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See Inside March / April 2010

A Female Viagra?

Women with low libido get a boost from a new drug

Women who suffer from chronically low levels of sexual desire may soon be able to fix the problem with a pill. In a review of three recent clinical trials, scientists determined that after 24 weeks of treatment with the drug flibanserin, women reported significantly more sexual desire and an increase in satisfactory sexual encounters. The drug was initially developed as an antidepressant, and although it failed to alter mood in trials, researchers noticed it seemed to be helping women with low sex drives. How the drug works is not yet entirely clear, but it is known to alter the levels of serotonin in the brain. Although more trials are needed before flibanserin could become available commercially, it shows promise as the first drug demonstrated to treat low libido in women—the most common sexual problem in females—by targeting the brain.

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