FDA-approved medications that may boost a woman’s libido (sex drive) include Addyi (flibanserin) and Vylessi (bremelanotide).
Depending on the cause, low sex drive can be managed by, lifestyle changes, communicating with the partner, mood-enhancing sexual techniques, hormonal therapy, counseling, and some promising medications.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved medications that may be used to boost libido in premenopausal women includes:
- Addyi (flibanserin): A prescription medication originally developed as an antidepressant is used to enhance sex drive in females when taken orally daily at bedtime.
- Vyleesi (bremelanotide): A subcutaneous (under the skin) injection to be injected in the abdomen or thigh at least 45 minutes before anticipated sexual activity.
Hormonal therapy may include:
- Estrogen: It is available in several forms, including pills, patches, sprays, gels, vaginal creams, and a slow-releasing suppository or ring.
- Testosterone: Testosterone therapy in women is not approved by the FDA; it is prescribed off-label to help lift a lagging libido.
- Intrarosa (prasterone): A vaginal insert that releases the hormone dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) directly to the vagina to help ease painful sex in cases of moderate to severe vaginal dryness.
- Osphena (ospemifene): An oral pill to be taken one time a day to help relieve painful sex symptoms in women with moderate to severe genitourinary syndrome of menopause.
Is there an equivalent of Viagra for women?
Female Viagra (sildenafil, the active ingredient in Viagra) is a medicine that can enhance sexual performance, increase libido, treat sexual problems, and make sexual activity more pleasurable, satisfactory, and enjoyable.
Viagra is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for sexual dysfunction in men, whereas it is not approved for sexual dysfunction in women. However, some women are using it off-label, which could lead to several side effects; some of which could be very unpleasant.
Studies have reported mixed results; some report male Viagra works for women, whereas others deny any confirmatory results.
Different products (pills and creams) available online for female arousal and libido enhancement include:
- Provestra: A dietary supplement appropriate for both menopausal and postmenopausal women.
- Vigorelle: A pump vial of cream applied to the genitals that act as a lubricant and may boost libido.
- HerSolution gel: An instant arousal gel for women suffering from vaginal dryness that boost libido and enhances vaginal sensation.
- HerSolution pills: Helps restore natural vigor and desire.
- Scream cream: A prescription cream, when applied to the clitoris, works by dilating blood vessels and increasing oxygen circulation.
- Lady era: A pill that contains sildenafil to improve sex drive, orgasm, and vaginal lubrication.
What are natural alternatives to increase sex drive in women?
Some natural herbs and supplements that claim to be natural alternatives to medications and work as aphrodisiacs to heighten a mood or boost female sexual performance may include:
- Asparagus contains phytoestrogens that help balance essential hormones and with premenstrual syndrome
- Ginkgo increases blood flow, influences nitric oxide systems, and has a relaxing effect on smooth muscle tissues.
- Korean red ginseng helps uplift sexual desire by relaxing the clitoris, especially in menopausal women.
- Maca roots grown in the Andes Mountains in South America are believed to increase sexual desire.
- Red clover contains estrogen-like substances called phytoestrogens that may improve libido, sleep, and mood.
- Traditional medicines
- Goat weed is believed to have aphrodisiac effects that can increase the estrogen level that helps alleviate menopausal symptoms, such as vaginal dryness, which can make sexual intercourse less painful.
- Damania (Turnera diffusa) boosts sexual arousal in women and helps by delivering more oxygen to the genital area, thus stimulating the libido.
- Ashwagandha contains two acyl steryl glucosides called sitoindoside VII and sitoindoside VIII, which work by boosting libido and alleviating stress responsible for disrupting sexual function.
- Tribulus terrestris is a popular plant used in Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine that is reported to enhance sexual experiences.
- Red wine
- A well-known aphrodisiac that helps by increasing the blood flow, which in turn increases the libido.
Other natural alternatives to medications
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What are the causes of low libido in women?
Low libido or reduced sexual drive is a common problem in women, affecting one out of every three women in the United States.
A woman is said to have a low sexual drive if they present with symptoms, such as having no interest in sexual activity or the absence of sexual fantasies or thoughts.
Low libido or reduced ability to have satisfying sexual intercourse can occur due to many life-changing events, such as pregnancy, menopause, illnesses, and some medications used for mood disorders.
Other reasons that may alter sex drive in females include:
- Hormonal imbalance due to:
- Stress (financial-or work-related)
- History of anxiety or depression
- History of genital tract surgery
- Problems in relationships due to miscommunication, lack of bonding, unresolved conflicts, and trust issues
- Painful sexual intercourse
- Psychological causes, such as consciousness about body image, reduced self-esteem, history of sexual abuse, and previous bad sexual experiences
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Chronic medical conditions, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, arthritis, coronary artery disease, and neurological diseases
- Hypoactive sexual desire disorder
- Sexual interest or arousal disorder
- Certain medications, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI)
- Thyroid imbalances
How is low sex drive diagnosed in women?
To diagnose hypoactive sexual desire disorder, the doctor may ask questions about medical and sexual history and perform certain additional tests, such as:
- Pelvic examination: To check signs of physical changes that may be contributing to low sexual desire, such as thinning of the genital tissues and vaginal dryness.
- Blood tests: To check hormone levels and any additional health conditions, including thyroid problems, diabetes, high cholesterol, and liver disorders.
After a confirmed diagnosis, the doctor may refer the woman to a specialist, a specialized counselor, or a sex therapist, who can better evaluate emotional and relationship factors that are causing low sex drive.
What are the possible side effects of libido-enhancing medications?
Some of the commonly found side effects of libido-enhancing medications in women include:
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Medically Reviewed on 4/13/2022
Harvard Health Publishing. A new drug for low sexual desire in women: Bremelanotide. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/a-new-drug-for-low-sexual-desire-in-women-bremelanotide-2019090517657
Uscher J. Is There a Pill for Women’s Sex Drive? WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/women/features/is-there-a-pill-for-womens-libido
Ellis RR. A Guide to Female Viagra. WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/women/features/guide-to-female-viagra