A few years ago, I shared that the FDA had approved flibanserin, the first available treatment for those experiencing HSDD (hypoactive sexual desire disorder), low sexual desire that can’t be attributed to external circumstances like medical conditions or relationship difficulties. I said then that it made me optimistic that additional treatments would be developed.
I’m happy to say that my optimism wasn’t unfounded. The FDA is reviewing another treatment for HSSD called bremalanotide, which is self-administered through a disposable auto-injector. While it’s not a “pink Viagra,” it is designed to be used right before a sexual encounter, rather than on a daily basis, like the tablet flibanserin. HSDD results from an imbalance in chemicals, and bremalanotide works by changing the balance between “inhibitory and excitatory neural pathways in the brain,” according to its maker, AMAG Pharmaceuticals.
It could be approved early in 2019, and that would be good news for the estimated six million pre-menopausal women who have HSDD—about one in ten (and for post-menopausal women, too, but the study didn’t include them; like Addyi, this new drug is likely to be explicitly approved for the population included in the study). Most of those women likely don’t realize that what they are experiencing has a name, and that it’s now treatable. Instead, they may believe they have to accept low libido as part of “middle age.”
It’s true that it’s normal for desire and sex drive to fluctuate. Each of us decides what’s right for us and our partners. But if what you thought was a passing dip in desire lasts for longer than six months or so, then talk to a healthcare professional. It could be HSDD—and soon there may be one more way of treating it!
Dr. Barb DePree, M.D., has been a gynecologist and women’s health provider for almost 30 years and a menopause care specialist for the past ten.