Sexual Health Q&A
What is flibanserin and how does it work?
Flibanserin is a drug developed to treat hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD) in women. Women with HSDD have a chronic lack of interest in sex that cannot be explained by another medical condition. HSDD is also accompanied by feelings of distress.
Sometimes, flibanserin is called the “female Viagra,” but that term isn’t quite accurate. Viagra is a drug used to treat erectile dysfunction in men and works by improving blood flow to the penis. In other words, it mainly works on the genitals. Flibanserin is different because it works on a woman’s brain.
The brain is often considered a woman’s more important sexual organ. Much of her sexual response cycle originates in her brain.
Flibanserin works on three important brain chemicals: dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin. These chemicals are neurotransmitters. They are responsible for sending signals between the brain and other parts of the body through the nervous system.
Dopamine and norepinephrine are involved with sexual excitement. However, serotonin contributes to sexual inhibition and may dampen sex drive. It is thought that if these chemicals are out of balance – if dopamine and norepinephrine levels are too low and/or serotonin levels are too high – a woman might feel less sexual desire.
Flibanserin works by raising levels of dopamine and norepinephrine while lowering levels of serotonin. In this way, chemicals that help promote sexual desire are increased and one that can suppress desire is decreased.
Flibanserin is a pill to be taken once a day at bedtime.
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