Flibanserin: the 'female Viagra'

Siski Green / 23 February 2016

All you need to know about Flibanserin, which has been called the ‘female viagra’.



When Viagra first became available men’s experiences with the medication were somewhat unpredictable – erections that refused to go away, heart problems and so on – and only with time and use have some of the issues become more known. So to avoid your own version of ‘permanent erection’ with the newer so-called ‘female Viagra’, be fore-warned with our guide to the medication.

Find out what you need to know about sex over 60.

Will it make me want sex again?

This is the most important question because, depending on your particular reason for lack of desire, it may or not work. 

While around a third to a half of women report lack of sexual desire during their lifetimes, the reasons for it range from lack of desire for their partner, fatigue or tiredness, other medications, unhealthy diet and psychiatric disorders. 

Obviously a pill isn’t going to suddenly make you find your partner sexy when you don’t see him that way anymore, so that’s something to consider when thinking about going to your GP for the drug. 

What’s more, research shows that flibanserin works for only around one in ten women. This makes it wildly different to viagra, which works for almost all men as it simply pumps blood to the penis. 

Find out what could be causing your low sex drive.

How does flibanserin work?

Flibanserin works in a more psychological way than Viagra in that it affects your neurotransmitters, rather like an anti-depressant. It enhances the release of dopamine, and inhibits the release of serotonin. 

In the studies, women who were already having some sex (2.7 sexually satisfying sex events) had more sex each month. A placebo also helped women have more sex than before (they went up to 3.7 events), although not as much as with flibanserin (4.5 sex events per month).

What’s more, the study participants in the post-menopausal group were women who had not had hysterectomies, UTIs, vaginal atrophy or were taking anti-depressants, prescription sleep-aids or anti-anxiety meds. So at this point no one knows how flibanserin might affect women in these situations.

What are the potential side effects?

Fainting, nausea and dizziness are the most common side effects, but also dry mouth, insomnia and drowsiness. The main issue to consider is that there hasn’t been time for long-term studies yet so effects on you psychologically, for example, as a result of adjusting the body’s serotonin and dopamine levels, can’t be known.

What else do I need to know about the drug?

You can’t drink alcohol while taking it. That, for many, would be a real drawback. It’s not just that you can’t drink alcohol on the night you might be planning to have sex either, because with this medication it needs to be taken daily. So no glass of wine with dinner, no toasting an anniversary with a glass of Champers, no beer at the pub garden. And don’t think the ‘no alcohol’ rule can be ignored. Mix this drug with alcohol and you may faint as it can cause blood pressure to drop dramatically.

Can I get it from my GP?

The medication is intended for women with hypoactive sexual desire disorder. That’s a far more serious condition than simply not being in the mood for it every now and again. It’s a lack of desire so profound that it causes distress or difficulties within your relationship – that said, your lack of desire cannot be caused by problems with your relationship nor because of other meds, an illness, or a psychiatric condition. So while there will be some women for whom the medication would still be recommend, many will find they are unable to get it from a GP.

Read our tips for increasing your libido.

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.