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Whether you’ve realized it or not, the movement towards advancing women’s sexual health is having a huge moment right now. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has officially given its approval for flibanserin or Addyi, a substance created to increase sexual desire. Addyi will be available for consumers on Oct. 17.

It took three tries to get Addyi FDA approval. This time, new research that has ensured the safety of the drug and featured testimonies of women living with sexual dysfunction disorder facilitate flibanserin’s passage with the advisory board. If your libido needs a boost and you think need the drug or are just curious about what it is and how it made it to the FDA for review, here’s all that you need to know:

HOW DOES IT WORK?

To understand how flibanserin works, you’ll have to understand that calling it by its nickname, “female viagra”, is bit of a misnomer. Viagra changes the male body physically to improve sexual performance. However, flibanserin has more of an effect on chemicals and hormones in the brain to change a woman’s mood and to increase her desire for sex. The substance directly addresses the issues brought on by the most common form of female sexual dysfunction, Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder. One-fifth of women are affected by HSDD. Experts say that women with the disorder don’t sexually fantasize or want sex (oh the horror!). They explain that the disorder is partially brought on by hormonal issues as well as abnormal amounts of dopamine and serotonin in the front the brain. HSDD is diagnosed with female sexual interest/arousal disorder (FSIAD); it is an ongoing issue for individuals affected by it but isn’t necessarily connected to non-sexual mental disorders, relationship issues, substances, medical issues or other external stressors.

HOW WELL DOES IT WORK?

That depends. Women using the drug in its initial testing reported an average of two or more sexual encounters a month. It’s not a drastic rate but it is just an average and what you consider to be moderate or excessive sexual activity is all up to you.

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WHY HAS IT TAKEN SO LONG TO DEVELOP THE DRUG AND GET APPROVAL FROM THE ADVISORY BOARD?

That’s because low female desire is a complex issue. Some doubt that a drug can impact low desire, and the issue is complicated by other facets like boredom, relationship problems or discomfort during sex—particularly for women who have experienced menopause. In essence, low female desire isn’t always a medical issue, but is sometimes a social one. Flibanserin isn’t for everyone. Still, it’s perfect for someone who used to have a high sex drive but drastically lost it without explanation.

Viagra first became available to the public 17 years ago. Scientists previously tried male viagra on women’s bodies but it didn’t have an effect and companies have since been examining hormones and brain chemicals that impact women’s arousal to find a cure. So many people are gunning for flibanserin to get FDA approval because it is highly overdue. The FDA has yet to provide a female alternative to men’s substance for erectile dysfunction. In fact, there’s were previously 20 FDA approved substances for men’s sexual dysfunction and zero for women. The FDA claims that this is because men’s medications deal with physical effects of erectile issues while women’s medications dealing with brain chemistry are more difficult to solve. In the past, flibanserin was rejected because of its seemingly minimal impact on the female body and for its potential, undesirable side effects. Critics play down the merits of flibanserin by saying it’s a substance created to reverse a natural part of aging in fashion with a contemporary, hypersexual world.

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HOW WAS FLIBANSERIN DISCOVERED?

Flibanserin was first intended for use as an antidepressant. Yet the first manufacturer of the drug, a German company named Boehringer Ingelheim, realized that women began having more sexual thoughts while studying the substance. From that, they found that flibanserin works to release dopamines thereby increasing desire. Simultaneously, the substance lowers serotonin levels, serotonin being a neurotransmitter that brings on feelings of self-consciousness.

HOW DO I KNOW IF I NEED THE DRUG?

That’s a tricky question. While Viagra measures the strength and duration of an erection for men, measuring women’s desire is much more subjective. There’s no specific test that can be used to gauge it. Occasionally not wanting sex isn’t cause for alarm. Some women may struggle with spontaneously feeling sexually aroused but will still enjoy sex when it’s initiated by a partner. If that’s the case for you, then you don’t need the drug.

However, if you possibly suffer from HSDD and can’t be aroused even when you begin engaging in sex with your partner, then you should be talking about this as an option with your gynecologist—especially if and when flibanserin gets FDA approval. Even if your sexual health issues don’t fully fit the criteria for HSDD but you’re displeased with your libido, you should still speak to your doctor about alternative treatments.

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WHAT ARE THE SIDE EFFECTS?

Be prepared for possible dizziness, nausea, sleepiness, fainting spells or low blood pleasure. It won’t impact your ability to drive in the mornings. Flibanserin doesn’t impact other hormonal medications you might be using like birth control either but it shouldn’t be taken with alcohol.

Still not sure if flibanserin is right for you? Jimmy Fallon broke down some of the additional pros and cons so that you don’t have to. See the video below!

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