Drug companies make $2.5 billion a year selling Viagra, Cialis and Levitra to help men enjoy sex. Since more women suffer from sexual dysfunction than men, developing a drug that could double those sales would seem to be a no-brainer.
Yet the pharmaceutical industry has failed women miserably there isn’t a single sexual dysfunction drug on the market that can help them. Pfizer Inc. last year abandoned an eight-year Viagra study involving 3,000 women, conceding that its famous blue pill only works for men.
“I hate to say it, but women are much more complex than men,” said Beverly Whipple, the sex researcher who co-wrote “The G-Spot.”
Viagra and its two competitors are rather blunt instruments they work simply, by increasing blood flow down below. Women who take the drugs tend to experience the same physical effect, but this alone rarely satisfies them.
“You are not going to make a product by looking at what works in men and apply it to women,” said Amy Allina, program director at the National Women’s Health Network in Washington D.C. “That does reflect, in part, a lack of knowledge of what is underlying women’s sexual problems.”
The latest research being done by academics, rather than commercial drug companies suggests a neurological solution is needed. Because when it comes to achieving orgasms, women are more affected by mood, self-esteem and other issues of the psyche than men.
While Pfizer and other pharmaceutical titans have abandoned the pursuit of a Viagra for females as too complicated, a growing number of university researchers are reporting progress with the help of brain scanners and other technology.
Yes, they’re watching women’s brains while they have orgasms. And they’re coming to some interesting conclusions.
For example, by studying paralyzed women who can still experience orgasm, they discovered that for women, the vagus nerve appears to be quite important, and therefore may be a promising target for drugs. This nerve which is outside the spinal cord carries information to areas of the brain that control mood.