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Addyi™: Why “Female Viagra™” Isn’t Quite the Same Thing

Monday, April 11, 2016 Leave a Comment

by Kara Alexandrovic, M.D.

In August 2015, the FDA approved flibanserin, better known as Addyi™ (pronounced "add-ee"). The first drug of its kind in the United States, Addyi™ is a promising step in the treatment of female sexual dysfunction. While often compared to Viagra™, which has been called "the little blue pill that changed the world," the two drugs have their fair share of differences. Here’s what I tell my patients when they ask me about Addyi™.

The Basics

Viagra™, FDA-approved in 1988, is for the treatment of male erectile dysfunction, otherwise known as difficulty achieving and maintaining an erection. Instead of taking Viagra™ as a daily medication, a man takes the pill if he wants to have sex. In contrast, Addyi™ is a medication that must be taken daily to be effective.

This is a drawback for some patients, who would rather not take a daily prescription medication. The differences in dosing requirements are due to the fact that there is no true female equivalent to erectile dysfunction. Instead, Addyi™ is approved for "hypoactive sexual desire”, or low libido.

Addyi™ and the Body

The two drugs also work in very different ways. In the most basic terms, Viagra™ works by increasing blood flow to the penis. Addyi™, on the other hand, acts on the central nervous system. Exactly how Addyi™ effectively works in the female body is still unknown, but we do know that it takes effect on neurotransmitters in the brain involved in sexual desire, like serotonin and dopamine. Therefore, most of its side effects are related to its actions in the brain; these may include dizziness, sleepiness, and nausea.

If you are ready to raise your glasses and toast to Addyi™, set those drinks down, ladies. Due to increased risk of severely low blood pressure and fainting, you cannot drink alcohol while taking Addyi™.

Exploring Your Options

Due to Addyi™’s complicated nature, physicians and pharmacists must receive special training to prescribe or dispense this medication. If you think Addyi™ may be the right medication for you, make sure to first confirm that your doctor is certified to prescribe it.

So there you have it; we finally have a prescription drug approved to treat female sexual dysfunction, 17 years after Viagra™ hit pharmacy shelves.  As with any medications, be sure to consult with your doctor to determine if Addyi™ is right for you.

If you would like to speak with myself or any of the other physicians at Metropolitan OB/GYN about Addyi™, please call 303-320-8499 or make an appointment today.

** This blog post was written to serve as an informational guide to Addyi™ and should not be taken as concrete medical advice, nor do the views above reflect the views of Metropolitan OB/GYN or the HealthONE organization. As with any medical questions or concerns, it is imperative to make an appointment with your physician for proper diagnosis and treatment.


Kara Alexandrovic, M.D. graduated from Miami University in 2004 and currently practices at Metropolitan OB/GYN. Having studied education, she decided her true passion lay in the practice of medicine and women's health. She believes in providing compassionate and individualized care for all in an open-minded environment. With a background in teaching, she is committed to patient education, so all women can feel informed and empowered.


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