Sex Drug Viagra Turns 10; Women Still Waiting

The quest for "pink Viagra" presses onward; can testosterone gel revive a woman's libido?

FE_PR_080327health_viagra.jpg

It's Viagra's 10th birthday.

By + More

Nonetheless, treating patients will remain a difficult process until a product for women is approved, says Irwin Goldstein, director of sexual medicine at San Diego's Alvarado Hospital. Patients trek to his clinic from all corners of the country to seek a solution for their sexual woes. When medically appropriate, Goldstein and other specialists prescribe testosterone products approved for men off-label in significant numbers of women like Bette (who asked that her last name not be used), whose levels of the hormone are deemed low by blood tests. Doses, of course, are scaled way back because men have much higher levels of the hormone to begin with (too much testosterone can cause acne, excess hair growth, and voice lowering in women). "There are people who would like to go to their nearby doctor to get this care," says Goldstein. "Having a drug that's FDA approved would [make that possible]."

Some don't agree. A group of self-appointed feminists are doing everything they can to ensure that female libido drugs don't reach pharmacy shelves. "This is not what women want, and this is not what's in their best interest," says Leonore Tiefer, clinical associate professor of psychiatry at the New York University School of Medicine, who's at the helm of this countermovement. Her view: It's normal for some healthy women to experience a decline in sexual interest, and it doesn't warrant medical treatment.

So much controversy, and pink Viagra hasn't even entered the world yet.