I hate myself just a little for that subject line.
I took a little persuading that Project Prevention weren’t worth supporting. It took a bit longer with the case of Flibanserin, a new drug seeking FDA approval in the States for the treatment of Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder, aka HSDD, aka unhorny womyn.
Just like preventing more children from being born to substance-abusing parents who are unprepared to provide suitable childcare, medical treatment for decreased libido may initially seem like a noble goal. And, indeed, the basic long-term aim may be entirely benevolent. But, in both cases, the specific approach throws away any credibility that these campaigns might have had.
Viagra is hugely popular, obviously, and Flibanserin is being described by some (though I think not the manufacturers themselves) as a female equivalent to the men’s bonerific wonder-drug. But the opinion among clever people is that it’s not a wholly appropriate comparison, and that approval of this drug for treatment of HSDD will not be of overall benefit to women’s sexual health.
The problem comes from the emphasis that this drug and its expansive marketing campaign place on the idea that not wanting to have much sex is a medical problem, that should first and foremost be treated with drugs. There are actually quite a lot of reasons why you might not want to have sex with any particular someone, at any particular time, and taking medication for it really shouldn’t be the first place to go to try and rectify this if it becomes a problem.
You might, for instance, not be feeling especially attractive, or comfortable in your body. You might not be entirely comfortable with your partner or your surroundings. You might have a pretty hectic life, and be too exhausted in the few spare moments you get. You might just not seem to enjoy it that much because you’re doing it wrong.
In short, you might be able to resolve your problems to everyone’s satisfaction through simple and mundane means, such as making adjustments to your daily schedule or talking more openly with your partner, possibly with the aid of professional counselling, without resorting to pharmacological help before you’ve explored other avenues and determined what’s really appropriate.
Not least of these objections is the fact that it doesn’t even really have a strong body of scientific data supporting the claims that it can provide any substantial benefit to significant numbers of women. Not long ago I’d probably have left it at that for my blog analysis of something like this, and not really gone near the sexual health implications themselves. I’m definitely broadening my interests from the atheistic fury that kicked it all off. I’m still attending skeptical conferences, but I’m also noticing things like the gender disparity of the list of speakers, which probably wouldn’t have occurred to me this time last year.