You'd be hard pressed (no pun intended) to find someone who hasn't heard of Viagra by now. With the continual loosening of restrictions on direct-to-consumer pharmaceutical advertising, most of us know more about medications to help men with erections than we do about the basic functions of our bodies.
This is a good news/bad news scenario. The good news is that some people are talking (hopefully to each other) about things like sexual satisfaction, sexual desires and fantasies, and sexual feelings and values more than they used to. The bad news is that everything we know about these drugs, we learn from the companies that are trying to sell them to us.
And yet, each time a new wonder drug emerges there is an avalanche of speculation, exaltation, and anticipation.
The newest wonder drug/aphrodisiac being touted by a pharmaceutical manufacturer, and now the media, is a drug called PT-141. This medication apparently works directly on the nervous system (unlike the Viagra type drugs that impact blood flow) and is novel in that it is delivered through a nasal spray. While it is still in clinical trials it is already being praised here, there, and everywhere.
As in previous cases, all we are hearing are the innumerable exciting possibilities for PT-141, and nothing about who is being included and excluded from studies, potential side effects, and possible long term complications.
The situation is not black and white. Medications designed to affect sexual functioning have important uses, and are obviously not all bad. It is simplistic and misguided to suggest that we need to find “natural” solutions to all our sexual issues.
But it is worth considering the ways that for profit companies are setting the agenda for our sexual issues, and what options are left open to us to explore our difficulties and resolve our dissatisfactions and complaints. A compelling and very worrying case study of these issues is still playing itself out with the label Female Sexual Dysfunction .
It’s not that there isn’t a place for pharmacological intervention in sexual dysfunction. Many people’s lives are clearly improved with the introduction of new medications. But I often worry about our eagerness to find a new drug to “fix” problems that, once the solution is in place, are revealed to be much more complicated than previously thought. I also worry when drugs start appearing to fix sexual concerns that I haven’t yet seen in legitimate scientific literature.