Professional and public interest in female sexual dysfunction has recently been sparked by developments in several areas including the investigation of new drug treatments. Approximately 43 percent of American women suffer from sexual dysfunction–perhaps an actual number as high as 50 million American women. The highest proportion occurs in young women between the ages of 18 and 29. (Study by Edward O. Laumann, PhD; Anthony Paik, MA; Raymond C. Rosen, PhD published in JAMA 2/9/99.) The lack of desire appears to be the number one, most significant complaint, followed by arousal and lubrication dysfunctions.

Twenty-one percent of those surveyed experienced physical pain during sex, while 27 percent reported that intercourse was not enjoyable. Sixteen percent admitted to sexual anxiety. The prevalence of female sexual dysfunction continues to be documented and the topic has generated discussions in both the medical and lay communities (60 Minutes, Larry King, Newsweek, Oprah).

Male sexual dysfunction has received the lion’s share of interest, but women’s complaints have been virtually ignored. Thankfully, that trend seems to be changing. With the advent of Viagra, the JAMA report and women’s demands, drug companies are investigating drug treatments for women with sexual dysfunction. We know that there will not be a magic pill to cure sexual dysfunction, but we do have hope for the future. While clinical investigations take time, we anticipate the study of female sexual dysfunction will advance so all women can benefit from treatment.

The latest drugs that show promise in treating female sexual dysfunction problems are listed in our comprehensive table by

  • name
  • drug manufacturer
  • key ingredient
  • current or potential use
  • clinical trial status

Some treatments are available now by prescription; others are still in clinical trial phases. If you suffer from female sexual dysfunction, see your doctor. You may want to bring a copy of this chart to show your doctor that there are courses of treatment available. The drugs listed as “available by prescription only” must be obtained through your doctor. We will continue to update this chart as new treatments become available.

Drug/Product Manufacturer Key Ingredient Use/Potential Use Status
Androsorb (cream) Novavax Testosterone Hormone-booster for hypogonadal men, but may heighten libido in postmenopausal women Phase II clinical trials
Alista Vivus Prostaglandin E1 New product. Increased blood flow to genitalia Phase II clinical trials
EROS-CTD(clitoral therapy device) Urometrics Clitoral therapy device FDA approved. Increases sensation and blood flow to clitoris via gentle suction Available with doctor’s prescription
Estrace cream Warner Chilcott Estrogen Hormone Replacement therapy (HRT) May help vaginal dryness and discomfort; not for use in women with history of blood clots or breast or endometrial cancer. Available with doctor’s prescription
Estratest (pill) Solvay Pharmaceuticals Estrogen-testosterone combination Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to treat hot flashes. Heightens libido in some women; possible side effects include acne and hair growth Available with doctor’s prescription
Evista Eli Lilly Selective estrogen receptor modulator (SERM) Osteoporosis HRT, thickens vaginal walls Available with doctor’s prescription
Femprox (cream) NexMed, Inc. Blood vessel dilator Improves blood flow to genitals; enhances arousal. Phase II clinical trials
Intrinsa (patch) Proctor & GambleWatson Laboratories Testosterone In six-month study women reported increased sexual activity and pleasure Phase II clinical trials
Livial (pill) Organon Selective estrogen receptor modulator (SERM) Osteoporosis, libido and arousal treatment and prevention of osteoporosis and reduction in the incidence of breast cancer Phase III clinical trials
NM1-870 (pill) NitroMed African tree bark fortified with nitric oxide Increases vaginal blood flow in postmenopausal women; may enhance arousal Phase II clinical trials
Premarin (pill, cream or injection)Prempro (pill)Premphase(pill) Wyeth Estrogen Osteoporosis, menopause symptoms.Helps vaginal dryness and discomfort associated with menopause; not for use in women with history of blood clots or breast or endometrial cancer. Prempro and Premphase not for women with hysterectomy Available with doctor’s prescription
Steryl-Norleucine VIP (cream) Senetek PLC Synthetic version of brain chemical Helps vaginal dryness and discomfort associated with menopause; not for use in women with history of blood clots or breast or endometrial cancer In clinical trials
Testosterone creams Off-label prescriptions from compounding pharmacies Testosterone Male hormone replacement therapy Not FDA approved for use in women; side effects include weight gain, hair growth, oily skin or enlarged clitoris
Tostrelle (gel) Cellegy Testosterone Controlled delivery system for testosterone to minimize side effects Advanced Phase II/III clinical trials
Vasofem (tablet) Zonagen Blood vessel dilator Increases blood flow to clitoris Phase II clinical trials
Viagra Pfizer Blood vessel dilator Male erectile dysfunction Increases blood flow to genitals Off-label prescription available.

Some information in researching this was obtained from “RX: Desire”
by Stephen Rae, Modern Maturity Magazine March/April 2001.

Additional resources on female sexuality are available from