How Long Does "Female Viagra" Take To Work? It's Not Something You Take An Hour Before Sex To Get Turned On

There are 20-plus different treatment options for male sexual dysfunction, yet zero for women have been approved by the FDA — until today. So now that its gained the coveted approval of the Food and Drug Administration, people who are interested in taking the drug are wondering how long female Viagra takes to work, how long it lasts, and when will the drug, formerly known as Flibanserin and now called Addyi, will be available. If you’re one of those women who the drug was specifically made for, then you probably have a lot of questions as to whether taking the pill will be right for you.

According to the National Institute of Health, about 40 percent of women in America suffer from female sexual dysfunction. Flibanserin, which will be known as Addyi once it's released, in particular, was made as a treatment option for Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder (HSDD), which is a “woman’s chronic ongoing lack of interest in sex that causes her personal distress.” Basically, it's for women who had sexual desire, lost it, are distressed by that loss, and want it back.

First and foremost, it’s not technically “female Viagra.” As Sprout Pharmaceuticals CEO Cindy Whitehead tells Bustle, “The biggest misconception is that we’re 'female Viagra.' And I get why people say that by context because that was kind of the drug that changed the conversation around men’s sexual health and opened the doors for a lot of treatment options to come forward. But they don’t work the same.”

Viagra addresses a blood flow issue, or as Whitehead likes to say a “mechanical issue for sex” with erectile dysfunction. Flibanserin, on the other hand, works on three key chemicals in the brain that are responsible for sexual response. Because of that, it’s not a pill that you can just simply pop in an hour before sex and expect to get turned on.

According to Dr. Sheryl Kingsberg, a clinical psychologist and associate professor from Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Cleveland, Flibanserin is not a quick and easy fix. Kingsberg, who was involved in the clinical trials of the drug and acts as a consultant to Sprout tells Bustle, “[Flibanserin] takes some time to have any effect. Up to four weeks.”

Early concerns had people believing that the pill could act as a sort of “date-rape” drug for women. But that’s simply not the case. “It’s not something you can slip into someone’s drink. Flibanserin wouldn’t work that way because it takes time. It can’t work as a date-rape drug because it doesn’t have an immediate quality. It doesn’t knock you out. While it can be sedating to women, you take it at bedtime. So the sedation effect benefits you with sleep. You don’t take it in the morning,” Kingsberg says.

So, there you have it. Flibanserin is not female Viagra in the sense that it doesn’t address a “mechanical issue,” but desire and sexual response in the brain. It doesn’t work on-demand or even a few hours. It’s something you have to take regularly at bedtime, and it takes up to four weeks to have any effect. According to clinical trial data from Sprout Pharmaceuticals, women who took flibanserin saw a 53 percent increase in sexual desire in comparison to their baseline. Women also saw benefits as early as four weeks over a 24-week treatment period.

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Images: Sprout Pharmaceuticals; Giphy(3)