Hey Gals — 8 Better Alternatives To The Libido Drug Addyi
So, your libido has waned a bit, but does that mean you need to take the new libido drug Addyi? Do yourself a favor and try these eight alternatives that may be much better, healthier and less expensive.
IT’S A new pink pill that’s being heavily marketed by a pink-dressed gal who, with her husband, owns the company that makes it. She’s pressed hard for the FDA to approve it. On the third review they did, with reservations. It’s the first prescription drug designed to enhance women’s sexual drive to win regulatory approval.
The gal is Cindy Whitehead, CEO of Sprout Pharmaceuticals. The pink pill that Sprout makes is called Addyi, and it’s supposed to boost a women’s libido. The FDA has plenty of reasons for its reservations, given that one peculiar side effect is fainting.
The Addyi Story
According to the New York Times, the FDA rejected Addyi twice, in 2010 and 2013, citing marginal effectiveness (as well as the side effects). For instance, in one trial, women who took the drug had an average of 4.4 “satisfying sexual experiences” a month, compared with 3.7 for women getting a placebo and 2.7 before the study began. The drug did not increase desire more than a placebo when measured by a daily diary, but did do so modestly when measured by a monthly questionnaire.
Cindy Whiteman and her husband, Robert, were not involved with Addyi, or “fibanserin”, the name of the drug when the FDA first rejected it. At that time, they managed a company called Slate Pharmaceuticals that sold a testosterone product for men. In 2010, the FDA accused Slate of making exaggerated claims. The Whiteheads sold Slate and formed Sprout to acquire flibanserin.
After the second rejection in 2013, various women’s and health groups formed Even the Score. They argued that it was sexist for the FDA to deny women options while approving numerous drugs for men that also had side effects, which naturally, the FDA denied.
Interestingly, Sprout is paying part of the expenses for the FDA accusers, whose members include the National Council of Women’s Organizations, the Black Women’s Health Imperative and the Association of Reproductive Health Professionals.
If you’ve seen Cindy Whitehead on TV, you’ll probably agree that she’s articulate, charismatic and a great saleswoman. On the third attempt, she was able to get FDA approval, though barely, but was not able to dampen the outrage of many who follow such things.
Critics have sent letters to the FDA urging it to reject Addyi.
Dr. Tiefer of N.Y.U. sent a letter with about 100 signatures that said it was “absurd” to expect women taking Addyi would refrain from drinking alcohol. (1)
Yes, if you drink alcohol whilst taking Addyi, you may faint.
Another letter by the Pharmed Out project at Georgetown University Medical Center, which also had around 100 signatures, said that the “unprecedented and unwarranted manufacturer-funded public relations campaign” might have confused the advisory committee members. A third letter, from the Dutch Society of Sexology, said the drug was based on the mistaken notion that lack of spontaneous sexual desire, absent stimuli, was abnormal. (2)
By now, you may get the notion that Addyi is not universally beloved. And that sentiment does not even take price into account.
Priced Like Viagra, But Very Different
Cindy Whitehead has not set the price of Addyi, but suggested it would be roughly equivalent on a monthly basis to erectile dysfunction pills, such as Viagra. Those pills are generally taken when needed, while Addyi is supposed to be taken nightly, which makes a direct comparison difficult. But a common monthly Viagra allotment of ten Viagra tablets costs about $400. (3)
What a deal! For $400 a month, you get to maybe feel a bit more amorous about your mate if you don’t get sick from the side effects. Or pass out.
Does my tone seem dismissive?
I confess that I have an attitude about this… about thinking that popping some pharmaceutical drug is going to do something magical about how you think or feel about something, like sex.
I mean, think about it… what is libido?
The medical definition is:
“The psychic and emotional energy associated with instinctual biological drives”. (4)
So a pill is going to create both a “psychic” and “emotional” drive to want sex? We’re not talking about a physical capacity here, like what Viagra addresses, but a desire, an emotion.
Unlike the biomechanical action that Viagra et al stimulates in men to bring blood to their penises and enable them to be more able swordsmen, Addyi (pronounced ADD-ee) has to somehow create desire.
And it takes time, if it works at all.
“This is not a drug you take an hour before you have sex. You have to take it for weeks and months in order to see any benefit at all,” said Leonore Tiefer, a psychologist and sex therapist who organized a petition calling on the FDA to reject the drug. (5)
How Can Addyi Create Desire?
Say you’ve been married for 15 years, have 2.5 children, commute two hours back and forth to work five days a week, where you sit at a desk for eight hours a day. After work you have errands, some cleaning, dinner to prepare, bills to juggle.
On any given night, you hear a loud belch, and turn around to see your husband slumped in the couch watching a football game with a beer perched on his outsized belly, and you think,
“Gee, I thought I threw out that arm-pit stained, holey t-shirt.”
Now, girl, are you surprised that your libido has vacated the premises? Could a pill help you find it? Could a pill make you want him again, stinky, holey t-shirt and all?
Addyi is supposed to work by changing the balance of certain brain neurotransmitters, such as dopamine and serotonin in the premenopausal, low libido women to whom it’s being marketed. Such women may be ripe for the medical diagnosis of Hypoactive Sexual Disorder, suggests the fine people at Sprout.
If Hypoactive Sexual Disorder is your issue, simply pop the pink pill, and you’ll be chasing your significant other around the bed.
Oh, remember, that’s if you don’t drink alcohol. If you drink alcohol, you may pass out after popping Addyi. But if you maintain sobriety, you still could experience drowsiness or dizziness, not to mention extremely low blood pressure and liver issues.
Ladies, if you really do want to have more libido, there are better ways than getting it on with Addyi every night.
How To Get Your Libido Back
Or, as I wrote in the title: Hey Gals — 8 Better Alternatives To Libido Drug Addyi.
Before you plunk down $400 each month for some outside chance of getting horny whilst still being conscious enough to enjoy the experience, consider some alternatives.
You’re a superhero if you do all eight, but doing even one qualifies you as a run-of-the-mill hero. (Not to mention, a sexy kitten.)
#1. De-stress Your Life
To do that you could start by taking some adaptagens, which are herbs that can reduce systemic stress. Two excellent ones that I cycle in and out of are:
- Ashwaganda, and
You could also carve out 10 minutes each day to meditate or just sit and focus something that brings you calm and pleasure. New to meditation? Check out my article,Why Holosync Technology Will Quickly Give You These 10 Benefits of Meditation and More! (Listen).
Finally, good ole exercise not only does a body good, but can be a great mood-shifter. Move that body and let those feel-good chemicals, like endorphins, dopamine and serotonin, make you happy. (6, 7) (See #8 below.)
#2. Unwind Depression
The majority of us experience at least mild depression from time to time. It’s normal, but you need to make sure it doesn’t linger.
Some prescription medications, among them antidepressants and drugs to treat hypertension, have been shown to contribute to a low libido. Even antihistamines can dry out the vagina, making for painful intercourse.
If your depression is mild, it could be that you don’t need pharmaceutical drugs at all. In his book, Spontaneous Happiness, Dr. Andrew Weil says that for mild to moderate depression, pharmaceutical antidepressants are no more effective than placebos.
The science about this suggests that there are four effective steps you can take to reduce depression. Reducing or eliminating mild/moderate depression is all about anti-inflammatory foods, taking the right supplements, exercise and a shift in cognition (perception), which I examine in Dr. Weil’s Four Alternatives To Anti-depressant Drugs.
Then, per usual, there’s always exercise. Brain-derived neurotrophic factor, known as BDNF, is a neurotransmitter that’s released into the brain in response to exercise. This chemical has been shown to help reduce the symptoms of depression. Dr. Gary Small, writing for PsychologyToday.com, reports that this substance can also enhance brain health and memory. (8)
#3 Optimize Your Hormones
Hormones are tricky, so it would be a good idea to be guided by an endocrinologist, but you could also try some supplements that could improve your dopamine levels naturally – rather than using a drug. (Dopamine is often referred to as the “love chemical”.) Also, check to see if your thyroid and adrenal glands are functioning properly.
According to Dr. Ray Sahelian, certain natural supplements can increase dopamine levels and enhance sexual interest.
- Mucuna Pruiens, and
- Passion Rx, Dr. Sahelian’s own formulation, which he claims is a potent aphrodisiac.
Low-functioning thyroid, or “hypothyroidism” is a very under-diagnosed condition; meaning, many of us have the condition without being aware of it. One effect of hypothyroidism is fatigue, and that includes low sexual energy.
If you get cold a lot — particularly in the extremities of feet and hands — or if your morning body temperature is consistently below 98 degrees, you should have your thyroid checked by an endocrinologist who can help discern if your issue stems from the thyroid or the adrenals, as they share a number of similar symptoms.
In the meantime, check out Nutri-meds.com for supplements that can help with both hypothyroidism and adrenal burnout.
I’ve written quite about about thyroid and adrenal issues, and there may be some pearls for you to gather:
#4. Check Your Testosterone
Yes, testosterone is a hormone, but rather than include it in #3, I think it deserves its very own place in the Sun, because too often the fact that women need testosterone is unknown.
You might think that testosterone is the domain of men, but although they need just 10% of what men require, women need testosterone for proper hormone balance.
According to, Get Your Libido Back, written by Lauren Russell Griffin in Women’s Health Magazine:
“[Testosterone] initiates blood flow that causes your girly parts to become plump and sensitive. This leads to lubrication and, with any luck, one hell of an orgasm…” (9)
There’s one big thing that most premenopausal women do that decreases testosterone — contraception. The hormones in the “Pill” keep the ovaries from producing testosterone, something they can’t do if ovulation is suspended. Then the synthetic estrogen in the Pill causes the liver to produce a protein called sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG), which, in effect, glues itself to testosterone, making it unavailable to the body.
The conclusion: It could be that there’s insufficient “free” testosterone circulating in a woman’s body to get those “girly parts” cranking.
(Note: the Pills affect on testosterone doesn’t happen to every woman, particularly those who have been “on” the pill since puberty. Read this.)
#5 Ditch the Pill
Given what I wrote in #4 about how it drives down testosterone, you might consider taking Pill break.
“If you’ve determined that there’s nothing else that might be impacting your sex drive, certainly the first thing I would recommend is a hiatus from the Pill,” says Alan Altman, M.D., a sexual-dysfunction specialist and assistant clinical professor of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive biology at Harvard Medical School. (10)
Consider asking your doctor to prescribe a different hormonal contraceptive; perhaps a new brand, a lower-estrogen pill, or the Patch. Although most forms of birth control increase SHBG levels, 30% of women who switch somehow get their sex drive back, perhaps due to the placebo effect. (11)
#6 Get Restorative Sleep
A recent study says that getting enough sleep can improve a woman’s arousal by 14%. (I’d like to know how they measure such things.)
The study’s author, Dr. David Kalmbach, says:
“Some prior research has shown that sleep increases sex hormones, which can influence feelings of sexual desire.” (12)
Everyone knows that a good sleep rejuvenates us, so why wouldn’t it rejuvenate the libido as well?
If sleep has a habit of avoiding you, there are things you can do to seduce it, such as:
- Turn off screens, phones, and perturbing conversations, and begin relaxing one hour prior to bedtime.
- Make sure your bedroom has no LCD lights glowing from computers, clocks and other devices.
- Do whatever you need to do to keep it dark, whether you have window shades that keep out the light, or wear a sleep mask over your eyes.
- Take melatonin. If that proves insufficient, combine melatonin with 5 HTP, L-Theanine, Passion Flower and L-Tryptophan. You can get all of those in Sleep X from 88Herbs, a product I’ve used and like. (For more on melatonin, read Beyond Sleep: 10 Ways Melatonin Helps You Age Better.)
#7 Find Another Man
Alas, it may come down to this, which shouldn’t be surprising given that nearly 15% of American wives have had an affair (13), although they are prudes by comparison to the two most, shall we say, libido-expressive European countries, where 33% of French women and 44% of Italian women confessed to infidelity. (14)
Actually switching mates would not be my first suggestion. Anyone else will have plenty of baggage and issues too, which will put you right back in the catbird’s seat of needing to work it out.
Whether you “repair or replace”, the key is to do something; otherwise your life will be relegated to an unceasing drumbeat of lackluster despair, which is no way to live.
#8 Exercise Consistently
Like testosterone, exercise deserves its very own mention, rather than being tucked into #2, Depression.
My mother says that my solution to everything is exercise. Well, Ma, as you know, it sure has helped me navigate the trials and tribulations of my life, and for good reasons.
Consider these seven, brought to you by the Mayo Clinic:
- Exercise controls weight because, duh, it burns calories… those nasty critters that hide out in all that food you eat. So, take a walk, climb some stairs or do some burpees… and then with your newfound libido surging, go run after your mate.
- Exercise improves health conditions and diseases because it increases HDL, lowers LDL, reduces the chances for stroke, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, depression, some cancers and arthritis.
- Exercise improves mood because it creates those feel-good chemicals mentioned above.
- Exercise boosts energy because it delivers oxygen and nutrients to tissues (like heart and muscle), and helps your cardiovascular system work more efficiently.
- Exercise promotes better sleep (#6) because your body is taxed and seeks rest and recuperation.
- Exercise puts the spark back into your sex life because you feel better, look better and are energized.
- Exercise can be fun if you make it fun by being creative with it, and using the buddy system to keep it consistent, progressive and engaging.
The Bottom Line
Taking a pharmaceutical drug should always be your last resort. You may think it’s the best way to solve your health issue because it’s easy to swallow a pill, but it’s nearly always an expensive way to go.
Not only do drugs cost money but, over time, they can take a toll on your overall health given the many side effects that go hand-in-hand with drugs.
When it comes to boosting libido, you know now that there are at least eight ways you can improve your desire for sex other than taking the libido drug Addyi every night. Sure, some of the libido-enhancing alternatives to the drug aren’t as easy, but their benefits are deeper and broader… and surely you can find a way to exercise without fainting!
To your lustful life!
P.S. I first wrote about flibanserin, the former name of Addyi, in Do Women Really Need A Libido-boost From A Female Viagra? There’s a lot more information about the drug in that article, so if you or someone you know is contemplating taking fibanserin/Addyi, read the article first.