Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Does Ur c1it rock hARd cassandra?

It only makes sense. Now that medication is helping men “Get hard in 15 min”* with “an afterburner for your schlong”* to the tune of millions of dollars, attention is turning to female sexual dysfunction (FSD...not to be confused with FDS). There is a great article here summarizing the many interests at play.

The drug companies are eager to make a killing similar to what they’ve done with Viagra, Cialis, and Levitra.

Some feminists say it’s about acknowledging the sexuality of post-menopausal, post-ovarian removal, or other women who are looking to “get their groove back.”

What troubles me, however, is that, “Most candidate drugs, however, focus on what clinicians say is by far the most common disorder: decreased interest in sex, also known as hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD).” This does not, necessarily, seem like a medical condition in need of treatment.

Biologically, sex exists to perpetuate the species. Usually the interest in sex coincides with the ability to reproduce. Witness your pubescent boy. Five years earlier, when his penis is merely urine transport tubing, kissing revolts him. Once the gonads are functioning, however, behold the change. Not the most elegant example, but probably the most familiar.

Likewise, post-menopausal women, or women whose ovaries have been surgically removed, are not capable of reproducing. There is no biological “purpose” for sex at this point. It makes sense that the desire to engage in it would wane.

I would argue the same is true for women with babies. It is not an optimal use of the body’s resources to conceive a new child at the time it’s still feeding and caring for another one. Any wonder new mothers laugh when the OB asks at their six week post-partum checkup what kind of contraception they’re using.

Tiefer worries that women will feel compelled to start taking drugs, even if they're comfortable with their decreasing sex drives, once they become available. "I'm pro-sex," she says. "I'm pro-porn, I'm pro-vibrators. ... But sex is a hobby. It's fine not to do it if you're not interested." (And certainly, an abusive husband like Laura's isn't a reason to put a woman on drugs, she adds.) Tiefer has founded a group, FSD Alert, that takes a feminist view of female sexual problems and puts more emphasis on sociocultural, political, and psychological factors.

There are other foes of FSD as a medical problem. In a series of articles over the past few years in the British Medical Journal, Ray Moynihan, a freelance journalist based in Sydney, Australia, called it the "corporate-sponsored creation of a new disease." He implicates the media for what he says are titillating but sloppy stories.

Just this week a study of twins concluded that at least 34% of what determines whether a woman has an orgasm during sex is genetics. Researchers were eager to point out that this genetic underpinning could “help produce drugs to treat female sexual dysfunction.”

For women (women, not their sexual partners) who experience and are disappointed by changes in their desire or ability to have an orgasm, medication may be the way to go. Hopefully women who do not mind their existing or changing levels of sexual desire and pleasure will not be subjected to media and relationship pressure to medicate themselves into a second adolescence.

*taken from this morning’s spam subject lines


Anonymous Nuthatch said...

If American culture helped people -- especially women -- feel good about themselves, comfortable about their bodies, and cultivated a reasonable, balanced attitude about sex, sexual dysfunction medications would be a small market. I don't deny there are medical reasons for lack of desire, and that people should certainly have a right to correct it. But I also believe if there were less anxiety about sex, our sexual attractiveness, and if we are having enough sex or the right sex, we'd have much healthier sex lives.

5:52 AM  

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