Hope For Women With Low Sex Drive

Nancy Crotti

December 20, 2016

2 Min Read
Hope For Women With Low Sex Drive

Brain stimulation may decrease sexual dysfunction, according to recent research study.

Nancy Crotti

Women with decreased sex drive may have another alternative to the failed "female Viagra" pill that FDA approved last year.

Researchers in Los Angeles and Pittsburgh have found that certain types of direct brain stimulation can help boost libido in females and males, according to a report in New York magazine.

The researchers from UCLA and the University of Pittsburgh used transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), a focused current believed to have a permanent effect on the sex drive, and direct current stimulation (DCS), which is weaker, more diffuse and has an effect for about 30 minutes, the magazine reported.

Originally approved to treat depression, TMS is noninvasive, and uses magnetic fields to stimulate nerve cells in the brain, according to Mayo Clinic. It directly affects patients' ability to process positive stimulation, thus increasing response in the same areas of the that brain that are hypoactive in people who have low libido. TMS is also used to decrease cravings for tobacco, cocaine, alcohol, and food, which suggests that it may normalize reward sensitivity, according to the study published last month in PLOS|One.

The researchers tested 20 people using TMS and vibrators on their genitals, recording their reactions via EEG. The brain stimulation improved participants' reward response to the sexual stimuli. The researchers plan to further test the method in a clinical trial in which participants will undergo several rounds of TMS to gauge its long-term effectiveness, the magazine reported.

"Since TBS altered the anticipation of a sexual reward, TBS may offer a novel treatment for sexual desire problems," the researchers wrote, referring to TMS by the acronym TBS, which stands for theta burst stimulation.

If proven to have a long-lasting effect on women's sex drive, the method could help to make up for the disappointment in the drug flibanserin, marketed as Addyi and developed by tiny Sprout Pharmaceuticals (Raleigh, NC). Just two days after FDA approved Addyi last year--in the company's third attempt to get it into patients' hands--Sprout was purchased for $1 billion by Valeant Pharmaceuticals, according to a report in the New York Times.

The drug had the potential for serious side effects, including low blood pressure and loss of consciousness, as well as dizziness, drowsiness, nausea, and fatigue. It was also found to have little effect on female sex drive, according to an analysis published in JAMA.

Nancy Crotti is a contributor to Qmed

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About the Author(s)

Nancy Crotti

Nancy Crotti is a frequent contributor to MD+DI. Reach her at [email protected].

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