Flibanserin Review: Does "Women's Viagra" Work?

Flibanserin Review: Does "Women's Viagra" Work?


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Disclaimer: None of the information in this article constitutes medical advice, and is just the opinion of the writer(s). We recommend that patients follow their doctor’s guidance in regard to prescription medication.

Flibanserin is a prescription drug used to improve libido in women. It’s FDA-approved treat hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD) in women, which is sometimes caused by hormonal changes during menopause. 

But is the drug actually proven to increase sex drive in women? Does it have any concerning side effects? Is the branded version Addyi better than generic flibanserin? And how do real users rate and describe the effects of flibanserin?

In this article we’ll answer all of these questions and more, as we review clinical studies on flibanserin to determine how effective it is for improving sex drive in women.

We'll discuss potential side effects, explain if the brand-name version is more effective, and feature unsponsored patient reviews and ratings.

Does Flibanserin Increase Sex Drive?

Flibanserin has been studied in a multitude of clinical trials to determine its effects on libido in women.

A 2019 meta-study examined data from three clinical trials on flibanserin in pre-menopausal women with low sexual desire.

All three clinical trials documented an enhanced sex drive in patients taking flibanserin.

The number of “satisfying sexual events” increased from 1.2 to 2.1 over the 28 day trial period. This equates to an improvement of 75%.

A medical trial published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine analyzed flibanserin's efficacy for enhancing sexual desire in post-menopausal women. The average age of the trial participants was around 56 years old.

The results from this trial were less favorable than the results from the study on pre-menopausal women. Sexual function was slightly improved but there was no difference in the number of satisfying sexual events.

The most thorough medical review we could find on this medication analyzed data from over 5,000 flibanserin patients.

Flibanserin increased the average number of satisfying sexual events by 0.5 per month.

Flibanserin is proven to be effective at increasing female libido and the number of satisfying sexual events that sexually active women experience. That said, the clinical results aren’t particularly impressive in our opinion.

Does Flibanserin Cause Side Effects?

Flibanserin does cause side effects in some patients.

The drug's FDA label has a "black box" warning indicating that alcohol must be avoided while taking flibanserin because the combination of the two substances can cause severe side effects.

Black box warnings are the most severe level of warning issued by the FDA, and indicate side effects that may be life-threatening.

Flibanserin also has dangerous interactions to other prescription drugs listed on the warning label, and a doctor should be careful to check a patient's existing medication before prescribing flibanserin, to ensure that none of the contraindicated drugs are currently being taken.

The medical review with data from over 5,000 patients, cited in the preivous section of this article, documented more common side effects of the drug:

Those using flibanserin were four times more likely than those taking a placebo pill to experience dizziness, four times more likely to experience drowsiness, and 2.35 times more likely to suffer from nausea. The risk of fatigue also increased by 64% in the flibanserin group.

Given the black box warning, we recommend that patients considering flibanserin make sure that they notify their doctor of all other medications they're currently taking, and have an honest discussion with their doctor about whether they will be able to totally refrain from alcohol use while on the drug.

For patients unable to stop drinking alcohol, a doctor may be able to recommend an alternative medication that does not have a negative interaction with alcohol.

Surprising Flibanserin Facts

One of the most popular YouTube videos on flibanserin is published by a channel called "Women in the World," is only one minute long, and highlights some interesting (and potentially concerning) facts about the drug:

Is the Brand-Name Version Better? 

As we documented in our Addyi reviews article, flibanserin is the generic form of the drug and Addyi is the branded version. 

We typically recommend that patients speak with their doctor about the generic version of drugs, because medical research has proven that generic drugs are as effective as their brand-name equivalents.

A meta-study published in the PLOS Medicine journal analyzed data from 1 million patients and found that generic and branded drugs are equally effective and safe. This suggests that generic flibanserin should be as effective as Addyi.

Unfortunately, at the time of updating this article, generic flibanserin is not available in the US according to GoodRx.

This means that patients should ask their doctor about Addyi if they're interested in taking flibanserin.

Generic flibanserin may be available for sale within the next few years, so we'd recommend that patients on Addyi ask their doctor annually about whether a generic equivalent is available, because generic drugs can have significantly lower retail prices.

Patients Rate Flibanserin

Drugs.com is a website that allows prescription medication patients to rate and review the drugs they're taking.

We cannot verify the accuracy or authenticity of any reviews on this site.

Flibanserin has been reviewed over 60 times on Drugs.com, and has an average rating of 3.8 out of 10 at the time of updating this article.

A top positive review comes from a user named “Hafabnr” who gave the drug a 10/10 rating, and claims it improved their sex drive:

"I can't imagine life without [flibanserin]! I forgot what have a libido felt like until I started taking [flibanserin]. I love my husband and literally dreaded having sex. I only wish I found this sooner!"

A top negative review is written by a user named “Girl” who gave the drug a 1/10 rating, and claims it caused side effects and is too expensive:

"It causes my mind to race and makes me restless. I have epilepsy and lack of sleep causes my seizures. I paid $99 for this med, after the website said it was only $20 a month. They claimed even with my insurance, that is as low as they could go. I am very disappointed all the way around."

A video published by the popular media network Inside Edition interviewed a real flibanserin user who had a positive experience:

Our Clean Women's Libido Picks

Ristela by Bonafide is our top overall women's libido pick.

The four active ingredients in this supplement are clinically shown to improve sexual desire and satisfaction scores by over 100% after eight weeks.

Momentous Vitamin D3 is our top value women's libido pick.

Vitamin D was shown to improve sexual desire, orgasm and satisfaction in young women with low vitamin D status in a 2018 clinical trial

Momentous Zinc is our top libido pick for postmenopausal women.

A 2021 clinical trial concluded that zinc supplementation can improve sexual function in postmenopausal women.

We're not suggesting that dietary supplements are as effective as any FDA-approved medication.

How Does Flibanserin Work?

Libido is a complex and multifactorial aspect of human biology. It’s affected by both mental and physical factors, and the mechanism of action of flibanserin appears to be mostly mental.

The drug increases levels of dopamine and reduces levels of serotonin in the brain, according to one of the medical reviews linked in the first section of this article.

These two neurotransmitters affect both mood and hormonal signaling.

Medical studies have proven that serotonin can reduce sexual desire and arousal, so by artificially reducing its circulating level in the brain, flibanserin can increase sex drive.

Flibanserin also acts as an agonist to dopamine receptors, which means that it attaches to the receptors and enhances cellular signaling. High levels of circulating dopamine are associated with increased sexual desire and increased reward-seeking behavior.

Stay up-to-date on our research reviews

Conclusion

Flibanserin improves sexual desire and sexual function in women, but not to an impressive degree in our opinion.

The medication only appears to increase satisfying sexual events by 0.5 per month on average.

Flibanserin causes side effects in some patients like nausea and dizziness, and the drug can have severe interactions with alcohol. Patients on flibanserin are directed to avoid consuming any alcohol.

The average patient rating of flibanserin is under 4/10 on Drugs.com at the time of updating this article.

Because generic flibanserin is not currently available in the US, patients interested in this medication should speak with their doctor about its brand-name alternative called Addyi.