Female Sexual Dysfunction: A Real, But Often-Overlooked Medical Condition
“It’s all in your head” no longer cuts it when it comes to treating sexual dysfunction. For years, men’s sexual disorders were attributed to preoccupation with work, lack of attraction to their partner, or other emotional issues. The advent of pharmacologic treatments for erectile dysfunction proved that men’s sexual problems were not solely emotional, but also physical in nature.
Nevertheless women’s sexual problems continue to be attributed to “mind over matter.” A study published in the July 14, 2008 edition of the prestigious medical journal, Archives of Internal Medicine, should dispel these misconceptions about female sexual dysfunction once and for all.
In an article titled “Prevalence of Low Sexual Desire and Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder in a Nationally Representative Sample of US Women,” authors Suzanne L. West, PhD, MPH; Aimee A. D’Aloisio, PhD; Robert P. Agans, PhD; William D. Kalsbeek, PhD; and John M. Thorp, MD (all from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill); and Natalie N. Borisov, PhD (Procter and Gamble), surveyed more than 2,200 women ranging in age from thirty to seventy on sexual behavior and level of satisfaction. The study was especially thorough and probing given such a sensitive subject.
Researchers found that the prevalence of low sexual desire ranged from 26.7% among pre-menopausal women, to 52% among post-menopausal women. Moreover, the incidence of hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD), a more serious form of female sexual dysfunction, was as high as 12.5% in surgically menopausal women. This group of women has had their ovaries removed due to a number of gynecologic problems. According to the study, surgically menopausal women were 2.3 times as likely to experience HSDD as premenopausal women. Naturally menopausal women were 1.2 times as likely to experience HSDD.
HSDD differs from low sexual desire insofar as the former causes distress among affected women, and can therefore lead to relationship problems and general anxiety.
“These results strongly suggest that something quite significant is occurring in women who experience menopause whether naturally or as a result of surgery,” notes Stephen M. Simes, president and CEO of Lincolnshire, IL-based BioSante Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (Nasdaq: BPAX). “This group appears to undergo hormonal changes which strongly affect sexual desire and, more importantly, may cause distress as well.”
BioSante is developing LibiGel®, a testosterone gel that has completed Phase II testing, for treating HSDD in surgically menopausal women, in which a 238% increase in the number of satisfying sexual events was reported. Normally associated with male sexual performance, testosterone has been found to affect women’s sexual desire as well. Testosterone levels diminish as women age, and are particularly low in surgically menopausal women. LibiGel®, which is absorbed into the skin of the upper arm, delivers testosterone in a controlled manner throughout the day. LibiGel® is the only product of its kind in clinical development. BioSante currently is testing LibiGel® in Phase III studies to test its safety and efficacy in menopausal women with HSDD.
The Archives of Internal Medicine article corroborates previously published studies that establish the high prevalence and impact of HSDD in menopausal women. “This seminal paper establishes, once and for all, what significant numbers of women and their sexual partners have known for a very long time, namely that HSDD is a real medical condition that should be taken seriously,” says Mr. Simes. “Millions of women will be relieved to know that female sexual dysfunction, and especially HSDD, is not just a psychological problem, but one that can be addressed physiologically. BioSante hopes that LibiGel® will be the first pharmaceutical product to receive FDA approval for the treatment of HSDD in menopausal women.”
For more information, log on to BioSantePharma.com.