TODAY   |  May 23, 2013

New drugs aim to increase female desire

Studies show up to 15 percent of women between the ages of 20 and 60 have a sexual desire disorder. TODAY’s Savannah Guthrie reports on the new drugs being developed to help women with sexual dysfunction and relationship experts Ian Kerner and Logan Levkoff discuss the pills, calling female sexuality “hugely complicated.”

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>>> turn and talk about the effort to find a drug that would boost a woman's sexual desire . they may be nearly here.

>> don't let erectile dysfunction get in the way.

>> for 15 years, the little blue pill has offered men help in the bedroom, but what about women ? studies show between 1 and 4 years into a relationship, a woman's sexual interest begins to dive. and up to 15% of women between the ages of 20 and 60 years old suffer from what's known as hypoactive sexual desire disorder defined as a lack of lust that creates emotional stress . in an excerpt from a new book, "what do women want" the "new york times" magazine highlights a new set of drugs that aim to increase sexual desire in women . let's turn to sex and relationship experts ian kerner and logan lepcot. i should mention, actually, these two new drugs we mentioned are created by a company called emotional brain. they're still in the trial period. could be years away before we have fda approval. let's get that out of the way. first of all, let's address the problem that this aims to correct which is that women in monogamous relationships have some sort of inordinate dropoff in sexual desire . do you find that on the front lines of this?

>> i would say for couples as a whole men and women sexual desire does tend to wane as you go through a relationship. we did a survey of about 5,000 men and women on the topic of sexual boredom and relationship boredom and 50% were bored in their relationship.

>> but we seem be surprised when it's men. when women are saying i'm bored, i want novelty, i want diversity and it calls into question this concept of monogamy. we might choose it, but is it natural? jury's still out ..

>> and boredom is not a medical issue. you don't take a pill to make your relationship less boring.

>> that leads me to my next question. let's say a woman does have a drop you've in sexual desire that she finds to be so problematic she wants to address it with a pharmaceutical. can you even do that? isn't female sexuality kind of complicated?

>> hugely complicated. and we are a pill-popping society, but women have been socialized and brow beaten for years, turn off your sexuality, don't be sexual, you're not equal to men in these areas. all that guilt and shame plays a role in our libido.

>> what are the implications of trying to fix this with a drug rather than addressing deeper relationship issues.

>> i think you're treating a symptom and not the cause. for me, your sexual well being is connected to your overall well being . if you don't feel desire in the bedroom, there could be something wrong with diet, exercise, stress levels, your health.

>> your partner.

>> your relationship.

>> last but not least, your relationship. but i will say, you know, particularly like for the millions of men and women who are on antidepressants and who have artificially high seratonen levels, perhaps having a pill to balance and lower it temporarily --

>> be careful, sex therapist , let's not get too graphic here, but some people call this viagra for women , that's a little bit of a misnomer.

>> it works by increasing blood flow to the genitals, female sexuality is different. the lens through which we like to talk about sex is always buy biological.

>> what's interesting about the drugs being tested is it seeks to address desire, something more psychological.

>> exactly, and the other thing to remember is even with viagra, doesn't address desire in men either. and there are millions of americans, in fact, in all of my work with couples, it is just as likely for a guy to be experiencing low desire as for his female partner.

>> all right. thank you so much. we appreciate it.