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New York, U.S.A. — The July 9 New York Times article, “More Women Look Over the Counter for a Libido Fix,” by Abby Ellin is a story about how a low sexual libido is surprisingly common in young women and how the marketplace is starting to respond to women’s plight for sexual enhancement products.
“With the recent advent of media bringing female sexuality to the forefront such as the book 50 Shades of Grey and the film ‘Magic Mike,’ a women’s sex drive, which until recently was not a family-friendly topic is now water cooler conversation. Women are no longer ashamed to talk about their sex lives or their desire to improve them,” said Dr. Michael L. Krychman, Executive Director of the Southern California Center for Sexual Health and Survivorship Medicine.
Rachel Braun Scherl, president of Semprae Laboratories, the manufacturer of Zestra explains, “There are a number of factors that will lower a women’s libido, desire, arousal or satisfaction, many of which are not age-specific. These include side effects from medications including oral birth control and anti-depressants; hormonal changes due to post pregnancy or menopause; the physiological and emotional impact of cancer treatment; realities and side effects of medications for a number of medical conditions including diabetes, obesity and MS; and the all-encompassing stress.”
In the absence of an FDA approved female counterpart to men’s sexual satisfaction drugs like Viagra, Cialis and Levitra, many women are turning to over-the-counter products, including lubricants, arousal gels, massage oils, nutritional and herbal supplements, and vibrators.
Chain stores, including drugstores, are now selling these products. Zestra Essential Arousal Oils, for example, is now sold in 1,800 Wal-Mart’s, up from 880 in 2010, as well as Kmart, Rite Aid and Meijer. Rachel Braun Scherl explains, “Clearly, women and men are asking for these products. Zestra has kept its retail shelf space with just one retail product (although broader range is available online).”
Zestra’s second double-blind clinical study, the only study of its kind to be printed in a medical journal, was conducted with women 21 to 65 demonstrating that Zestra, a blend of botanical oils and extracts, worked equally effectively for women of all ages and reproductive life stages.
Female sexual dysfunction becomes an official diagnosis (to be called female sexual interest/arousal disorder) in the DSM-V, the new edition of the psychiatric diagnostic manual, due in 2013.
Still, the proliferation of these sexual enhancement products — and their emphasis on fixing a problem that is extremely hard to define — leaves some people worrying that women will start focusing on so-called trouble spots and putting pressure on themselves to perform. Rachel Braun Scherl advises, “Our idea is not to get women to have more sex — not that there is anything wrong with that — it’s that if they’re having sex they should enjoy it.”