Home' LOTL : April 2006 Contents 41
By Dr Ann
QA friend of mine recently gave me a box of “Femi-X” as a
birthday present. She says it’s the new “Female Viagra” and
there’s no harm in it – it’s herbal. Should I take the plunge?
ADear oh dear. What are the young ladies of today coming to? If
all the boys were jumping off a cliff would you do the same? First
crystal meth, now an orgasm in a blister pack. Sex is always
going to sell, and advertisers are always going to tell you you’re not
getting enough, or your orgasm isn’t “strong” enough, or you’re not
coming on time. Is the answer some herbs in a capsule? Let’s see…
Femi-X is one of several herbal concoctions (others include Fematril,
Femtrex, Lioness, Hot Plants, Lady V, Alura and … I kid you not:
Climatique), which are marketed as “a simple, natural way to enhance
your sexual happiness”. Lovely! Perhaps you didn’t think your “sexual
happiness” needed enhancing, or on the other hand, maybe you’ve
been experiencing the common problem of sexual dysfunction.
Dysfunction refers to a whole group of symptoms such as low libido,
difficulty becoming physically aroused, lack of lubrication, and difficulty
If you have found that sex is problematic for you, then a visit to your
friendly local GP may be in order. Often the problem can be a mixture of
both physical and emotional responses to sex. This means that while it
might be tempting to think a pill will cure all, it probably won’t address
some of the more fundamental aspects of your difficulties with sex.
Good GPs are able to take thorough and sensitive sexual histories from
their patients, and this, combined with physical examination, can help
diagnose the nature of your sexual problem.
If you have never had a problem with your sex life then you may be
curious about exactly how good sex can get. From what I have read
about the herbal “enhancers”, the promises made by their promoters
focus on increased feelings of sexual arousal, longer periods of arousal,
and more intense orgasms. You might notice that there isn’t a heavy
emphasis on the exquisite emotional connection and passionate
relationship with your sexual partner, but there aren’t many herbs
around that will provide that.
The way these herbal pills work is similar in theory to the way sildenafil
or “Viagra” works for erectile dysfunction in men. Sildenafil and similar
drugs in its class work due to the “enhancement” (there’s that word
again) of nitric oxide in your body. When nitric oxide is released, blood
vessels dilate and there is increased blood flow to your vulva. But there
can also be vessel dilatation and increased blood flow to other regions
of your body, creating headaches, flushing etc. In other, words whether
it’s a pharmaceutical or a herbal concoction you can get side effects.
The herbs and other substances which have been proven to have an
effect on erectile dysfunction in men are arginine, yohimbine, panax
ginseng, maca, and gingko biloba. There are medical studies which
show these to have an effect on nitric oxide. Some of the herbs used in
other concoctions do not have a similar level of evidence, despite their
websites claiming that “clinical trials” have been performed. The trials
cited are often with small numbers of women and the results are based
on subjective reports of desire, sensitivity and satisfaction.
There isn’t enough evidence yet to prove that herbal combinations
really work on a physical level. The pills seem very attractive as a
“quick fix”, but do they really address the issues which have led to your
dissatisfaction with your sex life?
There are probably as many different sexualities and sexual problems
as there are people. Your individual concerns are best addressed by
a doctor or therapist who knows you well. Remember that the largest
sexual organ in the body is the brain! So grab your loved one or object
of desire, dust off your imagination and use it! That’s what it’s for!
Dr Ann is a doctor at a Sydney metropolitan area hospital. The opinions
expressed in this column are those of the author and are not intended as
a substitute for medical advice. If you have concerns about your health
please consult your health practitioner.
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