Vyleesi vs Addyi: How Do These Drugs Treat Female Sexual Dysfunction?

Since the invention of Viagra, there had been a lot of speculation about a similar drug for women. Female patients suffering from sexual dysfunction had to wait 17 long years for the first medication to appear on the market. 

Today, we have two products available for the treatment of hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD) in women.

In 2015 the first medication, Addyi was approved in the United States. It was quickly dubbed “the female Viagra” by many media outlets. In June 2019 its contender, Vyleesi entered the market. What exactly distinguishes these two drugs and are they worth the hype?

Addyi and Vyleesi – how do they work?

Both treatments address the same problem – low desire in women who have not gone through menopause yet. There is no unanimous definition of desire. In general, it is understood as interest in sex and having erotic fantasies.

Erotic fantasies and women's desire

Erotic fantasies are an important part of desire

The active substance in Addyi is called flibanserin. It was originally designed to treat depression but clinical trials proved unsuccessful. The pill did, however, have an interesting side effect of improving women’s libidos.

Its mechanism of action is not fully known. It impacts the levels of substances like serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. These natural chemicals in our bodies are linked to desire levels.

The active ingredient of Vyleesi is called bremelanotide. It is also not completely clear how this drug affects women’s desire. To choose the right option, you will have to talk to your doctor first. Here are some practical things to consider:

Daily vs occasional use

The biggest difference between the two drugs – from a patient’s point of view – is the frequency of use. For Addyi to work you have to take it every day before bedtime. Vyleesi, on the other hand, is an on-demand medication that you take about 45 minutes before expected intimate contact.

Injection vs pill

Another important thing to consider is how you take the drugs. With Addyi, you just swallow a pill while Vyleesi is an injection. You don’t need to be a nurse to administer it. It’s more like a very small needle that diabetics use. You apply it to your thigh or abdomen. If needles aren’t your thing, this can be a cause for concern.

Side effects of Addyi and Vyleesi

The biggest question most women have when it comes to libido-boosting treatments is their side effects.

With Addyi there is a risk of low blood pressure and sleepiness. The FDA has also warned about using it with alcohol. At first, they recommended giving up alcohol altogether while taking the drug. Later they changed the warning and said you should abstain from drinking at least two hours before taking Addyi and for the rest of the night.

When taking Addyi be careful with alcohol

Addyi doesn’t pair up well with alcohol

The good news about Vyleesi is that it does not interact with alcohol. The bad news – it may cause nausea. It’s hard to imagine feeling frisky and sick at the same time, isn’t it?

How effective are these drugs?

The final thing to consider is – do these drugs actually work? Addyi and Vyleesi are not like Viagra. They don’t help with blood flow to genitals. They modify the substances that control our primary sex organ – the brain. And changing those delicate mechanisms is much harder than increasing circulation in the penis.

Women’s desire is a very complex phenomenon. The drugs available today won’t work if you’re suffering from mental health problems such as depression or are going through a crisis in your relationship.

Their effectiveness in clinical trials was moderate. Although the results for Vyleesi weren’t spectacular, 80% of women who took part in initial trials decided to continue with the one year follow up study.  Sounds promising.

Small improvement can make a difference

Experts say that even a small improvement can make a huge difference in a woman’s intimate life and relationship. If you’re suffering from low libido, it’s worth considering taking Addyi or Vyleesi and checking for yourself if they indeed can help.

For some couples, treatment is needed for both a man and a woman. Thanks to pills that help with erectile dysfunction, both can feel more relaxed and focus on the erotic experience. If you or your partner are suffering from ED, check out this page and learn more about easy and effective treatment options.

Anka Grzywacz is a sexologist, reproductive health expert and Certified Sex Coach™. In her online practice she helps busy parents solve their intimate problems.