Bioethics Blogs

Pink Pill or Blue Pill?

Robyn MacQuarrie explains why she will continue to prescribe Viagra instead of Addyi to treat some women’s sexual dysfunction.


I am a physician who often sees women who complain that sex isn’t fun. There are many reasons why women complain of dissatisfaction with their sex lives, one of which is decreased libido, or hypoactive sexual desire disorder. For those women, when I have ruled out other causes, I sometimes prescribe Viagra. This is an off-label use of Viagra.

Recently, a new drug—Addyi, or “pink Viagra,”—has been approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration to treat hypoactive sexual desire disorder. This drug has not yet been approved in Canada, but even if it were, it wouldn’t result in a change of practice for me.

Sexual dysfunction is a term used to describe a large group of disorders and conditions, all of which impact a woman’s sexual satisfaction. These include: decreased libido, difficulty with arousal, inability to achieve orgasm, pain with intercourse, and pain following intercourse. These problems often occur in combination with one another, have various potential causes, and aren’t always the result of an organic medical problem. For years, treating female sexual dysfunction was difficult for health care providers, as we had little to offer. Now that a new drug exists with an indication for hypoactive sexual desire disorder, I worry that health care providers will treat all causes of sexual dysfunction with a magic pink pill. There is no ONE simple cause of sexual dysfunction, and likewise there is not one simple solution.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.