Self Caring

Caregiver Sex (Not)

Last updated: Jun 23, 2010

Give us a kiss Sweetie

Do you have a physical disorder that's said to affect more than one in ten midlife American women -- or are you, um, a caregiver?

There's a new drug being called "Viagra for women" to treat hypoactive sexual desire disorder, a.k.a. low sex drive.

Lost libido is a "disease," say the makers of the drug (flibanserin), for which they're seeking FDA approval. Critics are saying, "Whoa, Nelly!" These experts believe that normal sexual desire in women covers a broad range and that medicalizing low sex drive -- calling it a "problem" -- will make healthy women think there's something "wrong" with them, when there's not.


Maybe they're just stressed out! Burned out! Maybe a middle-aged woman with low sex drive is too taxed by work and kids and house and caregiving to even think about sex. Maybe her partner is sick. Maybe her mom with dementia lives in the next room and keeps the daughter up all night with her wandering. Maybe she lies awake at night worried about money. Maybe she argues with a spouse over priorities and lack of support. Maybe she's grieving a relationship with a partner forever changed by illness.

Is it any coincidence hypoactive sexual desire disorder strikes middle-aged or older women most?!

I was snickering out loud when I got to the ending of the New York Times article about the drug:

"Boehringer [the manufacturer] has also sponsored medical education classes for doctors and nurses about hypoactive sexual desire disorder.

In one course, released online in May, a quiz asked doctors to diagnose the condition of a 42-year-old working mother who takes care of three children and her own sick mother, and who had no desire for sex. (Her husband is mentioned only in passing.)

The correct answer? Schedule a follow-up visit to evaluate whether she has diagnosable hypoactive sexual desire disorder."

Or gee, maybe instead of being so quick to slip her a drug, the doctor could prescribe her some respite care. Or better yet for that particular example, prescribe her a bottle of wine and a solo weekend, all by herself -- while her husband takes care of the kids and the mother. That's the way to recharge her batteries and feel more amorous toward him when she gets back!