How Exactly Does The So-Called 'Female Viagra' Pill Work?

06/09/2015 11:31 am ET | Updated Jun 10, 2015

Flibanserin, the so-called "female Viagra" which aims to treat a lack of sexual desire among women, is on its way to getting the official FDA stamp of approval. But some say the Viagra comparison is all wrong.

Dr. Sharon Parish, a professor of medicine with Weill Cornell Medical College, explained on HuffPost Live that while Viagra targets a man's sexual organs, flibanserin works with the chemistry of a woman's brain.

"This is a drug that works essentially in women's brains, and then certainly the brain interacts with all the parts of the body that are involved in the sexual response," she told host Caroline Modaressy-Tehrani. "But Viagra really works on the genitals. That's not what this medication does. It's not causing an increase in blood flow to the specific area responsible for sexual response."

Parish said the real similarity between Viagra and flibanserin has been the reaction by the public, which has considered them both "blockbuster drugs" and "game-changers." Overall, Parish is glad to see flibanserin receiving potential recognition by the FDA.

"This represents a step forward. This medication, from our viewpoint, has a reasonable benefit-risk profile. There are some risks … but there's also been substantial benefits", she said. "And it's no riskier than any [central nervous system] drug that is available from prescription, or even if you walk in and get [it] off the shelf in some pharmacies, like Benadryl or Claritin."

Watch the full HuffPost Live conversation about flibanserin here.

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