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“Anything new for the ladies in 2007?”

December 21st, 2006

Dr Petra

As peer review journals go this has to be one of the strangest titles for an editorial, but ‘anything new for the ladies in 2007?’ features in the latest edition of British Journal of Urology International (BJUI) (see BJUI, 2007, ps207-208).

In fact the author notes he might be on a bit of dodgy ground with the title in his opening sentence: “I suppose in this politically correct era the more appropriate question should be is there anything on the horizon for women and their partners, in the context of female sexual dysfunction (FSD) in 2007?”

Oh for the good old days in urology when you could be as politically incorrect as you wished.

Interestingly even with the revised opening sentence it doesn’t avoid problems, given that the term ‘female sexual dysfunction’ is a hotly contested one with many medics seeing it as something that transforms female sexual behaviour or dissatisfaction into a full-blown medical disease.

The editorial does contain some useful nuggets as it points out there’s very little new to offer ‘the ladies’ with sex problems currently or in the coming year. In particular phosphodiesterase inhibitors (PDES) that are often promoted in the media as a means to ‘cure’ women’s lack of desire have (according to the BJUI) “no generalised benefits”. So worth remembering that next time you see a media health report advocating them.

Elsewhere in the feature Proctor and Gamble’s Intrinsa patch is mentioned. Intrinsa was turned down for FDA approval over concerns about safety and testing, although it does have permissions to develop it in Europe and is being touted in the media currently as being available from Spring 2007. The BJUI have a different view though: “certainly this product will not be approved or marketed within the next 12 months” and continues to say if the product is approved many other generic brands will follow. The journal wishes Proctor and Gamble well with the patch, so no conflict of interest there then.

Perhaps the confusion over product launch could be to do with their sources of evidence which rather than a review of the literature and forthcoming patents/trials appears to be going to some conferences and talking to the medical reviewer of the Sunday Times paper. Although the latter’s not much use since although she claims there are over 20 products being developed for female sexual dysfunction she won’t reveal any of them.

What we ladies (and our partners) can expect to see in the new year are many magazine features about the lack of female desire and how there are many products coming on stream to fix our problems, but this is contrasted with the view from BJUI who categorically state: “at least for the remainder of this decade it is safe to assume that no drug will be marketed widely for the treatment of FSD, or for that matter erectile dysfunction”.

Perhaps because this is an editorial from a urology journal that we don’t see any discussions of addressing female sexual dysfunction outside a medical view of drug treatments. Social problems, body image, domestic violence, lack of education, physical or mental health problems that affect men and women and contribute to their sexual problems are not mentioned. Nor are any psychological or educational approaches outlined that might address women’s sex problems, and no mention is made that FSD itself is a contested issue even though this is widely recognised within healthcare.

I’m not sure why, but the BJUI feature reminded me of a joke film of how ladies should behave. So since it’s Christmas please enjoy ‘Women. Know your limits!’ courtesy of You Tube.

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