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"It's Not Female Viagra": One Woman Shares How Addyi Changed Her Sex Life

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My husband and I met in college, and our sexual chemistry was amazing right from the beginning. Throughout our twenties and into the early years of our marriage, we'd have sex multiple times a day, every day of the week. It was one of the most wonderful parts of our relationship, and a key aspect in my own identity: I was passionate and sexual, and I loved being the initiator.

That all changed when I had my first son, at age 30. Yes, of course, everything about your life changes when you have a baby: your body, your job, your energy, your sanity, your relationship. I didn't want that to be true for me, but it was. Giving birth sapped all of my sexual desire for my husband. Not in the way I could have expected, though. It wasn't like we were too tired from feeding the baby at 3 a.m.; it was that I literally felt no need to have sex again. When my husband touched me—not just to initiate, but to cuddle or be affectionate—I recoiled. (Learn the 16 Things That Can Sink Your (or His) Sex Drive.)

My husband felt repulsive and rejected. I felt distant and incredibly guilty. I'd try to make love to him every two weeks or so, but it was out of obligation rather than desire. We had another son, but by age 35 I was actually contemplating divorce. We were like two coworkers whose only communications were about scheduling doctors' appointments or daycare. We were pleasant to each other, but our romance was over.

"When my husband touched me—not just to initiate, but to cuddle or be affectionate—I recoiled."

But I really didn't want my marriage to fall apart, so I started experimenting with different remedies. I tried herbal supplements, which didn't work and landed me on mailing lists for sex toys and penile enhancers. I talked to a doctor and tried antidepressants, in case my lack of energy or emotional connection were related to something deeper. Finally, I tried testosterone injections, thinking my problem had to be hormonal since it arrived after giving birth. The injections gave me a shorter temper and racing heartbeat—along with some some chin hair—but they didn't give me my libido back.

My husband and I were determined to try anything, so when he found an ad in the Washington Post seeking female subjects for a libido-enhancing drug, he shared it with me immediately. I thought What's one more try? and signed up.

Before I could begin the clinical trial, the researchers conducted a physical exam and loads of psychological and emotional testing. I thought they'd reject me because clearly having children was the issue in my relationship—not my body—but to my surprise, I was selected. They used the term "hypoactive sexual desire disorder," or HSDD, to describe what I had been dealing with, and I couldn't believe there was an actual name for this. I was like, wait, this is a real thing? I'm not just bad at life? Bad at marriage? I felt so relieved. (Find out everything you need to know about the "Female Viagra" Pill.)

I started taking the pills, and over the next year and a half I'd meet with doctors or a nurse practitioner about once a month to discuss my experience. Each time, I'd fill out a questionnaire gauging things like my sexual desire, how my body was reacting, and how many sexual experiences I had the month before.

I really didn't think there was a chance in hell this was going to work. I had been through all of these sex drugs with no result. I signed up for the trial because I had promised my husband that I would try anything to save our relationship.

About a month in, I felt a renewed energy, but it was for a different physical activity: running. I hadn't run in years, but I got the urge and I even lost a couple of pounds from these random bursts of exercise. Wow, look at me! I kept thinking. I'm taking control of my life! I felt fit and sexy, and then a time came when I realized my husband and I had had sex twice in one week. Huh. How do you like that, I thought.

To be honest, I thought I had accomplished this myself. I was the one who laced up my sneakers, I was the one who lost the weight, and I was the one who felt fit and sexy, so of course I was more interested in having sex. Then it happened twice the next week, and the week after. Seeing the numbers on my little questionnaire, I realized it might actually be the drug after all.

It wasn't as if I was suddenly horny 'round the clock. We weren't doing it on the kitchen table, or missing work. I just felt like myself again—a woman who enjoys sex and is attracted to her husband. It was normal life. (Are you dealing with a Low Sex Drive? 6 Ways to Lift Your Libido.)

Part of the trial was studying the effects of going off the drug too. Within a month of stopping, my husband and I were back to having occasional sex every few weeks. I was crushed. That was years ago.

Since I had so much success with the trial, I assumed the pill would be on the market in six months or so. I wanted it back! I could never have guessed it would be over five years before the FDA approved it. I was enraged. Didn't they understand how necessary this pill was? My doctor put me on the antidepressant Wellbutrin in the hopes of renewing that energy and connection, but all it did was make me feel even more numb. It was tough, but my marriage was stronger by then. My husband realized I wasn't lying; I did love him, I did want to be with him, I was attracted to him. I just had this health issue.

"I just felt like myself again—a woman who enjoys sex and is attracted to her husband."

We happened to be watching the news on TV as a family when they announced that Addyi was approved. My husband and I looked at each other with delighted glints in our eyes. We were both annoyed, however, with how people were talking about it. The female Viagra! As if women were just lacking an erection this whole time. Please.

There's so much more to this drug than being horny, and there's so much more to sex than having an erection (or being wet). Half of marriages fall apart, and people look back and think the turning point was having kids. I would have said that, at 35. Our relationship did suffer, but it wasn't because of our wonderful sons. It was because something was happening to me chemically. I'm so glad I know that now, and I'm so glad this drug will be out in October. My husband and I have the day starred in our calendar, and we'll be first in line at the pharmacy.

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