Restless Vagina Syndrome?

“‘Restless Vagina Syndrome’: Big Pharma’s Newest Fake Disease” by Terry J. Allen discusses the attempt to medicalize women’s sexuality as if we were men with faulty functioning who need fixing. Allen, senior editor of In These Times, writes,

It’s not your fault, ladies (and certainly not your partner’s), that you don’t orgasm every time you have intercourse, or that you lack the libido of a 17-year-old boy. You have a disease: female sexual dysfunction (FSD), and the pharmaceutical industry wants to help.

You are among the “43 percent of American women [who] experience some degree of impaired sexual function,” according to a Journal of the American Medical Association article. The FDA’s evolving definition of FSD includes decreased desire or arousal, sexual pain and orgasm difficulties—but only if the woman feels “personal distress” about it.

So, convincing women to feel distress is a key component of the drug company strategy to market a multi-billion-dollar pill that will cure billions of women of what may not ail them.

Allen goes on to describe the big pharmaceutical companies’ attempts to define women’s sexuality as men’s sexuality gone awry — we should get turned on easily and have mind-blowing orgasms every time — and their failed attempts (so far) to give us instant arousal and explosive orgasms with drugs. She discusses several drugs and how they have not turned out to be helpful to women.

I agree that we’re not defective men, and we absolutely should not fall for attempts to medicalize what might be perfectly normal. I encourage you to read Allen’s article in full. (I itched to retitle it “Restless Clitoris Syndrome,” however!)

On the other side, I hear from enough unhappy women (and men) to assert that we often DO have medical reasons that our sex functioning isn’t working the way we want, especially as we age. I encourage both women and men who are experiencing changes in their desire and/or ability to get aroused and experience orgasm to see a trusted medical professional. It’s important to learn whether there’s a medical reason for the change and to explore treatment options, if so. The right hormonal treatment, or a change in other medications that are affecting our sexual response, can make an enormous difference in our enjoyment of our sexuality.

If the change is due to psychological and/or relationship issues, then a counselor or sex therapist can make the difference between a dissatisfying or non-existent sex life and a richly rewarding one.

Doing nothing about an unhappy sex life only insures that it will remain the same or worsen.


  1. Joan Price on July 8, 2010 at 3:59 pm

    Kara, I usually don't let comments through that promote products and lead my visitors to product sites, but I'm letting yours through because you were honest about working for Zestra and you made a useful comment. I am NOT endorsing this product myself, however. I haven't tested or reviewed it. Note that Zestra cannot be used with latex condoms.

  2. Kara on July 8, 2010 at 3:10 pm

    There are many times when I need a little extra something to get me sexually aroused. I have had a hard time finding what works for me. The stresses from everyday life really put a damper on my sex life. I work for Zestra, but have started to use the product myself. Zestra is an all natural
    lubricant oil. When I use Zestra it gives me a warm tingly feeling and heightens my sensitivity to touch. Zestra is a brilliant way to increase female libido. I am finally enjoying my sex life again.

  3. Joanna Cake on November 7, 2009 at 8:45 pm

    What Speak Sexy said.

    Problems with orgasm and arousal is something that we need to work through with our partner. Our bodies are changing and we need to accept that and find what does work for us as time goes on. Making a mountain out of a molehill can just make the problem worse. Surely relaxation and lack of stress is key here.

    Yes, if there is a problem with dryness or general arousal that cannot be improved by changing the circumstances or the mood of our sexual encounters, then we should visit the doctor to ensure that it is not a medical problem but, for me, introducing drugs and hormones often has its own side effects.

  4. Speak Sexy on November 6, 2009 at 4:54 pm

    I think the key here would be a change in "your" personal sexuality. For example, I get turned on very easily and my orgasms aren't hard to achieve – but if I am stressed, etc. I feel the changes in my sexual functioning immediately. However, if you're used to not getting turned on quickly, then this wouldn't be an issue for you and it's not a "problem" that needs "fixing". My LAST resort would be drugs of any kind!

  5. paula on November 4, 2009 at 1:11 am

    ". . . big pharmaceutical companies' attempts to define women's sexuality as men's sexuality gone awry — we should get turned on easily and have mind-blowing orgasms every time . . . ."

    Do men "get turned on easiily and have mind-blowing orgasms every time?"

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