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Sexual Arousal Disorder: "I Just Can't Get Excited"

The Story of Lucy

In their book For Women Only: A Revolutionary Guide to Reclaiming Your Sex Life, the Bermans tell the story of Lucy, a 43-year-old mom with very low genital sensation and lubrication. The Bermans suspected that Lucy's vaginal nerves and arteries had been injured during her hysterectomy 13 years earlier. They prescribed Viagra and sexual counseling. With the help of Viagra, Lucy was able to experience powerful orgasms for the first time in years.

In addition to Viagra, there are number of other medications that enhance arousal by causing blood vessels to expand, thereby increasing blood flow to the genitals. You'll have to work closely with your doctor if you want to try any one of the following medical treatments. Currently, there is no FDA-approved pharmaceutical product for treating any form of female sexual dysfunction.

  • Phentolamine, marketed as Vasomax for men and Vasotem for women, has been shown to improve arousal, lubrication and sensation in post-menopausal women with SAD.
  • The Eros-CTD(clitoral therapy device): Approved in May 2000 by the FDA for treatment of FSD, the CTD is a small cup with a pump that fits over the clitoris. When it is turned on, a gentle vacuum is created, increasing blood flow to the genital area. The device is designed not unlike the penile pump that was created for men many years ago. Says Jennifer Berman: "It can be used as part of foreplay. It can be used on its own. It's recommended to be used as sort of an exercise to maintain the health of your genital area...It's sort of a variation of a vibrator." What's the advantage of the CTD over a stimulator or vibrator? The CTD is intended for women who typically have problems becoming sexually aroused with manual and/or vibratory stimulation. If you find that you can become aroused with other kinds of stimulation (e.g. manually or with a vibrator), then your arterial system is indeed functioning and enough blood is traveling to the genital area to create engorgement, lubrication, and sensation, and you probably don't need this device, says Jennifer. To learn more about the CTD, go to, or call this toll-free number: 1/866-774-3767.
  • Other Alternatives: The Bermans say results are promising for L-arginine, an amino acid sold in health food stores and yohimbe, a West African herb used for centuries to enhance libido. L-arginine is essential for the formation of nitric oxide, which relaxes smooth muscles and widens blood vessels, leading to better circulation. You can take L-arginine orally, and some companies offer nonprescription topical creams that, when applied to the clitoris, may increase blood flow by dilating clitoral blood vessels. The standard dose is 1,500 mg per day.

Given the size of the market, many new drugs are likely to emerge in coming years to treat SAD, hypoactive sexual disorder, orgasmic disorder and sexual pain disorder. The Bermans are keeping a watch on the development of topical genital creams based on prostaglandin E-I, a factor that helps enlarge blood vessels, and the drug apomorphine. A new tablet form of apomorphine is being developed by Tap Pharmaceuticals. It could be the first medication to target the brain for improved sexual arousal.