A new essential oil blend called Zestra claims to restore sexual pleasure and drive for middle-aged women. It’s the first female arousal-enhancer I’ve seen on the market, but in the aftermath of Viagra’s success, scientists have been racing to create the first female Viagra. The pharmaceutical versions are sitting in FDA purgatory, but they’re a sure bet to make a buck, so you’d better believe they’re coming. I, for one, am not looking forward to that day.
Think of a guy trying to decide whether he needs Viagra. He wants to get it up; it’s not up. There’s very little room for debate. But for a woman, knowing whether there is a even a problem in the first place is much more complicated.
Until recently, women’s sexuality has been understood in terms of the male experience. This includes our experience of arousal, which is just starting to be understood on our own terms. In her now-famous bonobo study, Meredith Chivers showed women a series of videos, including videos of both humans and bonobos having sex. While women thought they were only into the humans, they were pretty into those bonobos too. Chivers’ results showed that women can accurately identify when they’re psychologically turned on, but are often unable to identify when they’re physically aroused. As it turns out, our bodies and our minds don’t quite connect (I’ll write a post on why that might be adaptive later).
Because we’re not totally in tune with our bodies, I would venture to say–tentatively–that women may be more susceptible to psychological pressures and cultural expectations (which, in our society, are full of contradictions). One recent study surveyed 964 women receiving routine gynecological care and found that a whopping 87.2% believe that they have an abnormally low sex drive. At a percentage like that, they’re normal! But such an enticingly ready market for the drug lords.
Our sex drive is complicated. We need some attention, some time, some vibe. Sometimes we’re stressed out, depressed, rushed, insecure, or dissatisfied in our relationships. Sex drive is a reflection of our mental state. Remember when Samantha Jones lost her mojo until she finally let herself cry? Our bodies are telling us something. Instead of popping a pill, maybe we should learn to listen.