A study investigating a drug's effectiveness on women in relationships experiencing low libido is recruiting participants in Canberra.
The oft ignored issue of sexual desire diminishing over time is being brought out of the bedroom and into the public sphere, with studies taking place at 10 sites across Australia.
About 470 women are being recruited for the research which will investigate the use of a nasal spray to improve sexual desire.
The clinical research will replicate previous studies into the spray's capacity to increase desire which took place between 2015 and 2019 in Russia.
Principal investigator at Paratus Clinical Research Canberra where the trials will take place, Amber Leah, said the spray was found to be quite effective.
Dr Leah said participants in the Russian trials had reported an increased interest in sex.
Participants will be placed into four groups which will be randomly selected to receive one of three different doses of the drug, or a placebo.
They will be asked to record their sexual experiences during the course of the study, which will also involve five clinic visits and five phone calls over three months.
She said currently there were very few medications available for women with low libido in Australia.
"It's really something that gets overlooked," Dr Leah said.
"A lot of the women we're interviewing are saying, 'Look it's something that I've been experiencing for a really long time but I just haven't had it addressed'," she said.
Dr Leah said the benefits of a nasal spray over something administered orally included a reduced risk of gastrointestinal side-effects.
"A lot of the medications available haven't been found to be overly effective to date," Dr Leah said.
"It is a really important thing for the medical community recognise as a condition and one that is really affecting women's quality of life."
Sex therapist Kym Robinson said it would be wonderful if the solution to women suffering low libido was as simple as using a nasal spray but, until results showed otherwise, she remained sceptical.
Ms Robinson said there was no doubt it was a very common issue which effected a significant number of women.
"I am going to welcome anything with the potential to make women's lives a little easier when it comes to sex," Ms Robinson said.
"We know without a shadow of doubt that there are so many factors which affect a women's libido."
Ms Robinson pointed to women's upbringings causing them to be more inhibited towards sex, their relationships with their partners, sex education, religion, menopause and medications all being major contributors to low libido in women.
She said often women felt like they were having to push through their experience of low libido for the benefit of their partners and for the benefit of their relationship.
"If you're engaging sexually with your partner you're no longer in the flatmate zone and long-term relationships can look a lot like co-parenting children," Ms Robinson said.
She advised women suffering from low libido to practice making sex all about them.
"If they're doing it for someone else, it's not going to stick, they'll do it for a short period of time and it'll die off again," Ms Robinson said.
"If we do it because it's something we've learned to value for ourselves, we're going to keep doing it."
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