I Tried Addyi, the Sex Pill for Women — and Here's What Happened in My Marriage (Exclusive)

Addyi is the first FDA-approved treatment for women's sexual dysfunction. Debra Dillo shares how her marriage has changed since she started the medication

<p>Courtesy Debra Dillo</p> Debra and Todd Dillo

Courtesy Debra Dillo

Debra and Todd Dillo

There’s a pill on the market that few people know about: Addyi, an FDA-approved prescription medication that is used to treat low sex drive in women. Often mistakenly called the “female Viagra,” it starts working in women’s brains, not their bodies. Women take the non-hormonal pill every day rather than before sexual activity. And while it doesn't necessarily relieve the physical symptoms associated with menopause and perimenopause — such as vaginal dryness and pain with sex — women say that it helps increase their sex drive.

"As far back as the Bible, we have valued sexual satisfaction for men, yet the narrative for women still questions how much sex is enough to deserve tools to improve their sex lives,” says Cindy Eckert, owner and CEO of Sprout Pharmaceuticals, the company that developed Addyi. "When Viagra was approved for men's most common sexual dysfunction, it received rare fast track status and was FDA approved within six months. Addyi took six years. It tells you how little we value pleasure for women." The drug, which has proven effective for hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD or low libido), is currently being used by women of all ages and life circumstances. While it is not specifically intended for women in menopause, doctors can prescribe Addyi to any patient they feel is appropriate, Eckert says.

Debra Dillo, 58, first learned about Addyi from Eckert, who she knew socially. Through a telehealth appointment, a prescribing doctor determined the business owner from Garner, North Carolina, was a good candidate for the drug. She started Addyi about 4 months ago and within two weeks, she says, she experienced a positive change in her sexual relationship with her husband of 27 years. This is her story.

<p>Courtesy Todd Dillo</p> Debra Dillo

Courtesy Todd Dillo

Debra Dillo

We had a wonderful family life growing up. I owned my own business and my husband Todd, who is 53 now, was a stay-at-home dad to our 4 boys. He coached their travel sports and volunteered at their schools. We were both very busy. It was nuts, but fun. We've had a great marriage. We had some rocky times in there because marriage is hard and it takes a lot of work, but we were both committed to having this beautiful family and this wonderful life, and we both worked hard at it.

When I was about 48, I started losing some of my hormones. Estrogen started decreasing and I was getting bad headaches, I couldn't sleep. So I reached out to an age management doctor and I started doing hormone replacement therapy, which helped some. But it didn't fix everything.

I am not one to embrace aging gracefully. I'm fighting it with every ounce of me. I have always strived to be the healthiest human being I can be mentally and physically.

When I learned about this Addyi pill and started taking it, I was like, oh my goodness! I call it my happy pill. Within two weeks I started waking up after sleeping all night long and feeling really happy. I used to be so tired because I worked so much — I didn’t want to do anything on the weekends. Since I started taking this, I'm ready to go: What are we doing? Where are we going? And I'm just in a great mood.

As the body gets older, it starts not to cooperate as well when it comes to sex. Things don't work as grand as they used to. It’s harder to climax. It’s just a little bit more work. You’re not always in the mood. And I loved my husband, loved my life, and loved my sex life. But the aging had hit me mentally.

<p>Courtesy Debra Dillo</p> Todd and Debra Dillo

Courtesy Debra Dillo

Todd and Debra Dillo

Plus, after years of super busy family life, our boys were growing up. And when your kids leave, all of a sudden you're looking at each other like, wow, we have time now. And so Todd and I are hitting that phase. And this Addyi pill came along at the right time.

These days I am in such a good mood that I look at my husband — I mean, I'm very attracted to him — so of course the wheels start turning again, and then my body just cooperates so much better.

I feel more like my 30-year-old self than I do a 58-year-old self! My brain is telling me I'm 30 and my body's feeling that way too. It cooperates. It does all the things it did when I was 30.

I wake up in the mood. I'm walking around during the day and I'm in the mood. And, I don't generally say no when he initiates.

Intimacy is quite a bit more frequent these days — a couple of years ago it was maybe once every two weeks, but now it can be up to three times a week.

And I go at it with a lot more gusto.

<p>Courtesy Debra Dillo</p> Debra Dillo

Courtesy Debra Dillo

Debra Dillo

Here’s Todd's perspective:

When Deb first said she was going to try this out, honestly, the first thing I said was, why? I don’t think you need it. And then I'm like, sure, go ahead if you want to try it.

Based on the initial description of it, you think that it's going to be like an actual Viagra thing and she's going to be running around all horny all the time That didn't happen. But I definitely noticed a better mood, which is probably from better sleep. The better mood created more opportunities for "couple stuff."

It’s a great addition to our relationship. Sex is discussed more these days. And when it does occur, I can tell a difference — there’s more passion, she’s more into it and less distracted.

And there is foreplay throughout the day. Intimacy is constantly being talked about, and there are little eye raises here and there. And that fuels what happens later. For example, we get home from work and I'm getting in the shower and she comes in and makes a few comments, which didn't happen before. She also initiates more.

The difference I have noticed is not only physical, it’s mental. The positive change in Deb's mental health has made a big impact. I’m very welcoming of that.

<p>Courtesy Debra Dillo</p> Todd and Debra Dillo

Courtesy Debra Dillo

Todd and Debra Dillo

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