"Some women could take or leave sex, some said it was very important and many women said that they wanted more physical closeness that didn't have to lead to orgasm or intercourse," Ellison said. "My concern about a 'female Viagra' is that when women try it and find out it isn't the solution for their sexual difficulties, they will feel like they have somehow failed."
"A number of drugs are being tested, and it is just a matter of time before a drug is out," said Tiefer, who two years ago founded A New View Campaign, an organization of social scientists, academics and clinicians who want to advance the idea that women's sexual problems are not necessarily only medical in nature and are also due to psychological, relationship and sociocultural factors.
Most psychiatrists and psychologists specializing in the treatment of sexual difficulties agree that pharmacological treatment may offer benefits for some women who have an unusually low propensity for sexual excitation. Therapeutic gains will probably be modest, however, Bancroft said.
Nevertheless, new medical methods are to be welcomed, he writes in the upcoming issue of journal Archives of Sexual Behavior, "provided they don't ... undermine the broad social and psychological factors impacting the human sexual experience."
Birds & Bees, a column about relationships and sexuality, runs on Monday. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.