Female sexual dysfunction (FSD) is a highly prevalent, yet commonly underdiagnosed and undertreated condition. This paper reviews the diagnostic terminology for FSD, and basic sexual physiology in women. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved drugs for FSD are discussed, followed by investigational drugs for FSD currently in phase 2 or 3 clinical trials, reasons for failure of drug development, and potential future drug targets. Areas covered: A literature review was conducted for available treatments for FSD: flibanserin, estrogen, ospemifene and prasterone. Potential treatments are assessed, as was the Pharmaprojects database which includes clinical trial information. Testosterone, bremelanotide, bupropion-trazodone, PDE-5 inhibitors, prostaglandins, tibolone and combination therapies, and the theoretical basis of potential drug targets are discussed. Expert opinion: The lack of established endpoints for phase 3 studies of FSD has impeded approval of new treatments, and required additional studies for validation, resulting in proposed changes to the FDA draft guidance for FSD clinical trials in October 2016. Current DSM-5 diagnostic nosology also fails to capture the full range of symptomology. Several promising compounds have shown no movement for several years limiting women's options. Overcoming socio-cultural bias against women's sexual and reproductive health will be critical in the approval of new treatments for FSD.
Keywords: Female sexual dysfunction; flibanserin; hypoactive sexual desire disorder; ospemifene; prasterone.