Having trouble reaching the Big O between the sheets? You’re not alone. Sexual dysfunction has become the “disease of the moment” and there’s a pill, toy, surgery, and counselor there to help cure you. But how did all the hubbub come about in the first place?
A documentary directed by Liz Canner attempts to answer this question by diving into the world of Female Sexual Dysfunction (FSD) and the pharmaceutical industry’s attempt to cure it. Canner, an award-winning director of human rights documentaries, exposes FSD in a comical and shocking film for what it really is: “Not a disorder in itself, but a side effect of something else.”
After working on multiple human rights documentaries, Canner was getting nightmares and was starting to get depressed. In an attempt to tackle a lighter subject, she turned to sex. “I had actually been wanting to do a film on what women have had to say on pleasure over the centuries, but I resisted it for a long time,” she says. So in between documentaries, she took a job editing adult films for a drug trial sponsored by a pharmaceutical company. Along the way, she discovered FSD was basically a disease created by drug companies so they could create a cure.
Originally, she wasn’t aware the pharmaceutical industry was involved. “I was just trying to understand the disorder, I mean [according to statistics] 42 percent of women suffer from it,” she says. “The reality is that there are real medical conditions out there that can cause sexual problems as a side effect.”
Canner said that after the approval of sexual dysfunction drugs for men, the drug companies wanted to try the drug on women to see if it would work. But in order to do that, they needed a disease; the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) will not allow drug companies to test a drug without first having a disorder.
“In the film you learn how the FDA decides the disease exists, and how it creates a whole industry,” she says. “There are devices, surgeries, drugs, and the list goes on and on. But oftentimes, the solution is not taking a pill or doing a surgery or having a medical intervention. In fact, sometimes the best solution is doing something like reading and researching (in this case figure out what works for you), exercise, solving relationship problems, and changing all of these other lifestyle conditions that affect desire and pleasure.”