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Egypt approves 'female Viagra' in bizarre bid to tackle high divorce rate

Egypt has the greatest number of women and girls who have experienced FGM [Getty]

Date of publication: 27 November, 2018

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Egypt has one of the world's highest rates of Female Genital Mutilation, which, as well as being an abhorrent bodily abuse, is a barrier to sexually satisfying experiences.

Egypt has approved the sale of "female Viagra" in a bid to tackle "high divorce rates" in the North African country, local media has reported.

Egypt's ministry of health has authorised the release of the drug, a pharmaceutical company is set to announce, reported the pro-government Al-Masry al-Youm newspaper.

This comes after "a study revealed that the biggest cause for divorce in Egypt is the lack of intimate relations between spouses", reads the report.

"The press conference will discuss the newest studies on the causes of divorce, which is over 50 percent in the first year of marriage, and the reasons for the breakdown of intimate relations," it added.

The drug approved by Egyptian health officials is flibanserin, which works on the brain to boost libido.

The medication, also known by is trade name Addyi or colloquially as "the pink pill", was approved by US regulators in 2015 to treat sudden and severe loss of sexual desire in women. It is effective in increasing sexually satisfying experiences by about one half over a placebo. Dizziness and nausea are common side-effects.

An Egyptian gynaecologist told al-Masry al-Youm that the drug was beneficial in only a small number of women, while others have said the claims of "loss of libido" is also fraught with misconceptions.

"Many Egyptian women suffer from a lack of orgasms because of circumcision (female genital mutilation)," he said.

With a female genital mutilation prevalence of 87.2 percent among all women aged 15-49 in a population of nearly 95 million, Egypt has the greatest number of women and girls who have experienced FGM of any country in the world.

FGM is the partial or full removal of the external sex organs for no medical purposes - ostensibly to control women's sexuality.

The procedure is common in some parts of the African continent, and practiced by both Muslims and Christians in Egypt.

In 2016, a lawmaker caused controversy after he encouraged women to undergo FGM in order to "reduce their libido" and "match the sexual impotence" of Egyptian men.

Local media have said the medication, which is manufactured in the United States by Sprout Pharmaceuticals, will be sold for 20 Egyptian pounds ($1.10) per pill.

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