By LOUISE CARR, Associate Editor and Featured Columnist
Viagra is already a hit with men who can’t get an erection. Judging by the $819 million sales of Viagra in 2013, this Pfizer-made drug is in the medicine chests of millions of men across America. Viagra works by increasing the blood flow to the penis, making it easier to attain and maintain an erection.
But is Viagra only for men? The little blue pill can work wonders for guys but could it also bring women a bedtime bonus, too? Increased blood flow down below could, in theory, benefit women in the bedroom too. What does Viagra do for women? Is Viagra safe for women to take?
Study Shows Viagra Improves Sex for Postmenopausal Women
Viagra is obviously a hit with men who are having difficulties in the bedroom, but a new study shows it also improves sex for some postmenopausal women.
The 2003 study was conducted by researchers at Northwestern University in Chicago and the UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles. Scientists looked at 202 postmenopausal women who had been diagnosed with female sexual arousal disorder (FSAD) – a condition which makes it difficult or impossible for a woman to attain sexual excitement, or to maintain it.
While some of the women taking a placebo pill reported increased genital sensation and greater sexual satisfaction, the improvements were much more marked in the women taking Viagra. Among the women taking the blue pills, 69 percent reported improvement in sexual satisfaction, eight times higher than the placebo group.
Further Studies Point to Viagra’s Effectiveness for Females
What’s more, a 2014 study by the Shiraz University of Medical Sciences, Shiraz, Iran found that Viagra was effective at reducing the frequency of “orgasmic disorder” in women. The study looked at 125 women between the ages of 18 and 40.
In a 2014 study from researchers at the Centre of Mental Health Education and Research at Delmont Private Hospital, Glen Iris, Australia, Viagra helped to manage the effects of antidepressant-induced sexual dysfunction in both sexes.
And a 2008 study from the University of São Paulo, Brazil demonstrated that Viagra improved blood flow to the clitoris and improved scores on the Golombok Rust Inventory of Sexual Satisfaction (GRISS) scale for postmenopausal women who had difficulty achieving orgasm.
Viagra Helps Treat Acute Menstrual Pain?
Women with primary dysmenorrhea suffer from intense menstrual pain and researchers at the BetaPlus Center for Reproductive Medicine, Zagreb, Croatia decided to test the effectiveness of Viagra for relieving this pain.
In the 2013 study, a vaginal preparation of Viagra did alleviate the pain associated with this menstrual condition, without any adverse side effects.
But… Viagra Doesn’t Work For Every Woman With a Sexual Problem
In the 2003 study from Northwestern University in Chicago and the UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles, the little blue pill didn’t make any difference to women who also suffered from a condition called hypoactive sexual desire disorder or HSDD as well as female sexual arousal disorder (FSAD).
Women suffering from hypoactive sexual desire disorder are likely to have an underlying emotional or psychological issue that affects their sexual desire, which Viagra is not known to help with.
A pill alone cannot, according to experts, medicate the intensely personal and complex interplay of female sexual desire. In fact, scientists carrying out the study stated that "Unresolved emotional or relational issues should be addressed before beginning medical therapies” such as treatment with Viagra.
Also bear in mind that this study was funded by Viagra-makers Pfizer.
In a 2002 study from Vancouver Hospital and Health Sciences Center, British Columbia, Canada researchers discovered that any effect on the body from taking Viagra did not translate to improved sexual response in women.
And what’s more, adverse events were reported by the female participants in the study, which included headaches, nausea, visual disturbances, rhinitis, and flushing.
These side effects were mild to moderate in strength. Women are cautioned against using Viagra because these side effects have not been fully studied in women – Viagra is a men’s drug, so studies into the safety and effectiveness of Viagra for women are scarce.
Is Viagra Safe for Women?
The bottom line is, Viagra is not licensed for women’s use. The US Food and Drug Administration approves it only for men. There is little research into the side effects that may occur if a woman takes this drug designed for combating a male problem – and medical advice would be never to take a prescription medicine without it being prescribed by a physician.
So, hold off on popping the blue pill. If you are not satisfied in bed, or you are confronting some serious sexual dysfunction issues, there are other ways to relieve the problem. Chat to your physician or visit a sex counselor for professional advice that may make a difference to your sex life without turning to Viagra.