Can women take Viagra?

Can women take Viagra?

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You might have heard the term ‘Female Viagra’ when researching sexual problems in women. Unfortunately, there is no such thing as female Viagra in the UK currently and you cannot buy female Viagra. However, there are certain products in other countries like the USA that have been approved. 

Tablet of contents:

Sexual Problems in Women

Does Viagra work for women?

What happens if a woman takes Viagra?

Addyi (Flibanserin)

Sexual Problems in Women

When a woman has persistent problems with sex, such as pain or libido problems, it is known as female sexual dysfunction (FSD). Many women will have problems with sexual activity at some stage of their life. Around a third of young and middle-aged women are affected by sexual problems. 

Issues associated with FSD include a low sex drive, pain during sex, and orgasm problems. A low sex drive might also be known as hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD).

FSD can be caused by a number of factors. These include medical conditions like diabetes, psychological issues like depression and a history of trauma, and hormonal changes such as oestrogen loss after the menopause. It can also arise from relationship problems.

According to the Sexual Advice Association, investigations into sexual problems in women should look at both physical and/or psychological causes. A sexual health doctor or counsellor can ascertain the underlying causes behind a sexual problem and can recommend the appropriate treatment.

Women who experience FSD problems like a low libido may look to the internet for advice. Through this research, some people hear about the Viagra pill for women.

Does Viagra work for women with FSD?

Viagra is a well-known drug used to treat erectile dysfunction (ED) in men. However, Viagra is only licensed for men and there is currently no Viagra for women. There is no strong evidence that Viagra can improve symptoms of FSD in women.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Authority (MHRA) in the UK has only approved it for use in men. This is also the case with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Women who are experiencing FSD should first speak to their GP about their problems to help identify the cause. Your GP can help you identify whether your FSD is caused by physical, psychological, or hormonal problems. Establishing the cause can help you to find an effective treatment. Treatments like HRT for postmenopausal women or medicines for anxiety and depression may improve FSD.

 

What happens if a woman takes Viagra?

In men, Viagra works by opening up blood vessels and increasing blood flow to the genitals. This increased blood flow to the penis helps men get and maintain an erection but does not increase libido.

There have been very few studies that have researched the effect of Viagra, or the active ingredient sildenafil, in women with FSD. There is no strong evidence that taking Viagra improves libido or sexual satisfaction in women. There is some evidence to suggest that sildenafil can affect tissue in the vagina and clitoris. However, there is no strong evidence that this is beneficial for FSD.

One study found no significant difference between sildenafil and placebo in sexual function for women with sexual dysfunction problems. This included some women with female sexual arousal disorder. This supports that there is no beneficial Viagra effect on women. The study found the main side effects were nausea, headache, flushing, and visual disturbances, and were generally only mild or moderate.

Because of a lack of evidence for Viagra use in women, it is not licensed for FSD in the UK. However, sildenafil can sometimes be prescribed for women to treat specific conditions, like pulmonary arterial hypertension.

 

Addyi (Flibanserin)

Currently only available in the US, Flibanserin (Addyi) is an FDA approved treatment for low sexual desire in women. It can only be prescribed by trained specialists. There are no immediate plans for it to be made available in the UK. 

Although Addyi’s mechanism of action is largely unknown, theoretically it works by affecting the chemistry of the brain. This is important because Viagra has a proven physiological effect, unlike Addyi which works on the brain. This makes the term ‘female viagra’, commonly used when referencing this medicine, both confusing and misleading.

There are many other products on the market that are mostly herbal. These claim to be a female Viagra pill and improve sexual experience for women. These might be marketed as the ‘pink pill’ to link it to the ‘blue pill’ for Viagra.

However, these products are not well regulated and have no scientific backing. You should be very wary of any products marketed as female Viagra over the counter. These will not be regulated and licensed medicines.

The use of Viagra by women has been popularised online and in magazines through anecdotal evidence of an increase in sexual satisfaction.  Due to a lack of evidence, this is not recommended in the UK. There is also the risk of using a medicine which is only licensed for men and which can cause adverse effects.