Top

Viagra: Potential Benefits for Women Too

Smiling, mid-adult woman, portrait

The active ingredient in Viagra could relieve more types of symptoms than you think.

Not long after the prescription medication, sildenafil citrate, much better known as Viagra, became widely available in 1998, experts in the medical field began speculating about whether it held any benefits for women. New, and not-so-new, research suggests that it might.

Clinical trials haven’t been as promising with women as men. To date, there is no pharmaceutical Viagra equivalent for women, and medications that have been through trials haven’t met with FDA approval. The reasons for this are mainly because of one simple fact that we all learned at a very young age — men and women are different.

The causes of sexual performance and response issues are not identical for women as men. And so medications for men might not target the right issue in women. However, Viagra might just help women after all, at least to a degree, with both related and somewhat unrelated problems.

Pelvic Pain is Common, and Needs a New Remedy

PD pain is very real and relief isn’t always reliable or safe, so the need for an effective alternative has been clear for some time. Viagra might just be it.

Primary dysmenorrhea, or PD, is a naturally occurring pain associated with menstruation. In an FAQ publication that addresses gynecological problems, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology  says PD differs from secondary dysmenorrhea, which is caused by a disorder, such as endometriosis, fibroids, or other conditions.

PD is characterized by painful periods, specifically pelvic pain. In many women, PD pain can be debilitating, even though there is no underlying health condition.

The source of PD pain is believed to be prostaglandins, which are natural chemicals that line the walls of the uterus. Shortly before a woman’s period begins, prostaglandin levels increase, which can trigger PD pain. As the lining of the uterus sheds, which is the normal process of menstruation, prostaglandin levels decrease, pain usually lessens, and then subsides.

When PD pain is severe, as it is for many women, remedies such as the non-steroid pain reliever, ibuprofen, can sometimes help. But for some women, over-the-counter pain remedies have little or no effect. For women with bleeding disorders, asthma, ulcers, or other conditions, these common pain relievers aren’t safe. And if PD pain happens regularly, the regular use of pain relievers can cause unhealthy side-effects, not the least of which is liver and kidney damage.

Another therapy that some doctors prescribe is hormones, such as birth control pills. But many women object to taking hormones for different reasons, including the desire to become pregnant.

New Research Suggests Viagra’s Ingredient Helps PD Symptoms

A team of researchers, led by Penn State’s Richard Legro, M.D., conducted a study on the use of sildenafil citrate for the relief of PD. They noted the risks of using non-steroidal pain relievers, especially with long-term use, and set out to determine whether Viagra’s ingredients might provide alternative relief for women.

This wasn’t a shot in the dark, by any means, according to Matthew Solovey for Penn State News. Clinical studies in the past had already revealed that Viagra could reduce PD pain. Unfortunately, taking it orally led to a higher-than-tolerable incidence of headaches and other side effects, so its mainstream use for treating PD never got off the ground.

Oxford University Press published Dr. Legro’s study in the Human Reproduction  journal, summer of 2013. Working with researchers at Nova Gradiska General Hospital, located in Croatia, Legro asked 29 women between the ages of 18 and 35 to participate. Each woman had reported moderate to severe PD.

Because of the headache side-effect reported in previous tests, the team prepared a vaginal treatment of sildenafil citrate and administered it to half the participants; the other half received a placebo. This was a typical “double-blind” experiment, where neither group knew which preparation they received. The purpose of a double-blind study is to help avoid bias where some might imagine effects, or others might feel compelled to report effects, based on the knowledge that they had taken a medication.

The women were asked to rate their pain over a period of four hours, and the results were promising. Although both groups experienced increased blood flow, for reasons currently unknown, the group receiving sildenafil citrate reported a marked reduction in pain; the placebo group didn’t fare as well.

Unfortunately, this study lost its funding, so more trials are needed. But results suggest that the same drug men use for erection health might also provide much-needed relief for women who suffer monthly from primary dysmenorrhea.

Viagra Wasn’t Developed for Erection Health Issues, Either

Off-label use of prescription medications isn’t unheard of. And under a doctor’s care, it’s generally regarded as safe. The use of sildenafil citrate to ease the pain of primary dysmenorrhea might come as a surprise, but Viagra was developed for something entirely different from erection health, too.

Sildenafil citrate was intended as a treatment for hypertension, or high blood pressure, and angina. In clinical trials, the drug was found to have little or no effect for treating angina, but it did prove somewhat useful for treating hypertension. The effect that no one expected was its ability to produce erections.

The active ingredient in Viagra causes muscle tissue to relax, and blood flow to increase. The relaxation of smooth muscle cells allows blood to flow into the tissue more effectively. And so Viagra was born, and became one of the most widely recognizable drugs in America. Chances are, sildenafil citrate’s uses aren’t fully known yet.

Woman reclining on bed

Viagra could help your love life, too.

There are Other Potential Benefits for Women

Dr. Legro’s study on the effects of sildenafil citrate in women certainly wasn’t the first, or even the second. Pfizer has conducted studies of its own, and in 2004 released some interesting information. This study included post-menopausal women, whether menopause was natural or induced by hysterectomy.

Female Sexual Arousal Disorder, or FSAD, is a condition that manifests as distress linked to the inability to reach or maintain sexual arousal. Over 200 post-menopausal women with FSAD, aged 30 to 71, were included in Pfizer’s study. As with Legro’s work, half of the participants received Viagra, and the other half did not.

Although participants in both groups reported increased genital sensation, the occurrence was higher in the women who were given Viagra. But the results are better when you examine one more factor.

Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder, or HSDD, may accompany FSAD. WebMD  says HSDD is linked to emotional or relationship problems — Viagra targets physical ones. In Pfizer’s research, the women who received Viagra experienced more improvement than women who received the placebo. However, the distribution was only a little better than half-and-half.

Viagra recipients tipped the scales a bit with 57% improvement, and placebo recipients also reported a 44% improvement. But when women who suffered from HSDD were excluded from the results, improvement among Viagra recipients jumped to 69%. That’s noteworthy.

In 2008, another study was revealed, and it has a lot more to do with sexual fulfillment in women. The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) published research that suggested Viagra could help women who had difficulty reaching orgasm. The study included premenopausal women who experienced sexual dysfunction due to antidepressant use.

A remarkable 72% of women who took Viagra reported improvement, while only 27% of women taking the placebo reported the same. The typical headache side-effects of Viagra were also reported.

So Viagra might help women improve sexual health after all.

Although it’s not a magic pill or ingredient, sildenafil citrate has come a long way and has proven much more useful from its initial clinical trials for hypertension and angina. The medical community will likely continue to research the benefits for both men and women.

In the treatment of primary dysmenorrhea, more research is needed before a medication is marketed. The study was small, and more funding is necessary to continue. Some doctors may prescribe the oral Viagra tablet to ease PD, but research has shown that headache in this application is very common; common enough to spur more research on vaginal medication.

As for increased genital stimulation and as an aid for reaching orgasm, Viagra also shows promise. With Female Sexual Arousal Disorder and sexual dysfunction related to antidepressant use, sildenafil citrate appears to benefit women better than originally thought.

If you think Viagra might be what you’re looking for, talk with your doctor to find out more. She’ll want to assess your physical condition and determine whether it’s is safe for you.

You might just learn that the little blue pill so many men rely on for erection health belongs in your medicine cabinet, too.

eDrugstore.com sells the sildenafil medication, Viagra, at a competitive price. We offer the privacy and convenience of placing your order online, and your shipment arrives in discreet packaging, right at your door. If you’re ready to try an alternative, see what eDrugstore.com has to offer.

Don Amerman has spent more than three decades in the business of writing and editing. During the last 15 years, his focus has been on freelance writing. For almost all of his writing, He has done all of his own research, both online and off, including telephone and face-to-face interviews where possible. Don Amerman on Google+