April 28, 2003 -- A new study has found that the impotence drug Viagra could ramp up the sex lives of women who take it, just as it has done for men.
The 12-week study focused on 202 post-menopausal or post-hysterectomy women who complained of female sexual arousal disorder. The women in the group who took Sildenafil — the little blue pill commonly known as Viagra — took notes after each sexual experience, and reported better overall sexual satisfaction compared with those who took a placebo.
Their enhanced sex lives included better arousal, lubrication and orgasm.
The study was conducted by Laura Berman, director of the Berman Center and a professor of OB-GYN and psychiatry at Northwestern University in Chicago, and Dr. Jennifer Berman, director of the Female Sexual Medicine Center at UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles. The researchers say that the results are preliminary.
"In terms of ability to achieve orgasm, there was a statistically significant movement," Laura Berman said on ABCNEWS' Good Morning America.
"It increases blood flow to the genital area, increases the sensation of warmth, tingling and fullness," she said.
More than 50 million women experience some type of sexual dysfunction.
Jennifer Berman said it's important for women to remember that this pill can't overcome mental and emotional barriers to a satisfying sex life.
"At this point, we can say that women with significant emotional or relationship problems and women that have desire problems related to their interest in being sexual might not be the best candidates," Jennifer Berman said. "It's for women who were satisfied with their sexual response at one point and now, for whatever medical reason, are no longer able to respond," she said.
Increased Blood Flow Theory
Women who suffer from female sexual arousal disorder can experience a variety of symptoms, including lack of "excitement," vaginal dryness, loss of sensation and sensitivity in the genitals and nipples and low blood flow to the genitals. Women in the study were screened to make sure that psychological or relationship issues were not the cause of the problem.
Since Viagra enhances sexual arousal in men by increasing the blood flow to the penis, the Bermans theorized that the drug could have a similar effect on women, increasing the blood flow to the female genitals and thereby producing better arousal, sensation and lubrication in the genital area.
Women in the study were given doses of 50 milligrams, which was increased to 100 milligrams only once during the study based on how well the lower dose was working, and the women's tolerance to it. The pill was to be taken prior to sexual activity but no more than once daily.
Each patient had to engage in sexual activity at least once a week and keep a personal log about it. During the course of the study, neither the patients nor the doctors knew which patients were receiving the Viagra. Women taking Viagra reported mild to moderate side effects, including headache, flushing, nausea, and vision symptoms — the same side effects reported by men who take the drug.