I Am a Woman and I Took Viagra: Benefits and Side Effects – Healthline
Viagra is a brand name for a drug called sildenafil. It’s an oral medication approved to treat men with erectile dysfunction (ED).
The drug works by dilating blood vessels. With increased blood flow to the penis, it’s easier to get and sustain an erection. Viagra targets sexual performance, not sexual arousal.
There’s limited evidence that the drug is somewhat beneficial for women with sexual dysfunction.
It should be noted that sildenafil is also available as Revatio, available in 20 milligram (mg) doses (which is less than a Viagra dose). It’s used to treat pulmonary hypertension in both men and women.
This article, however, focuses on Viagra and sexual dysfunction in women. Read on as we explore Viagra use in women, whether it’s safe, and available alternatives.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved Viagra for use in women. But your doctor can prescribe it for off-label use.
Like all drugs, Viagra can cause side effects. It can also interact with other medications. That’s why it’s important to have a discussion with your doctor before taking Viagra.
Viagra is a phosphodiesterase type 5 (PDE5) inhibitor. PDE5 is an enzyme that affects blood flow.
We know that in men, Viagra dilates blood vessels and increases the flow of blood to the penis. Women who take it might also have increased blood flow to the genitals. That may help increase sensitivity, arousal, and orgasmic function.
Studies on its effectiveness in women have had mixed results.
It helps to understand that sexual dysfunction in women is a complex issue. Often, there are multiple contributing factors.
One thing that can suppress libido is the use of certain antidepressants, specifically:
A small, randomized controlled trial in 2008 involved women with depression who took these drugs and experienced sexual dysfunction. The study received funding by Pfizer, the maker of Viagra.
Results showed that Viagra may help reduce adverse sexual effects of SSRIs and SNRIs. The women who took Viagra reported better results than those who took a placebo.
There’s “inconsistent or limited-quality patient-oriented evidence” for this, according to a 2015 article authored by Mayo Clinic doctors.
A 2014 review article noted a study of postmenopausal women with sexual arousal disorder. Some study participants experienced improved arousal, vaginal lubrication, and orgasm. But that wasn’t the case for women whose sexual arousal disorder is linked to neurological or vascular problems.
A randomized clinical trial in 2002 compared sildenafil to placebo in pre- and post-menopausal women. They found no significant difference.
More research is needed to fully understand if women can expect any benefit from Viagra.
Viagra may cause blood pressure to drop, especially within a few hours of taking it. That can be a problem if you already have low blood pressure or take medicines that lower blood pressure.
While Viagra appears to be safe for most men, there’s little data on safety in women, particularly in the long term. In studies that have included women, it appears to be fairly well-tolerated. Side effects have included:
Viagra comes in 25-, 50-, and 100-milligram doses. Men are typically advised to start with the lowest dose, increasing it only if it doesn’t work. You take it 30 minutes to 4 hours before sexual activity. The maximum dose for men is 100 milligrams a day.
In studies on women, doses have generally ranged from 10 to 100 milligrams. The product label doesn’t include dosing information for women because it’s not intended for this use.
If you do plan on taking Viagra, consider the source. Some online sites that claim to sell Viagra are selling counterfeit drugs. These may not work like Viagra and may not be safe.
To access the real thing, you’ll need a prescription. A doctor will decide on the dose and provide safety information.
Viagra is an ED medication that improves blood flow to the penis. Viagra is a brand name and there’s no “Viagra for women.”
There are, however, a few FDA-approved medications to treat low sexual desire in women. One of these is Addyi. Because it’s a pink tablet and Viagra is a blue tablet, the nickname “female Viagra” was bound to happen. But these are different drugs with different missions.
Addyi is a brand name for a non-hormonal medication called flibanserin. The recommended dose is 100 milligrams. You take one pill every day at bedtime.
Another medication, Vyleesi, is a brand name for bremelanotide. You inject it under the skin on your abdomen or thigh about 45 minutes before you plan to have sex.
Both medications are approved to treat acquired, generalized sexual desire disorder in premenopausal women. Specifically, it’s for low sexual desire that causes distress, but is unrelated to:
Viagra is a sexual performance enhancer. Addyi and Vyleesi treat sexual desire, though the exact mechanism of action isn’t clear. They seem to affect certain pathways in the brain that influence sexual desire.
Side effects of Addyi include low blood pressure, fainting, and nausea. These effects can be intensified if you take birth control pills or drink alcohol.
Side effects of Vyleesi include temporary increase in blood pressure and decrease in heart rate. It can also cause nausea and isolated spots of skin lightening (focal hyperpigmentation).
Research suggests that Addyi and Vyleesi offer small benefits to premenopausal women with sexual arousal disorders.
Viagra is FDA-approved to treat ED in men. It’s not approved for use in women and studies thus far have had mixed results. There’s no “female Viagra,” but there are a couple of drugs approved to treat sexual dysfunction in certain women.
There are many reasons for low sex drive in women. Before taking Viagra or any other medication, discuss it with your doctor. Ask about potential benefits and side effects of these medications.
Last medically reviewed on March 15, 2021









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