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Viagra Improves Sex for Some Women

Blue Pill Helps Some Postmenopausal Women With Physical Sex Problems
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WebMD Health News

Jan. 7, 2004 -- Viagra can do wonders for men. But a new study shows it also improves sex for some postmenopausal women.

The findings come from a research team led by sexual-function gurus Jennifer R. Berman, MD, and Laura A. Berman, PhD. The placebo-controlled study, funded by Viagra maker Pfizer Inc., evaluated 202 postmenopausal women diagnosed with female sexual arousal disorder (FSAD). This disorder is defined as distress from an inability to attain or maintain sexual excitement.

Half the women were treated with Viagra; the other half got inactive placebo pills. Many of the women who got the placebo reported improved genital sensation. Some even reported more sexual satisfaction. But both of these improvements were much more common among women who took Viagra.

The little blue pill didn't work for women who, in addition to FSAD, also had something called hypoactive sexual desire disorder or HSDD. While many women with FSAD have difficulties with genital blood flow -- suggesting a physical problem that Viagra can help -- women with HSDD may be more likely to have an underlying emotional or relationship problem leading to lack of sexual desire.

"Unresolved emotional or relational issues should be addressed before beginning medical therapies," Berman and colleagues stress. Their report appears in the December 2003 issue of The Journal of Urology.

Viagra, Genital Sensation, and Sexual Satisfaction

Women were included in the study if they were postmenopausal or if they had a hysterectomy. Their ages ranged from 30 to 71 with an average age of about 51.

The Berman team focused on the women's answers to two questions after taking Viagra or placebo:

  • After taking the study medication, the sensation/feeling in my genital (vagina, labia, clitoris) area during intercourse or stimulation seemed to be: (a) more than before, (b) less than before, or (c) unchanged.
  • After taking the study medication, intercourse and/or foreplay was (a) pleasant and satisfying; better than before taking the study medication; (b) unpleasant; worse than before the study medication; (c) unchanged; no difference; or (d) pleasant but still not like it used to be or I would like it to be.

Among placebo recipients, 44% reported improvement in the first question and 28% reported improvement in the second question.

Among all Viagra recipients, 57% reported improvement in the first question and 42% reported improvement in the second question.

But among Viagra recipients with sexual arousal disorder who did not have HSDD, the results were more striking: 69% reported improvement in the first question. This group was eight times more likely to report improvement than women without HSDD who got placebo.

Similarly, among Viagra recipients with sexual arousal disorder who did not have HSDD 50% reported improvement in the second question. This group was 11 times more likely to report improvement than non-HSDD women who got placebo.

The authors note that women who respond to Viagra may need to have normal levels of estrogen and testosterone. For many postmenopausal women, that may mean menopausal replacement therapy. In the present study, the women had normal hormone levels or were receiving menopausal replacement therapy.

SOURCE: Berman, J.R. The Journal of Urology, December 2003; vol 170: pp 2333-2338.

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