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Viagra for Her

Erectile Dysfunction Drug Also Helps Women With Antidepressant-Related Sexual Problems
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July 22, 2008 -- Viagra, often prescribed to help men's erectile dysfunction, also helps women who experience sexual problems from antidepressant use, according to a new study.

Sexual dysfunction is a well-known side effect of some antidepressants, with up to 70% of men and women on antidepressants reporting sexual problems. It's a major reason depressed patients stop taking their medication, according to H. George Nurnberg, MD, the study's lead author and a professor at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine in Albuquerque. The study is published in TheJournal of the American Medical Association.

In the study, Nurnberg and his colleagues found that when women being treated with an antidepressant were given Viagra, they were more likely to have orgasms than those on the placebo.

''Seventy-two percent of the women on Viagra vs. 27% of the women on placebo got to 'much improved' or 'very much improved' on a scale [of sexual functioning],'' says Harry A. Croft, MD, medical director of the San Antonio Psychiatric Research Center in Texas and a co-author on the study.

''What Viagra did was increase the orgasm and the time to orgasm," says Croft, noting that orgasm difficulties are common in women on antidepressants. The Viagra also improved the satisfaction of the partner, he says. But ''it didn't increase drive and desire.''

The findings are no surprise to Irwin Goldstein, MD, director of sexual medicine at Alvarado Hospital in San Diego and editor-in-chief of The Journal of Sexual Medicine. "I actually prescribe a lot of Viagra for women," says Goldstein, who reviewed the study for WebMD.

Viagra for Her: Study Details

The researchers evaluated 98 women on antidepressants, average age 37 and all premenopausal, assigning half to the Viagra group and half to the placebo group for the eight-week study. Viagra doses started at 50 milligrams a day, taken one or two hours before expected sexual activity, and could be increased to 100 milligrams. No one knew which pill they were taking.

On average, the women had been taking antidepressants for two years and had suffered sexual problems for at least four weeks.

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