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Viagra for Her

Erectile Dysfunction Drug Also Helps Women With Antidepressant-Related Sexual Problems

Viagra for Her: Study Results continued...

When Nurnberg's team looked at overall sexual functioning, they found that 73% of the women on placebo had no improvement in sexual functioning but only 28% of the women taking Viagra reported no improvement.

When they looked at the individual measures, they found women treated with Viagra were significantly more likely to reach orgasm than those in the placebo group. When they looked at the individual measures, such as desire or lubrication, they did not find significant differences.

There was a significant difference, Croft says, in the partner's satisfaction.

The higher a woman's testosterone levels, the researchers also found, the more likely a positive treatment response occurred, regardless of group assignment.

The women reported some side effects, with the most common being headache, reported by 43% of the women on Viagra and 27% of those on placebo. Transient vision disturbances were reported by 14% of those on Viagra and 2% of those on placebo. No one dropped out of the study because of their side effects. In those women who continued their dose of antidepressants, their depression didn't worsen during the study, regardless of their group assignment.

The study was supported by an independent grant from Pfizer, which makes Viagra. The grant was initiated by the researchers and the pharmaceutical company had no other role in the study, the researchers say.

The study, Croft says, ''is the first and only double-blind, randomized trial that shows it works for this.'' Viagra, he notes, is not approved by the FDA for use in women, so the use is ''off-label'' and not typically covered by insurance.

Viagra for Her: Second Opinion

Evaluating a woman's hormone levels before prescribing Viagra for sexual problems is important, says Goldstein, who is also a clinical professor of surgery at the University of California, San Diego. Normal testosterone levels, he says, are crucial for the successful effect of the drug.

"What Viagra does in women with normal testosterone [levels] is engorge their clitoris [with blood], which allows them to have orgasm," he tells WebMD. "Viagra acts on a man's penis and a woman's clitoris."

The finding that the drug did not affect desire or arousal comes as no surprise, either, he says. "Viagra has never been shown to increase desire in men or in women."

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