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    Can women take viagra?

    On this page
    1. Sexual dysfunction in women
    2. Female sexual dysfunction symptoms
    3. What are the treatments for FSD?
    4. Does Viagra work for women?
    5. What does Viagra do to women?
    6. Viagra for women - Flibanserin?

    Viagra is a well-known drug for treating erectile dysfunction in men but what about the effect of Viagra in women? 

    It’s important to point out that Viagra is not suitable for women and is only licensed for use in men. But in this article we’re going to look at Viagra and women, and what help might be available for women who experience sexual difficulties.

    Sexual dysfunction in women

    Some women don't find pleasure in sex. For some just the thought of having sex is causing distress. At some point or another this might probably happen to everyone, but if it's going on for a long time and it's causing distress or unhappiness for yourself or in your relationship, it could be that you are experiencing female sexual dysfunction (FSD). But simply not being in the mood for a while doesn't mean you have FSD. 

    Many women have problems with sex at some stage in their life and for most this is temporary. In most cases relationship difficulties, partner issues or life stresses can be contributing.

    The term FSD is usually used when you have these problems for six months or more and it is causing distress. Some women with FSD say that their sex lives have always been unsatisfying enough to cause them unhappiness or distress. Whereas for others, FSD can be triggered by illness, life experiences (during pregnancy, after having a baby, stress), hormonal changes, medication side-effects, cancer treatment, chronic illness or depression. It can also 'sneak up on you' for no apparent or obvious reason.

    Female sexual dysfunction symptoms

    FSD may occur in every situation (and with every partner), or only in some situations or with some partners. It may resolve by itself, or it may need help. To identify the reasons behind sexual dysfunction, you have to think about physical and psychological factors and also relationships. 

    Common symptoms of FSD are listed below. Depending on the woman, FSD could be any of these symptoms, a combination of some of them or all of them:

    Low sex drive

    This is also known as low libido, it means that you have little or no desire for sex even after stimulation.

    Problems with orgasm

    This means not being able to reach an orgasm even with ongoing stimulation and arousal. 

    Pain during sex

    This is when women find it painful to have sex. 

    What are the treatments for FSD?

    If you think you might have FSD, try and identify the aspects of sex that are difficult for you and/or are causing distress in your relationship. Is it a lack of libido? Do you find it difficult to orgasm or do you experience pain when having sex? Being clear about what the issues are will help talking to your GP. They  who may suggest some tests, change in medication or support a referral  to a counsellor or therapist.

    Does Viagra work for women?

    It's thought (or hoped) by some, that Viagra may increase sexual pleasure in women. We know that Viagra works in men by increasing the blood flow to the penis. In women it’s thought that Viagra could increase blood flow to the female genital area, increasing lubrication and aiding orgasm. This theory has led to research into women taking Viagra. Many of these studies have focused on the treatment of FSD. However, the medical trials to date have failed to produce significant evidence that Viagra works for women.

    What does Viagra do to women?

    Viagra works by increasing the blood flow to the penis which is important for male sexual function. In the female body increased blood flow to the genitals is not that crucial: it is only one of the factors that contributes to a good sexual experience. Viagra has been shown to be ineffective in women who have sexual difficulties.

    Viagra can have side effects and it can interact with other medicines, so it may not actually be safe to take. 

    It's worth pointing out that Viagra does NOT increase sex drive or desire: in other words if you are not interested in sex, taking Viagra won't make any difference.

    Viagra for women - Flibanserin?

    You may have heard of Flibanserin in the media. This medicine is licensed in the USA for the treatment of female sexual dysfunction, although this has been controversial. It has been called 'women's Viagra' but this is very misleading as it actually acts on the brain (while Viagra acts directly on the blood flow to the penis).

    Flibanserin was developed as an anti-depressant and it's related to the SSRI family of anti-depressants. It can help improve libido. It is licensed for pre-monocausal women who have no other physical reason for low libido, such as a medication side effect, a chronic illness or cancer treatment. 

    Flibanserin side effects

    The evidence for its effectiveness is not strong and points to, if anything, only a small increase in sexual activity in women taking Flibanserin. Side effects of Flibanserin include dizziness, fainting, drowsiness, nausea and fatigue, and cannot be taken with alcohol or grapefruit juice.

    Is Flibanserin available in the UK?

    No Flibanserin (sold under the brand name Addyi in the US) is not available in the UK. 

    If you'd like more advice on sexual health or women's health, visit our advice hubs. 

    References

    https://www.cosrt.org.uk/factsheets/
    https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/female-sexual-dysfunction/symptoms-causes/syc-20372549
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4232035/

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