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    Can women take viagra?

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      When a woman is unhappy with her sex life, it is known as female sexual dysfunction (FSD).  FSD is not an illness, although it is a condition that can cause great distress. Many women have problems with sex at some stage in their life.  FSD can affect around one-third of young and middle-aged women, and around half of older women.

      Signs of FSD

      • Low sex drive
      • Problems with orgasm
      • Pain during sex

      It could be a combination of all or some of these signs. The term FSD is usually used when the problems a woman experiences this for six months or more. Some women with FSD say that their sex lives have always been unsatisfying enough to cause them unhappiness or distress. Whereas for others, iFSD can be triggered by illness, life experiences (during pregnancy, after having a baby, stress), with ageing or for no apparent reason.

      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, physical and psychological factors should be considered, including a woman's relationship with her partner.

      Can Viagra treat FSD?

      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. 

      There is anecdotal evidence 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.

      Viagra will not increase a woman’s sex drive or sexual desire. Low sex drive is a significant symptom of FSD. As there has never been a large enough medical trial to investigate the effect of Viagra in women, the authorities cannot say that Viagra is safe for women nor comment if Viagra really is effective in women.

      What about 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 boosts sexual desire by balancing chemicals in the brain.  It encourages sexual excitement and reduces feelings of inhibition.

      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, drowsiness, nausea and fatigue, and cannot be taken with alcohol or grapefruit juice.

      What are the treatments for FSD?

      If you’re experiencing FSD, it’s worth seeing your GP to rule out any physiological causes. They may be able to refer you on to a specialist in women’s sexual health, a therapist who can help identify psychological factors, or indeed a relationship counsellor.

      The Sexual Advice Association has information readily available if you want to do some research beforehand.

      If there is something else that’s bothering you, perhaps you think you might have an STI or you’re concerned about contraception, visit our STI and contraception clinics for advice and treatment options.

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