Can Viagra Help Women?

A small and preliminary study has found that Viagra appears to enhance female sexual arousal, reports CBS News Health Correspondent Dr. Emily Senay.

While Viagra has been very successful as a treatment for men with impotence, 12 million prescriptions have been written for it since it was introduced last year.

In the study, about 20 women who were post-menopausal or had hysterectomies were put on either Viagra or a dummy pill. As with men, the women taking Viagra had increased blood flow to the genital area and experienced increased sexual arousal.

But sexual dysfunction in women is more complicated than in men. There is a greater psychological aspect to sex problems in women, mostly experienced as a lack of sexual desire as well.

A recent survey found that 4 out of 10 women have sexual problems, more than men, which the survey found was 3 in 10. But it is much harder to detect and study sexual problems in women.

The research is still in its early stages and may not result in a women's drug for several years. Pfizer, the maker of Viagra, has completed some studies on women in Europe which haven't been published yet.

While studies on Viagra and women are going on in the United States, no clinical trials have begun. Such trials would be necessary to get approval of the drug's use by women.

There are concerns that Viagra may not be safe for women of childbearing age, that it might cause fertility problems or birth defects in their children.

Apomorphine, under the name Uprima, is awaiting approval from the Food and Drug Administration, but only for use by men. Another drug, Vasomax, originally was designed as a blood pressure medication, but is a couple of years away from approval as a potential sexual dysfunction drug.

Reported By Dr. Emily Senay
  • CBSNews.com staff CBSNews.com staff

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