What Happens If a Woman Takes Viagra?

One of the most popular medications worldwide is Viagra ® . This “the little blue pill” has been around for almost 25 years and has crossed into pop culture. Just about everyone has heard of Viagra, even those that don’t use it.

While it’s very clearly one of the most effective treatments for erectile dysfunction , what would happen if a woman were to try it?

What Is Viagra?

Viagra is prescription medication manufactured by the pharmaceutical company Pfizer in order to treat the symptoms of erectile dysfunction. The active ingredient of Viagra is the drug sildenafil .

Originally thought to be a potential treatment for hypertension (high blood pressure) and angina (severe chest pain), sildenafil produced unexpected results in regards to erections. After years of clinical trials and research, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Viagra as the world’s first oral medication for erectile dysfunction. Viagra would hit the market in 1998 and become one of the most popular drugs worldwide.

When the patent of Viagra expired roughly 15 years later, several other pharmaceutical companies began to manufacture a generic version of Viagra using sildenafil.

How Does Viagra Work?

Sildenafil is the active ingredient of Viagra and is part of a classification of drugs known as phosphodiesterase type 5 (PDE5) inhibitors. Sildenafil, along with other medications such as tadalafil and vardenafil, works by dilating the blood vessels and relaxing smooth muscles in the penis.

By performing these tasks, the amount of blood flowing into the penis will increase and the amount of blood that flows out of it will decrease, resulting in an erection.

It’s important to note that taking a PDE5 inhibitor will not automatically result in an erection. When a man encounters sexual stimulation, he will become aroused and the brain will release certain chemicals that will expand the blood vessels located in the pelvic region. The most important of these chemicals is called nitric oxide. PDE5 inhibitors more or less piggyback on the effects of nitric oxide and enhance their effects.

For this reason, erectile dysfunction that is the result of emotional or psychological issues such as depression, anxiety, or stress might not be effectively treated by PDE5 inhibitors.

What Would Happen If a Woman Were To Take Viagra?

As of yet, there doesn’t seem to be much research into the effects that Viagra would have on a woman. It’s entirely possible that the effects would largely be negligible, but they would possibly have a few potential benefits.

For women, nitric oxide has a similar effect that it does on men. By regulating blood flow, nitric oxide can improve both the sexual function and orgasms of women. In order for a woman to experience an orgasm, there is a certain amount of vaginal and labial pressure required. These pressure levels are controlled by elevated levels of blood flowing into the clitioris.

While there have been no studies to confirm the effects, it’s plausible that Viagra could increase the overall blood flow to female genitalia, leading to an increase in sensitivity, arousal, and likelihood of achieving orgasm.

Why Would a Woman Need Viagra?

Obviously, women can not experience erectile dysfunction, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t experience issues relating to sexual health and function.

For women, the term is female sexual dysfunction (FSD) and it is a very common problem. While there has been much less research into female sexual dysfunction compared to erectile dysfunction, there have been several conclusions made about it.

A study review of 95 studies into female sexual dysfunction found that just under 41 percent of the premenopausal women experienced some form of it. However, some estimates have the number as high as 63 percent of women.

Unlike erectile dysfunction, which is largely measured by strength and duration of an erection, female sexual dysfunction can have a much wider variety of symptoms that are different for each woman.

One study of 400 women experiencing female sexual dysfunction was focused on the exact issues that they faced. The results were as follows:

  • 181 women (45.3%) experienced a lack of sexual desire
  • 150 women (37.5%) experienced a lack of arousal
  • 165 women (41.2%) experienced a lack of lubrication
  • 168 women (42%) experienced an inability to achieve orgasm
  • 178 women (44.5%) experienced a lack of sexual satisfaction
  • 170 women (42.5%) experienced an excessive amount of pain

Can Viagra Treat FSD?

Viagra helps men to maintain erections by improving the blood flow into the penis. While it’s possible for an increase of blood flow to the genitalia to help treat some of the symptoms related to female sexual dysfunction, there are no definitive results to suggest that Viagra would work.

The FDA has only approved Viagra as a potential treatment for erectile dysfunction and only recommends it to be used as such.

However, that doesn’t mean that it wouldn’t have some potential benefits for women. During one study performed over the course of 12 weeks, 202 postmenopausal women experiencing female sexual dysfunction were given Viagra. Some women were given Viagra doses that ranged between 25, 50, and 100 milligrams while others were given a placebo.

The women that were given the Viagra experienced an overall increase in their genital sensations and an increase in sexual satisfaction with intercourse and/or foreplay.

Are There Side Effects If a Woman Were To Take Viagra?

Clinical trials and research into the side effects of Viagra were, naturally, performed almost exclusively on men. So, it’s unclear as to what side effects, if any, a woman would experience if she took Viagra, especially in the long term.

There is no reason to suggest that the side effects would be much different than those that a man may experience. Some of the common side effects most associated with Viagra include:

  • Flushing in the body or face
  • Indigestion, abdominal cramps, and diarrhea
  • Headache or migraine
  • Nasal congestion or runny nose
  • Heart palpitations and shortness of breath
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Visual changes such as blurry vision or blueish tint

In addition to these possible side effects, Viagra can have a negative interaction with other medications, especially those used to treat high blood pressure. Mixing Viagra with nitrates especially is potentially very dangerous and can lead to a significant drop in blood pressure.

What Women Can Use Instead of Viagra

For women experiencing female sexual dysfunction, there are many less treatments available than for a man experiencing erectile dysfunction. Part of the reason is that the sexual process for a female is much more complicated than it is for a man. There is a much larger and more complex chemical chain reaction required for a women to have satisfactory sex then for a man.

That being said, there are a few treatments available for female sexual dysfunction, although their effectiveness might vary. Some of these treatments include:

Flibanserin

The drug known as flibanserin , the popular brand name being Addyi, hit the market in 2015 and was largely advertised as “female Viagra.” However, it largely failed to meet expectations and was rather underwhelming. Despite not reaching the popularity or effectiveness of Viagra, flibanserin is probably still a better treatment than using the PDE5 inhibitor.

For women, the brain is a much more important sexual organ and most of the sexual response of a woman will start in her brain. Flibanserin primarily focuses on three important chemicals in the brain: dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin.

Flibanserin works by raising dopamine and norepinephrine, while lowering serotonin. This should result in an increase in sexual excitement and desire. Typically the recommended dosage is 100 milligrams taken before bed every night.

Hormone Replacement Therapy

Another potential treatment option is to restore estrogen levels to a more optimal and healthy range by undergoing hormone replacement therapy . The medications are available as a topical cream, oral medication, skin patch, spray, vaginal tablet, or vaginal ring.

Normally, this treatment will involve taking estrogen daily with progestogen every two weeks. This treatment is typically reserved for postmenopausal women as a way to replace estrogen levels that are lowered during the process of menopause. However, it can sometimes be used as an “off label” treatment for female sexual dysfunction.

The Takeaway: It’s largely unclear what exactly would happen if a woman were to take Viagra. While it could improve the blood flow to the genitalia, it largely doesn’t appear to be an effective treatment for female sexual dysfunction.

Viagra is arguably the most popular treatment for erectile dysfunction. The annual sale of Viagra often reaches into the hundreds of millions of dollars, even historically breaking into the billions a few times. Selling so much of it clearly indicates it’s overall effectiveness and popularity amongst men. While this treatment can help to restore the erectile functions in men, it doesn’t appear to have a similar effect on women.

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Disclaimer : This article is for information only and should not be considered medical advice. Always speak with your doctor about your health and the benefits or risks of any treatment or intervention. This information should not be relied on as a substitute for professional medical advice.