What Happens If a Woman Takes Viagra?

Young couple in bed

Viagra doesn’t treat female sexual dysfunction. That’s why women taking Viagra don’t see much improvement in sex drive, sexual interest or physical arousal. Tara Moore/Getty Images

Remember how Viagra works? It dilates blood vessels and increases blood flow. Sure, it engorges the penis and, researchers presumed, may also increase blood flow to the female genitalia and stimulate sexual arousal.

This hypothesis was put to the test in 2003 by researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles, urology department. They studied the effects of sildenafil on postmenopausal women experiencing a lack of sexual interest and willingness to be sexual, a condition known as female sexual arousal disorder (FSAD), which falls under the umbrella term “female sexual dysfunction,” or FSD.

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Interestingly enough, researchers found that Viagra helped women in a couple of ways. For instance, the women reported increased genital sensation and increased satisfaction during intercourse and stimulation. However, the women also reported some mild side effects, including headache, flushing, rhinitis and nausea.

Since the 2003 study, however, few other studies have been designed to examine the effects of women taking Viagra. The research shows conflicting results but is nowhere near as effective for improving sex drive in women as it is for improving erectile dysfunction. As such, the FDA has not approved Viagra for women.

As we mentioned, women given Viagra during clinical trials reported some of the same mild side effects as men. But Viagra is also associated with more serious side effects, which can also affect women. These include low blood pressure, allergic reaction, sudden vision loss, sudden hearing loss or ringing in the ears, and dizziness, as well as cardiovascular problems such as chest pain, heart attack, heart failure and stroke.

In fact, in 2000, research was presented at the 49th Annual Scientific Session of the American College of Cardiology that suggested 522 patients died while taking the drug during its first year on the market. Viagra can also interact adversely with several medications. For example, Viagra can cause dangerously low blood pressure if taken with nitrates or alpha blockers.

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