Can Women Take Viagra? (2024)

Reviewed by Dr Bhavini Shah

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

In this article, we look at Viagra and women. Firstly, how Viagra isn’t suitable for women, and it’s only licensed for men. As well as what help might be available for women experiencing sexual difficulties.

Can Women Take Viagra? (1)

Sexual dysfunction in women

Some women don't find sex pleasurable. For some, the thought of having sex causes distress. At some point in your life, this could happen especially if you're feeling stressed or just had a baby.

But if you’re finding sex is more of a chore than a pleasure, these feelings have been going on for a long time or it’s affecting your relationship you could be experiencing female sexual dysfunction (FSD). But 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.” - Dr Bhavini Shah

What is FSD?

FSD (female sexual disfunction) refers to being unhappy with your sex life. FSD affects around 40% of women. You may experience a loss of libido, sex is uncomfortable even painful or you’re struggling to org*sm. The term FSD is usually used when these problems have been going on for six months or more. Some women with FSD say that their sex lives have always been unsatisfying and 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 like menopause, 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

Depending on your own personal situation FSD could be made of any of these symptoms. It could be a combination of some of them or all of them. Common symptoms of FSD include:

Low sex drive

This is also known as low libido. This means that you havelittle or no desire for sex and you may not respond to sexual stimulation. You could have reduced erotic thoughts or fantasies and no interest in masturbation.

Problems with org*sm

You may find that you don’t or can’t org*sm. You could be unable to org*sm even with ongoing stimulation and arousal. You may also find your org*sms are delayed or the intensity of your org*sms is reduced.

Pain during sex

This is when women find it painful to have sex. You may experience pain during vagin*l penetration, your pelvic floor muscles may tighten preventing penetration when you try. Many women experience fear or anxiety of the pain before, during or after penetrative sex.

What are the treatments for FSD?

“FSD may not 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.” -Dr Bhavini Shah

To find the reasons for sexual dysfunction you may need to look at physical, psychological and relationship factors.

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 org*sm or do you experience pain when having sex?

Being clear about what the issues are will help talking to your GP. Around 4 in 10 women experience FSD so you’re not alone and treatments are available.

Treatments for FSD include:

  • Lifestyle changes such as losing weight or stopping smoking
  • Improving your fitness
  • Speaking to a counsellor or therapist
  • Seeking couples’ counselling
  • Reducing the amount of alcohol you drink
  • Pelvic floor exercises
  • Changing medication e.g. antidepressant can cause loss of sex drive
  • Changing hormonal contraceptives
  • Changing how you have sex to focus on non-penetrative sex
  • Hormone replacement therapy (HRT)

Does Viagra work for women?

It's thought (or hoped) by some, that Viagra may increase sexual pleasure in women.

In women it’s thought that Viagra could increase blood flow to the female genital area, increasing lubrication and aiding org*sm. 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 has been shown to be ineffective in women who have sexual difficulties.

What does Viagra do to women?

We know that Viagra works in men 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.

Taking Viagra could be risky:

  • It can lower blood pressure which may be an issue if you already have low blood pressure
  • It can cause side effects such as headaches
  • It can interact with other medicines

"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." - Dr Bhavini Shah

Types of Viagra for women

If you’re looking for Viagra options for women to help treat female sexual dysfunction or low sex drive, you may have heard about female Viagra.

Female Viagra isn’t really a thing the UK, as there aren’t any approved medical treatments for women. Over in the US and other parts of the world there are treatments such as Flibanserin. When searching for female Viagra you may also spot herbal products with impressive claims. However, these aren’t proven to be effective or safe.

Flibanserin

Flbanserin is licensed in the USA for the treatment of female sexual dysfunction. It’s been called 'women's Viagra' but this is very misleading as it acts on the brain (while Viagra acts directly on the blood flow to the penis).

Flibanserin was developed as an anti-depressant, and 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
  • Fatigue

Is Flibanserin available in the UK?

No Flibanserin is not available in the UK mainly because of the risks of side effects. In the US it’s sold under the brand name Addyi.

Lady Era

Lady Era is a drug aimed at women that claims to treat low sex drive. It contains the same active ingredient as Viagra - sildenafil.

Sildenafil works in men by increasing blood flow to the penis helping men achieve and keep an erection. Lady Era may also increase blood flow to women’s genitals which is thought to improve arousal. However, studies into the effect of sildenafil in women are limited. Products that contain sildenafil will only be safe for women to use if your doctor has prescribed it.

Lady Era side effects

Lady Era may cause many of the same side effects in women as sildenafil does in men. These can include; headache, facial flushing, nausea, dizziness and stuffy nose. Sildenafil can also react with other medications and isn’t safe for people to use if they have heart problems.

Is Lady Era available in the UK?

No Lady Era is not available in the UK. For medication approved in the UK, it must undergo stringent testing to make sure it’s safe and works.

Conclusion

If you’re experiencing problems with your sex life such as low sex drive or inability to org*sm, you may think female Viagra could help. However, it’s always best to speak to your GP. They can help with treatment options and advice.

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/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3008577/
https://patient.info/sexual-health
https://www.nhsinform.scot/illnesses-and-conditions/sexual-and-reproductive/loss-of-libido/

Can Women Take Viagra? (2024)
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