I am female and took Viagra: benefits and side effects

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Viagra is the brand name for a drug called sildenafil. It is an oral medication approved to treat men with erectile dysfunction (ED).

The medicine works by dilating the blood vessels. With increased blood flow to the penis, it is easier to get and maintain an erection. Viagra targets sexual performance, not sexual arousal.

There is limited evidence that the drug is of any benefit to women with sexual dysfunction.

It should be noted that sildenafil is also available in the form of Revatio, available in doses of 20 milligrams (mg) (which is lower than a dose of Viagra). It is used to treat pulmonary hypertension in men and women.

This article, however, focuses on Viagra and sexual dysfunction in women. Read on as we explore the use of Viagra in women, if it is safe and the alternatives available.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved Viagra for use in women. But your doctor can prescribe it for off-label use.

Like all medicines, Viagra can cause side effects. It can also interact with other drugs. This is why it is important to have a discussion with your doctor before taking Viagra.

Viagra is a phosphodiesterase type 5 (PDE5) inhibitor. PDE5 is an enzyme that affects blood flow.

Potential benefits

We know that in men Viagra dilates blood vessels and increases blood flow to the penis. Women who take it might also have increased blood flow to the genitals. It can help increase sensitivity, arousal, and orgasmic function.

Studies on its effectiveness in women have had mixed results.

It helps to understand that sexual dysfunction in women is a complex problem. Often there are several contributing factors.

One thing that can suppress libido is the use of certain antidepressants, in particular:

A small randomized control trial in 2008 involved women with depression who were taking these drugs and had sexual dysfunction. The study received funding from Pfizer, the maker of Viagra.

The results showed that Viagra can help reduce the unwanted sexual effects of SSRIs and SNRIs. Women who took Viagra reported better results than those who took a placebo.

There is “inconsistent or limited-quality patient-focused evidence” for this, according to a 2015 article written by doctors at the Mayo Clinic.

A review of 2014 item noted a study of postmenopausal women with arousal disorders. Some study participants experienced improvement in arousal, vaginal lubrication, and orgasm. But this was not the case for women whose sexual arousal disorder is linked to neurological or vascular problems.

A randomized clinic trial in 2002 compared sildenafil to placebo in pre- and post-menopausal women. They found no significant difference.

More research is needed to fully understand whether women can expect any benefit from Viagra.

Side effects

Viagra can cause a drop in blood pressure, especially within hours of taking it. This can be a problem if you already have low blood pressure or if you are taking medicines that lower blood pressure.

Although Viagra appears to be safe for most men, there is little data on safety in women, especially over the long term. In studies that have included women, it appears to be fairly well tolerated. Side effects included:

  • headache
  • nasal congestion
  • rinsing
  • visual disturbances
  • indigestion
  • palpitations

Viagra is available in doses of 25, 50, and 100 milligrams. Men are generally advised to start with the lowest dose, increasing it only if that doesn’t work. You take it 30 minutes to 4 hours before sexual activity. The maximum dose for men is 100 milligrams per day.

In studies on women, the doses generally ranged from 10 to 100 milligrams. The product label does not include dosage information for women as it is not intended for this use.

If you are considering taking Viagra, consider the source. Some online sites that claim to sell Viagra sell counterfeit drugs. These may not work like Viagra and may not be safe.

To access the real thing, you will need a prescription. A doctor will decide the dose and provide safety information.

Viagra is an erectile dysfunction drug that improves blood flow to the penis. Viagra is a brand name and there is no “Viagra for women”.

There are, however, a few drugs approved by the FDA to treat low sexual desire in women. One of them is Addyi. Because it’s a pink pill and Viagra is a blue pill, the nickname “Female Viagra” had to come up. But they are different drugs with different missions.

Addyi is a brand name for a non-hormonal drug called flibanserin. The recommended dose is 100 milligrams. You take one tablet a day at bedtime.

Another drug, Vyleesi, is a brand name for bremelanotide. You inject it under the skin of your abdomen or thigh about 45 minutes before you have sex.

Both drugs are approved to treat acquired and generalized sexual desire disorder in premenopausal women. Specifically, it is for low sexual desire which causes distress, but is not related to:

  • a health or mental health problem
  • relationship problems
  • other drug use

Viagra is a sexual performance enhancer. Addyi and Vyleesi deal with sexual desire, although the exact mechanism of action is not clear. They appear to affect certain pathways in the brain that influence sexual desire.

Side effects of Addyi include low blood pressure, fainting, and nausea. These effects may be intensified if you take birth control pills or drink alcohol.

Side effects of Vyleesi include a temporary increase in blood pressure and a decrease in heart rate. It can also cause nausea and isolated lightening patches of the skin (focal hyperpigmentation).

Research suggests that Addyi and Vyleesi offer little benefits to premenopausal women with arousal disorders.

Viagra is approved by the FDA to treat erectile dysfunction in men. It is not approved for use in women and studies so far have had mixed results. There is no such thing as “Female Viagra”, but there are some drugs approved to treat sexual dysfunction in some women.

There are many reasons for low libido in women. Before taking Viagra or any other medication, discuss it with your doctor. Learn about the potential benefits and side effects of these drugs.

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