Ever since the episode of Sex and the City where Samantha gets addicted to Viagra, women have been asking the question: could popping a little blue pill work for me, even though I’m not the target audience?
So in order to answer this question, we’ve got the inside track from MedExpress’s expert Dr Clare Morrison.
Firstly, what actually is viagra? Dr Clare explains: ‘Viagra is a drug licensed to help men with erectile dysfunction.
‘It contains the active ingredient Sildenafil which works by causing particular muscles in the body – the smooth muscles that surround blood vessels – to relax. When this happens, there is more space for the blood vessels to enlarge and allow more blood to pass through.
‘Blood flow to the penis is the final and most important step for an erection to occur.
‘When a man takes Viagra, the smooth muscles around the blood vessels in the penis relax and more blood passes through the penis. It doesn’t increase sexual desire; but simply increases blood flow to the penis for it to become erect.’
Given that the pill doesn’t actually boost sexual desire (a common misconception), there’s not a lot of point in a woman taking it.
‘Scientific research that has tested the effect of Viagra on women is not very promising,’ explains Dr Clare. ‘While the way the drug works to increase blood flow to the area is useful to increase the physical arousal of the body, the drug does not appear to have any effect whatsoever on sexual desire.’
Taking Viagra might not be helpful for women, but does it do any harm? According to Dr Clare, it might do.
She explains: ‘The same side effects can be experienced for both genders taking Viagra, some of which include headaches, indigestion, flushed skin, dizziness and diarrhea.
‘In more serious cases, this medication can cause a heart attack or stroke, the rarer and severe erection-related side effects won’t affect women, however.
‘There hasn’t been much scientific research about the negative effects of Viagra for women, for this reason, there may also be other gender-specific effects that target women more than men and the medium/long-term risks are unknown.
‘In both men and women, this medication can cause opposing effects when mixed with other erectile dysfunction medications, nitrate medications, and medications used to treat sexually transmitted diseases.’
So on balance it’s probably not worth popping one just to see what happens. A night of dizziness and diarrhea is bad enough, let alone a heart attack.
If you’re experiencing issues with sex as a woman, it’s not as simple as popping a pill. Firstly you should consider including lubricant in your sex life, as vaginal dryness can be a major cause of painful sex.
Additionally, you should try talking to your partner and discussing how and why you are struggling to enjoy sex. Sex therapy might be something to consider.
If more holistic methods aren’t working, Phizer (who make Viagra) also make a pill called Lovegra, which theoretically boosts sensitivity to the vagina.
You should talk to your doctor about starting new medications and should never take something that was prescribed for someone else.