up SearchFeedback[help] CPMCnet

R E S E A R C H  R E P O R T S

Viagra Offers Women Little Benefit

Lead researcher: Steven A. Kaplan

In the first evaluation of the effects of Viagra (sildenafil) on women, P&S investigators found that, unlike in men, the drug offers little relief of sexual dysfunction.

The results of the study, published in the March 1999 issue of Urology, examined the safety and efficacy of Viagra in 33 postmenopausal women with self-described sexual dysfunction that had lasted at least six months. Each of the study participants took 50 mg of Viagra (the same dose prescribed for men) approximately one hour before planned sexual activity but not more than once daily. All of the women were in stable, monogamous relationships with male partners. Thirty women completed the study, and the mean use of Viagra was about three times per week.

"We found that there was no significant change either in intercourse satisfaction or in the degree of sexual desire after the patients had taken Viagra for 12 weeks," says Steven A. Kaplan, the Given Foundation Professor of Urology. "Even though about 25 percent of the patients had some improvement in overall sexual function, that’s equal to the placebo response in men receiving Viagra."

Therapy effectiveness was evaluated at four, eight, and 12 weeks using a newly developed nine-item self-administered Index of Female Sexual Function to measure overall satisfaction with sexual function, orgasm, lubrication, and clitoral sensation, as well as degree of lubrication and clitoral sensation, and ability to achieve orgasm. Women were asked to also assess whether treatment improved overall sexual function. Blood pressure was measured at each assessment visit, and patients were questioned about any adverse reactions to Viagra.

The Index of Female Sexual Function is patterned after the International Index of Erectile Function, a self-administered questionnaire used to assess erectile dysfunction in men. Researchers have no validated, widely accepted assessment tool for sexual function in women.

Overall, only 21 percent of patients had a significant response (greater than 60 percent improvement in the index). Although the study shows little to support the use of Viagra for postmenopausal women with sexual dysfunction, Dr. Kaplan cautions that only a small number of women were evaluated and the follow-up was relatively short. In addition, the entry criteria were completely subjective. "Our study does, however, point out the need for a validated instrument to assess efficacy and sexual function in women, as there is for men. Larger, long-term studies in both post- and premenopausal women that look at different dosages and combinations with other drugs are necessary to fully assess Viagra’s safety and efficacy regarding female sexual dysfunction," says Dr. Kaplan.

Return to Table of Contents