A 47-year-old Cincinnati woman who uses Viagra regularly says that unlike with men, Viagra in women can cause a noticeable sensation when you take it. "I felt like there was a tingling in the pelvic area," she says. "I could almost feel the increase in blood flow. It felt like there was an increase in sensitivity."
The woman's doctor gave her Viagra after a hysterectomy made it nearly impossible to have an orgasm. She says Viagra has given her about 70% of her sexual function back. The level of orgasm "is not the same to what I had prior -- it's not as full," she says. "But it does make it easier."
Early studies of Viagra and women found it didn't work, but doctors say those studies weren't selective enough and included women with desire disorders who, like men with such problems, can't be helped by Viagra.
As with men, Viagra gets the blood flowing to the genitals in women. So for women who have difficulty achieving orgasm, vaginal dryness or a lack of sensation, arousal or engorgement, Viagra may help.
In a recent Pfizer-sponsored study of 200 women who either were postmenopausal or had undergone hysterectomies and who all suffered from some form of sexual arousal disorder, half were given Viagra and half were given a placebo. Researchers found that 57% of women taking Viagra reported improved sensation in the genital area, compared with 44% in the placebo group.
Even so, many researchers say sexual problems are far more complex in women than in men, and it's unlikely Viagra will ever work as well for women as for men.
In addition to helping you have sex, Viagra often gives you a headache, a stuffy nose and a flushed, beet-red face. But nobody who uses it seems to mind that much. In studies, only about 1% of people dropped out because of side effects -- exactly the same as those who used a placebo.
One bizarre side effect is visual disturbances, including a blue-green tinge to vision, which occurs about 3% of the time. In studies, about half of men who use Viagra experience at least one side effect, and the incidence is higher at higher doses. Among men taking 100 mg of Viagra in five different trials, 23% had headaches, 17% experienced a flushed face, and 12% had upset stomach. The side effects appear to be similar for women. Side effects tend to disappear with use, though one patient said he liked the headache Viagra gave him because he knew it meant he was ready.