Daily Health

Can Women Take Viagra? What Happens When A Woman Takes Viagra?

Struggling with a decreased sex drive can affect your self-esteem and mental wellbeing and could even begin causing issues within your relationship. If you’re a woman looking for a solution, you might find yourself wondering what will happen if you take Viagra.

First of all, know that you’re not alone. According to a 2014 study, up to 45% of women experience some sort of sexual dysfunction at least once in their lives. This could mean anything from difficulty becoming aroused or reaching orgasm to a prolonged disinterest in sex. 

Viagra may seem like an obvious solution, given that it has been effective in treating erectile dysfunction in men, but unfortunately, the path forward isn’t quite that simple for women.

Viagra hasn’t been proven to improve a woman’s sex drive, nor has the FDA approved it for use by women. But don’t lose hope because there are drugs out there that have been formulated to help women experiencing a decreased sexual appetite. 

Below, we’ll dig into how Viagra works, what happens when a woman takes Viagra, and other methods you turn to if you’re struggling with low sexual desire. 

What is Viagra, and how does it work?

Viagra is a prescription medication used to treat erectile dysfunction (ED). The active drug in Viagra is sildenafil, a phosphodiesterase type 5 (PDE5) inhibitor that improves dilation within the blood vessels of the penis, making it easier to achieve and sustain an erection. 

Pfizer originally developed Viagra to dilate blood vessels in the heart, relieving high blood pressure and chest pain. The fact that the medication worked better at facilitating erections was just a happy accident!  

Can a woman take Viagra?

Before taking a Viagra pill, keep in mind that the drug is not an FDA-approved medication for women. This is because research indicates that sildenafil doesn’t really improve a woman’s sexual experience. 

While taking Viagra isn’t necessarily harmful to women (though adverse side effects are a possibility), taking the pill probably won’t increase your sex drive or help you enjoy the act any more than you would without it. 

What happens when a woman takes Viagra?

Even though Viagra doesn’t necessarily increase a woman’s sexual pleasure, a 2014 study indicated that the medication increases blood flow to a woman’s genitals. This leads to swelling of the clitoris and increased lubrication of the labia, both signs of physical arousal. 

While Viagra may help women become more physically aroused, it doesn’t increase their sex drive. If you happen to be struggling with low libido, there are likely better solutions to pursue. 

What is low libido?

Your libido is your sex drive. In other words, it’s your desire to engage in sexual activity. Low libido is a lack of interest in sex. 

A woman’s sex drive is very nuanced. All kinds of factors may contribute to low libido in women, including medications, alcohol consumption, drug use, hormonal changes, or even simply fatigue. Mental health can also play a role in a person’s libido; someone who is stressed or depressed may experience a lower sex drive. 

Women who have a low libido over a prolonged period (say, several months) might be experiencing a condition called Female Sexual Interest/Arousal Disorder (FSIAD), formerly known as Female Sexual Arousal Disorder or Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder.

Does Viagra work for low libido in women?

Viagra may help increase physical arousal in women by promoting blood flow in the genitals and making the clitoris more sensitive to touch. Unfortunately, a 2002 study examining sildenafil use in a group of women diagnosed with Female Sexual Interest/Arousal Disorder (FSIAD) indicated that the medication didn’t improve their sexual desire. 

These findings are somewhat unsurprising because Viagra doesn’t treat a man’s sex drive either. The little blue pills help men get hard and maintain an erection, but men who use Viagra probably already have a healthy libido and simply need a bit of a boost. In other words, Viagra helps men with the physical aspect of sex, not the mental side. 

Are female and male Viagra the same?

It’s tempting to fall back on the term “female Viagra,” but it’s important to remember that the little blue pills were formulated specifically for men. There are medications that were developed to treat sexual desire in women, but they do not work the same way as Viagra.

There are currently two medications available that treat low libido in women, and they each work differently than Viagra. 

  • Flibanserin - Sold under the brand name Addyi, this was the first FDA-approved treatment for Female Sexual Interest/Arousal Disorder. 
  • Bremelanotide - Approved in 2019 to treat female sexual dysfunction. It is sold under the brand name. 

Instead of stimulating physical arousal the way Viagra does, these medications increase sex drive in women by targetting brain chemicals. It’s worth noting that these medications have been formulated and deemed effective for women who haven’t yet reached menopause. 

How long does it take for female Viagra to work?

Viagra-like medication for women works at different rates depending on which one you use.

The recommended dosage of flibanserin, the active ingredient in the Addyi medication, is 100mg daily at bedtime for an 8-week treatment period.

Vyleesi, with the active ingredient bremelanotide, is given through a self-administered injection and should be used a minimum of 45 minutes before having sex. Like the Viagra pill, which men can take up to 4-hours before sexual activity, Vylessi is relatively fast-acting. However, according to the medication guidelines, women shouldn’t use Vyleesi more than eight times per month. 

Is it safe for a woman to take Viagra?

Every individual’s body is different, so you should speak to your doctor before taking Viagra or any other Viagra-like medication. 

Viagra isn’t intended for use by women, and you may experience negative side effects if you take the little blue pill against medical advice.

What are the potential side effects?

Studies on the effects of Viagra use on women have shown several side effects, including: 

  • Headache
  • Flushing
  • Nausea
  • Visual disturbance
  • Inflammation of the eyes, ears, or throat (rhinitis)
  • Upset stomach

If you’re considering taking Viagra, speak to your doctor to ensure you understand the potential side effects as they may vary. If you are taking other medications, your doctor will help you anticipate any potential reactions. 

Are there any natural alternatives to Viagra for women?

A woman’s sex drive can be affected by all kinds of factors, from mental health and physical wellbeing to stress, fatigue, and more. While this could make nailing down the cause of your low libido tricky, it also means that there are many Viagra alternatives you can pursue instead of (or in addition to) Viagra-like medications.

Here are a few treatments that may help: 

  • Speaking with a therapist: It’s no secret that our mental health can affect us in unexpected ways. Taking the time to talk with a therapist about what’s weighing on you could relieve enough stress or anxiety to help your libido improve. You may not even need to open up about your struggles with sexual desire directly if you’re not comfortable doing so. 
  • See a sex therapist: Psychologists who offer sex therapy use techniques like cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT), emotion-based therapy, and couples communication to help their patients overcome sexual problems. 
  • Exercise: Exercise offers many positive health benefits, including improved physical health. When you exercise, your brain releases powerful endorphins that make you feel happy. If you stick to a regular fitness routine, you could see a boost in your overall mental health and, subsequently, your self-esteem and sex drive.

These are just a few potential ways you might be able to treat female sexual dysfunction without using medication, but there are endless options. If you’re concerned about your lack of sex drive, the first thing to do is contact your doctor. A healthy sex life can be important for your overall wellbeing, so don’t be afraid to advocate for yourself.

Viagra for women FAQs

Can I give my wife Viagra?

You should never give anyone a drug to anyone without their consent. If your spouse is interested in using Viagra, she should discuss it with her doctor first to ensure it’s safe.

How do you use female Viagra?

While the Viagra drug, sildenafil, has not been approved for women, the term “female Viagra” is frequently used to refer to other medications that treat female arousal. Addyi (flibanserin) and Vyleesi (bremelanotide) are two medications formulated to treat low libido in premenopausal women. 

What does Viagra do to a girl?

Viagra may increase the blood flow to a woman’s genitals resulting in symptoms of physical sexual arousal. 

What happens if Viagra is taken by a woman?

A woman who takes Viagra may experience some increased stimulation and sensitivity in her genitals.

Women who are struggling with low libido may be tempted to take Viagra, but it’s not a proven option for increasing sex drive in women.

Viagra may help increase vaginal lubrication but it won’t increase a woman’s sexual desire. For a more effective solution for low sex drive, look into drugs like bremelanotide and flibanserin which have been formulated especially for women. 

For more information on taking Viagra, speak to a healthcare practitioner at Felix.

WRITTEN BY
Felix Team
Updated on:
November 2, 2022
Medically reviewed by
Dr. Sarah Lasuta
Family Physician, MD, CCFP
Disclaimer

The views expressed here are those of the author and, as with the rest of the content on Health Guide, are not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any medical questions or concerns, please talk to your healthcare practitioner.

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