What Happens If... Women Take Viagra?

NB: It's far from advised.
Phiromya Intawongpan via Getty Images

Nowadays, Viagra is somewhat of a household name, known primarily for helping people with penises maintain an erection.

Viagra is one of many brand names which uses the drug sildenafil, and can be offered on prescription or over the counter as an oral medication.

It is known for temporarily increasing blood flow to the penis when already aroused.

It’s not full-proof – you need to wait a certain amount of time before trying to have sex (30-60 minutes), take the correct dose and be sexually excited for it to work properly, although you can take it up to four hours before you want to have sex.

Notably, it does not increase sex drive or desire just the physical erection.

It’s not the only medication to treat erectile dysfunction but it is arguably the most well-known one.

But, what if you don’t have a penis? What happens then?

Well – bearing in mind that Viagra is not suitable for women and only licensed for use in men – experts are not convinced that it will do anything to enhance women’s sexual performance.

The NHS website says: “Women can take sildenafil for pulmonary hypertension.”

That is a benefit noted among men too. The drug works by decreasing high blood pressure in the vessels around the lungs and increasing blood supply, and reducing strain on your heart.

But, it adds: “There’s no good evidence that sildenafil works for women with sexual problems.”

The NHS also says the pill does not affect any type of contraception, and does not reduce fertility in either women or men.

Lloyds Pharmacy also debunks the theory that Viagra increases blood flow to the female genitals, increasing lubrication and helping orgasm, by pointing out that medical trials have not come up with any conclusive evidence to back this up.

The pharmacy also points out that it can have side effects and interact with other medicines, so may not be safe to take.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has also not approved Viagra for women’s use.

While US website Healthline did point out that some women who struggle with sexual arousal did benefit from taking the pill in some medical studies, those whose issue with sexual arousal is linked to neurological or vascular problems did not.

As the site explains, there are many, complicated reasons for low sex drive in women.

There’s also little data looking into how safe it actually is for women to take Viagra in the long-term. Some side effects from early research suggest they might suffer from headache, nasal congestion, flushing, visual disturbances, indigestion and palpitations.

It’s therefore important to speak to your doctor before taking any if you’re a woman.

There is no “Viagra for women”, although other medications meant to treat low female sexual desire have been given the nickname, such as Flibanserin.

Dr Zenon Andreou, from Superdrug’s Online Doctor, emphasises: “Viagra use in women has never properly been studies.

“Therefore it is unknown whether it is safe or even if it has any benefits for women.”