Viagra for Women

Does Viagra work for women, and is it safe?

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Medically reviewed by: Dr Kathryn Basford

Last reviewed: 25 Jun 2019

Woman interested in female Viagra holding a camera talking to a man with a bicycle

Key takeaways

  • Viagra and other products containing the active ingredient sildenafil citrate are not used to treat female sexual dysfunction (FSD)

  • There’s no medication licensed for women in the UK with low sex drive

  • Women may experience the same side effects from using Viagra as men

Contents of this article

What is Viagra?

Viagra and non-prescription Viagra Connect are treatments for erectile dysfunction. They contain the active ingredient sildenafil citrate. Although Viagra is the most popular treatment in the UK, there are also many other similar types and brands of erectile dysfunction medication.

Viagra works by allowing more blood to flow to the penis, which helps get and keep erections.

Viagra is not licensed for use by women in the UK. Some companies sell tablets containing sildenafil citrate for women but these are not licensed to be used in the UK.

What is female sexual dysfunction (FSD)?

Women cannot have erectile dysfunction, which applies only to men, but they may experience female sexual dysfunction (FSD).

This is a condition that includes at least one of the following:

  • Not being interested in or wanting to have sex
  • Not having orgasms
  • Experiencing pain during sex

There’s been less research done into FSD than erectile dysfunction. The causes and treatment of the condition are still being looked into. Experiencing FSD has led many women to consider taking Viagra.

Does Viagra work for women?

Studies into whether Viagra works for women have had mixed results. In studies on women who did not have much interest in sex, Viagra helped some women but not others. Other studies found that Viagra can help some women who have particular physical difficulties with sex.

FSD is the collective name for a range of problems that are caused by lots of different factors. This means there could be many different reasons why a woman is experiencing FSD. Viagra works by allowing the blood to flow more easily to certain parts of the body. This may help some women with FSD, but it’s likely to be only a small number of cases.

What effect does Viagra have on women?

There have not been enough studies on women taking Viagra to be sure of its positive effects. Some studies have shown that for some women, by allowing blood to flow more easily to the vulva and the surrounding area, the drug can increase pleasure in sex.

Viagra also has a number of side effects which can affect women in the same way as men. These include:

  • headaches
  • hot flushes
  • stuffy nose
  • feeling dizzy or fainting
  • blurred sight
  • feeling sick (nausea)

Is it safe for women to take Viagra?

It’s only safe for anyone to take Viagra if it’s been prescribed by a doctor. Viagra is not licensed for women to use in the UK and so this medication would not be prescribed for women.

What is female Viagra?

Female Viagra is a term that’s used by different people to mean different things. The 3 most common things it refers to are:

  • a 'female' version of male Viagra with the same active ingredient, sildenafil citrate. This is not licensed for use in the UK
  • a medication called flibanserin which has the brand name Addyi. This is also not licensed for use in the UK
  • herbal or plant-based tablets

At the moment, there’s no licensed medication equivalent to Viagra for use by women. There’s no proof that herbal or plant-based tablets help in treating FSD.

What can I do if I have FSD?

FSD can be caused by a number of different reasons, so it’s a good idea to discuss the problem with a doctor or nurse.

There’s no medication licensed for use in the UK specifically for FSD.

Some women find that making changes to their lifestyle, like avoiding stress, drinking less alcohol, and getting more sleep, can help.

For other women, FSD is more connected to how they’re feeling. In these cases, therapy or antidepressants have helped increase interest in sex.

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Medically reviewed by:
Dr Kathryn Basford

Dr Kathryn Basford is a qualified GP who works as a GP in London, as well as with Zava. She graduated from the University of Manchester and completed her GP training through Whipps Cross Hospital in London.

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Last reviewed: 25 Jun 2019

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