Viagra works for women too
New Orleans: Depression takes all the joy out of life, even the joy of sex. Fortunately for many people, many symptoms of depression diminish once they begin treatment with antidepressant drugs such as Prozac. But for many women, when the depression leaves the sexual dysfunction remains, says H. George Nurnberg, MD, professor of psychiatry at the University of New Mexico.
For these women, he says that Viagra can change their lives.
In fact, he tells WebMD that Viagra is just as good at reversing antidepressant-related sexual dysfunction in women as it is in reversing similar symptoms in men.
And he presented his evidence at the 51st annual clinical meeting of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
Nurnberg, who has already published a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association about the efficacy of Viagra in men who have sexual dysfunction associated with treatment for depression, says that 84% of women in his study had a return of sexual enjoyment after treatment with Viagra.
The study enrolled 42 women who had no history of sexual dysfunction before treatment for depression. All of the women were treated with one of the SSRI type of antidepressants such as Prozac or Zoloft, which often have sexual dysfunction as a side effect. All the women were “no longer depressed after being treated with those drugs for six to eight weeks,” he says. But all the women “reported sexual dysfunction related to the [SSRI] treatment.”
The women are randomly selected to take either Viagra or dummy pills for eight weeks. Neither the women nor the doctors knew which pills the women were getting.
Nurnberg and his colleagues assessed response using a standard psychiatric test designed to measure sexual function. The test, called the Clinical Global Impression-Sexual Function or CGI-SF, scores responses about arousal or sexual satisfaction, using a 1 to 7 rating system, with lower scores indicating better functioning. At the end of the study, “84% of women had a score of 2 or less,” he says. Moreover, he says that Viagra can be given at the same time as the antidepressant, which might make women “less likely to discontinue antidepressant treatment, which is a real problem since only about 20% of women are willing to stick with a full course of antidepressant therapy.” He says that often this reluctance to stay the course with treatment is related to the sexual dysfunction side effect.
Gerald F. Joseph Jr., MD, medical director of women’s services at St. John’s Health System in Springfield, Mo., tells WebMD that Nurnberg’s results are interesting but he is not entirely sold on Viagra. He says, for example, that “placebo effect is very powerful in studies of sexual dysfunction, and I’m not sure these findings are not really just a placebo effect.”
Joseph, who wasn’t involved in the study, says that as a surgeon he thinks the only way that Viagra could work in women is if the women have sexual dysfunction that is “associated with an abnormality in the erectile tissue present in the genitals. Otherwise, it just doesn’t make sense.” —WebMD