Mayo Clinic Health Library

Question

Viagra for women: Why doesn't it exist?

Why isn't there an equivalent of Viagra for women?

Updated: 04-01-2011

Answer

Given the success of drugs to treat erectile dysfunction, such as sildenafil (Viagra), tadalafil (Cialis) and vardenafil (Levitra), pharmaceutical companies have sought a comparable drug for women. Viagra has even been tried as a treatment for sexual dysfunction in women. However, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved this use of Viagra. Indeed, there are no FDA-approved medications for treating sexual arousal problems in women.

Female sexual response is complex. For most women, simply addressing difficulties with arousal may not get to the actual problem — which is often a lack of sexual desire. Many factors can influence a woman's sexual desire. For example:

  • Many women find that the stresses of daily life deplete their desire for sex.
  • Highs and lows in sexual desire may coincide with the beginning or end of a relationship or major life changes, such as pregnancy or menopause.
  • For some women, orgasm can be elusive — causing concerns or preoccupations that lead to a loss of interest in sex.
  • Desire is often connected to a woman's sense of intimacy with her partner, as well her past experiences. Over time, psychological troubles can contribute to biological problems and vice versa.
  • Some chronic conditions, such as diabetes or multiple sclerosis, can alter a woman's sexual-response cycle — causing changes in arousal or orgasmic response.

If you're experiencing changes or difficulties with sexual function, consult your doctor. In some cases, hormones, creams, clitoral-stimulating products or other treatments may be helpful. These products don't work for everyone, however. Your doctor may also recommend consulting a sex therapist.

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