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

Answers from Jacqueline M. Thielen, M.D.

Given the success of drugs to treat erectile dysfunction, such as sildenafil (Viagra), tadalafil (Cialis) and vardenafil (Levitra), drug 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 drugs for treating sexual arousal problems in women. Yet 40 percent of women report having sexual concerns.

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, medications, 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.

With

Jacqueline M. Thielen, M.D.

May. 08, 2014 See more Expert Answers