The Independent Pharmacy

What Happens if a Woman Takes Viagra?

Andy Boysan
Andy BoysanBPharmDirector & Superintendent Pharmacist

Reviewed on 7 Jun 2023

Probably one of the most widely-known drugs in the world, Viagra (often referred to as the ‘little blue pill’) is typically the first recommended treatment for erectile dysfunction, a condition which may affect up to 1 in 5 men in the UK.

Viagra Tablets (25mg, 50mg & 100mg)
Viagra Tablets (25mg, 50mg & 100mg)
View Treatment

Erectile dysfunction (ED for short) is particularly common in older men, and it’s characterised by an inability to achieve or maintain an erection for sexual intercourse. The causes may be physical or psychological, but either way ED can severely impact self-esteem and lead to relationship issues.

But of course, it’s not just men that can experience sex-related problems — in fact, it’s thought that almost half of UK women experience poor sexual and reproductive health, suffering with issues such as pain during sex, an inability to reach orgasm, and a lack of libido.

Viagra is widely thought of as a ‘male’ drug, but can women suffering with sexual issues take it too? What happens if they do? And is there a female Viagra equivalent? Let’s delve a little deeper into these questions.

Can women take Viagra?

Viagra is licensed in the UK to treat men suffering with erectile dysfunction (ED), but it isn’t licensed for use by women. It’s not proven to have any positive impact on sexual function in women, and more importantly, it may not be safe for women to take since it may cause serious side effects.

Research on the use of Viagra in women is limited, with the effects of taking the drug not well-established. It is not recommended that you take Viagra as a woman, then: instead, you should consult a healthcare professional to seek safe, medically-approved alternatives for improving sexual function.

Does Viagra work on women?

While there have been some studies and clinical trials investigating the use of Viagra in women — particularly in the treatment of female sexual arousal disorder (FSAD) and hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD) — the results have been very mixed. There is no conclusive evidence to suggest that Viagra works for women.

In men, Viagra works by increasing blood flow to the penis. It’s been speculated that it may have a similar effect on women, increasing blood flow to the female genital area, aiding lubrication and helping women to achieve orgasm. However, no studies have confirmed this, and in any case, increasing blood flow to the genitals is not the be-all-and-end-all when it comes to female sexual function.

It’s also important to point out that even in men, Viagra does not increase sexual desire; to achieve an erection when taking Viagra, a man still needs to become aroused through stimulation. It will not have any impact on libido or ignite a renewed interest in sex, so it would have no effect on a woman suffering from a lack of sex drive.

What happens if women take Viagra?

The effects of Viagra on women are not well-known, as research in this area is understandably very limited — the drug was specifically developed to target physiological processes related to male sexual function, so there’s little reason to assume it will work for women. It’s likely to be ineffective and, worse still, potentially unsafe.

While it’s likely to have little to no impact on a woman’s sexual experience, it’s also important to consider that taking Viagra could possibly have severe consequences for a woman — especially as the effects of taking it are so poorly known. As a result, the drug is generally not considered safe for a woman to take.

If a woman were to take Viagra, the following may happen:

  • It may introduce side effects. Common side effects of Viagra in men include headaches, flushing, nasal congestion, and dizziness, while more severe (yet very rare) side effects may include heart attacks and serious skin reactions. It’s possible that women may experience similar side effects if they take Viagra, although the likelihood and severity may vary. It’s also possible that women may experience different side effects altogether.
  • Hormones may be affected. Viagra could potentially have indirect effects on hormonal balance in women, as it may influence blood flow and vascular function. However, the specific consequences and long-term effects of such hormonal changes, if any, are not well-understood.
  • It may interact with other drugs. Viagra can interact with certain medications, such as nitrates or alpha-blockers, leading to potentially serious health complications. It is not known how Viagra might interact with medications such as hormone replacement therapy (HRT) or hormonal contraception.
  • It may simply be unsafe. Since Viagra has not been extensively studied in women, the long-term safety implications and potential risks associated with its use in females are not fully known. Viagra is not licensed for use by women, and using any drug that has not been prescribed or reviewed by a medical professional is potentially very dangerous.

It’s essential to consult with a healthcare professional before considering any off-label use of medications, including Viagra or any other erectile dysfunction treatments.

I am a woman and I took viagra – what should I do?

If you’ve taken Viagra — either accidentally or intentionally — there’s no reason to panic. The likelihood is it’ll have little to no effect at all. If you’re concerned about the possible effect of taking viagra as a woman, however, you should consult a healthcare professional such as your doctor, pharmacist or nurse practitioner as soon as possible.

It’s also important to monitor for any adverse effects or reactions, such as blurred vision, dizziness, light sensitivity, skin rash, an increased heart rate, or anything else abnormal. Keep an eye out for any unusual symptoms or side effects, and if any severe or concerning symptoms develop, seek immediate medical attention.

Is there a “female Viagra”?

While there are many products that claim to boost sex drive in women — including herbal supplements — there’s no direct Viagra equivalent to treat sexual dysfunction in women. The drug known as ‘Lady Era’ (which contains sildenafil, the same active ingredient in Viagra) claims to improve sexual function, but there’s no evidence to support these claims and it’s not approved for use in the UK.

Another drug called Flibanserin (sold under the brand name Addyi) claims to increase sexual arousal by altering the chemicals in the brain. While it is licensed in the US, however, it’s not currently available in the UK. Research suggests that its effectiveness is limited, while women taking Flibanserin may be at risk of potentially serious side effects.

For perimenopausal or postmenopausal women who have suffered a drop in libido, testosterone therapy may help to increase sex drive and improve sexual function. Testosterone-based treatments such as Testim Gel are available in the UK, and may be prescribed to women aged 45 and over. You can buy Testim Gel from The Independent Pharmacy following an online consultation.

Tips for improving sexual function in women

If you’re a woman and you’re experiencing any form of sexual dysfunction, you should discuss potential treatment options with your doctor. If you’d rather not speak to your GP about such an intimate issue, however, you can visit a dedicated sexual health clinic.

Improving sexual function and sex drive in women can involve a combination of medical and lifestyle approaches. Ways to help improve sexual function include:

  • Address underlying medical conditions. Certain medical conditions, such as hormonal imbalances, thyroid disorders, diabetes, or depression, can affect sexual function and libido in women. Managing and treating these conditions under the guidance of a healthcare professional may help improve sexual health.
  • Be honest with your partner. Open and honest communication with your partner about your desires, needs, and concerns can enhance intimacy and sexual satisfaction, and also help to uncover any underlying relationship issues that may be impacting your desire for sex.
  • Explore therapy. Sexual therapy or counselling with a qualified professional can help to address psychological factors that may be contributing to sexual dysfunction. Therapy can help uncover underlying issues, improve body image, enhance self-esteem, and provide advice to improve sexual satisfaction.
  • Maintain a healthy lifestyle. Adopting healthy lifestyle habits can have a positive impact on sexual function and libido. This can include exercising regularly, eating a balanced diet, getting good quality sleep, and managing stress.
  • Seek professional advice. Consulting a healthcare professional, such as a gynaecologist or sexual health specialist, can help identify any underlying medical conditions, assess hormonal balance, and recommend appropriate treatments or therapies.

In conclusion, Viagra is not recommended as a suitable, effective, or indeed safe treatment option for women suffering with any kind of sexual dysfunction. There’s a reason it’s not licensed for use by women, after all. If you’re suffering from sex-related issues such as a low libido or a lack of pleasure from sex, speak to a professional about possible treatment options rather than taking a risk on unlicensed medication.

Related Guides

Understanding Erectile Dysfunction Treatments for Individuals with Heart Problems

Daniel Hurley
Written by Daniel Hurley

Need something else?

We stock 1035 treatments for 89 conditions

Or browse all treatments or conditions

A customer at the pharmacist looking for medication