Viagra May Still Be Mostly A Guy Thing

Viagra's got a pretty solid record when it comes to performance in men. But will it work for women, too? Some swear by it, and a small pilot study of women has found that the drug can boost sexual response significantly. But the reality for big populations may be less promising. NEWSWEEK has learned that in the first large-scale clinical trial involving women, Viagra does not appear to work miracles. Dr. Raymond Rosen, a Pfizer consultant, told researchers at a medical conference at Boston University last month that the data is "not going to show broad or robust effects" in females. Later, Rosen told NEWSWEEK his comments were based on informal feedback from investigators. Pfizer wouldn't comment on the trial results, which they plan to release at a scientific meeting next year.

Pfizer's study included 800 pre- and postmenopausal women in Europe who suffered from sexual dysfunction, which can mean anything from lack of libido to difficulties with arousal or orgasm. Future studies could refine the trial by excluding women whose problems stem from emotional or relationship issues (not exactly fixable with a pill) and targeting women who have specific physiological conditions. Rosen, codirector of the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School's Center for Sexual and Marital Health, says researchers are already studying Viagra in women with spinal-cord injuries, diabetes and uterine cancer. Anecdotal evidence suggests that women who've had hysterectomies or are on certain antidepressants (which can dampen sexual response) may also benefit. Viagra could still offer hope for women eventually--just not as obviously as it does for men.

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