Viagra and Menstrual Cramps

February 10th, 2014  |  The Blog

Menstrual cramps are a fact of life for many women. It is no fun to have these mild to sometimes debilitating lower abdominal cramps every month from puberty through menopause.

Dysmenorrhea or painful menstrual cramps account for 600 million lost work hours every year in the U.S.

There is a potential new treatment for menstrual cramps on the horizon. Everyone has heard of the little blue pill, right? Well, Viagra started out as an anti-hypertensive or high blood pressure medication. Then, it became a popular treatment for erectile dysfunction (ED). And now, it is a potential treatment for primary dysmenorrhea (PD) or moderate to severe menstrual cramps.

Standard Treatments for Primary Dysmenorrhea

There are current and standard treatments suggested for the usual monthly menstrual pain that some women experience. The most common treatments include:

Ibuprofen, an over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug, is the first-line pain medication for menstrual cramps. With frequent and prolonged use, ibuprofen does have potential side effects including gastric ulcers and kidney damage. A hormone called prostaglandin affects menstrual cramps; ibuprofen has anti-prostaglandin properties so helps alleviate cramps.

Oral contraception or the birth control pill, which is a prescription drug regulated by a primary care physician or OB/GYN specialist, is a common and effective treatment choice. By regulating the menstrual cycle, associated cramps are often improved.

Promising New Treatment

Viagra or sildenafil citrate is most commonly prescribed for erectile dysfunction. Sildenafil is actually the active ingredient in the brand name Viagra medication. This drug is the promising hope to treat primary dysmenorrhea.

The Study

Interestingly, there was an earlier study in which oral Viagra was used. The oral administration of the drug was found to increase pelvic pain, in some cases, and also cause a common side effect, headaches. Given these results, the new study uses vaginal suppositories to deliver the Viagra not pills.

The vaginal delivery is effective because the drug is intended to deliver local relief to the uterus. It also carries very few, if any, side effects.

The U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) conducted the new study. Women, 18 to 35 years old, with moderate to severe menstrual cramps or primary dysmenorrhea (PD) were involved in the study. The results showed that a 100 mg vaginal suppository of sildenafil citrate was nearly twice more effective in relieving pain than a placebo over a 4-hour period.

How it Works

Viagra causes the blood vessels in the pelvis to dilate, which increases the blood flow to the uterus. This, in turn, increases the oxygen to the pelvic tissue and relieves menstrual cramp pain.

There were no complaints about side effects with the vaginal suppository delivery of the drug.

Availability of the Drug

There is still work to be done and more comprehensive studies to be completed before Viagra is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat primary dysmenorrhea. There is a promising outcome on the horizon. Stay tuned.

 

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