Viagra May Bring Relief to Women Who Have Menstrual Cramps

Viagra may treat Menstrual Cramps


The popular drug, Viagra, according to a new study, may prove useful to bring relief to women who have menstrual cramps. This dual purpose will likely make these little blue pills as popular with women as they are with men, but for very different reasons.

The researchers who wrote the study, which was published in the August issue of Human Reproduction, discovered that Viagra’s main ingredient, sildenafil citrate, which treats erectile dysfunction in men, can also be beneficial in treating moderate to sever menstrual cramping.

According to one of the study’s authors, Richard Legro, who is a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Penn State College of Medicine, sildenafil citrate works by dilating blood vessels. He believes that the drug “can be an effective treatment for acute menstrual pain.”

What causes menstrual cramps and how can Viagra alleviate them?

Primary dysmenorrhea is the painful cramping that many women experience in their pelvic region at the beginning of their period. An excess production of the lipid compound prostaglandins causes women to experience cramps. This compound causes muscles to relax and contract.

In their study, the researchers write that an excess of prostaglandins are behind the sometimes extremely painful uterine contractions women feel.

According to a hypothesis that Legro and his fellow researchers came up with, Viagra — really, the main ingredient in it, sildenafil citrate — helps alleviate menstrual cramps by dilating the blood vessels around the uterus. The increased amount of blood flow that results takes the excess pain-producing prostaglandins with it.

Legro and his fellow researchers tested out their theory with a small group of 25 women in Croatia. They were 18-35, and all experienced painful menstrual cramps. The women were split into two groups. One group got a placebo, while the other group was administered sildenafil citrate vaginally.

Both groups were asked to rate their scale of pain over four hours. Both groups experienced a great deal of pain relief, though the group which received the sildenafil citrate were more likely to say that their cramps disappeared throughout the four hours. The group who received the placebo experienced pain relief, according to the researchers, because it’s well known that in many such studies, placebos have been known to provide some relief from pain.

One thing that the researchers noticed was that the women in both groups experienced increased blood flow. The increased blood flow, alone, they theorized, must not be the complete reason as to why the sildenafil citrate performed better at alleviating pain than the placebo.

While further research and more studies are needed, the study suggests that Viagra administered vaginally is an effective method of lessening the pain of menstrual cramps.

Some women take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, like ibuprofen, to alleviate the pain from menstrual cramps. A problem with ibuprofen, though, is that not all women can take it. Another drawback with taking it too frequently is that it can cause kidney damage and ulcers.

Legro and his associates have plans to do other studies to find out if it makes any difference if the Viagra is taken orally or administered vaginally, to discover if taking it might disrupt the regular menstrual cycle, and to learn if the treatment is effective over a time span of multiple menstrual cycles. Taking Viagra orally, though, has been linked in some studies to side effects like headaches. Legro and his team have submitted a grant to continue their promising research.

Written by: Douglas Cobb

LATimes.com
CBSNews.com
HNGN.com
Human Reproduction

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