Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Viagra Works!

The findings in a new study on Viagra might seem obvious -- the sexual satisfaction of couples involving a male with erectile dysfunction improved significantly when the man took Viagra. The novelty is that researchers cared what the woman thought.

Sex research involving pharmaceutical treatments, unlike treatments involving therapy, often is limited to effects only on the person taking the medication. One should not assume, however, that partners like or dislike a change in sexual functioning.

"The nice thing about this study is that it reminds us that when people engage in a treatment, even taking a pill, it doesn't stop at the edge of their skin. It can, and often does, affect others," said Julia Heiman, lead author of the study and director of The Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender and Reproduction. "In this study, changes in one partner were correlated with changes in another. If one partner improved than so did the other."

Here are some of the key findings:

* For the men with erectile problems, the younger they were, the more their sexual satisfaction improved with the use of Viagra.
* For women, those who were generally satisfied in their overall relationship but dissatisfied with their sexual relationship reported greater sexual satisfaction when their partner used Viagra.
* The women whose partners took Viagra reported a significant improvement in their sexual satisfaction and in their arousal and orgasms.
* Men in the Viagra group showed significant improvement/changes in erectile functioning, intercourse satisfaction, overall sexual satisfaction and frequency of intercourse satisfaction. Their orgasm function did not increase significantly.

"We are always interested in the health effects of sexuality, and the motivations for seeking treatment," said Heiman, whose research over the years has examined the development and impact of different sexual treatments on individuals and couples. "Maybe it's the partner's response that is most important in predicting long-term treatment gains as well as general health gains. It would be worthwhile knowing that."

The study, funded by Pfizer, Inc., involved 176 couples in which the male had erectile dysfunction and the female expressed dissatisfaction with their sex life. The male partner in each couple was randomly assigned to either receive Viagra or placebo for 12 weeks, at the end of which 79 Viagra and 76 placebo group couples actually finished the entire study. The mean age for men was 58, with ages ranging from 30 to 86. Most of the women were postmenopausal, with ages ranging from 20 to 79 and an average age of 58.

The study, "Sexual function and satisfaction in heterosexual couples when men are administered sildenafil citrate (Viagra) for erectile dysfunction: a multicentre, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial," appears in the journal BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology. The article is available online at: http://www.blackwell-synergy.com/doi/full/10.1111/j.1471-0528.2006.01228.x.

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