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Female Viagra


Cure in a Pill?

Even so, drug companies — banking on the success of Viagra — hope to find its female equivalent. At the moment, they are focused on developing a drug that increases blood flow to the female genitals, resulting in vaginal lubrication and relaxing vaginal muscles.

The concept is similar to Viagra, which increases blood flow to the penis, resulting in an erection. So far, there are some promising drugs on the horizon. These include prostaglandin, already approved for men, apomorphine and phentolamine, both of which are being tested for arousal disorder in women.

Whether drug companies succeed, the good news is that women needn't wait for a sex pill. They have options. Research shows that exercise, counseling, vaginal lubrication products and sex videos all can help put spur a woman's libido.

What's more, the three following options — while scientifically unproven — are readily available and also hold the promise for improving a woman's sex life.

  • L-arginine amino acid cream The same amino acid that has been used by athletes to promote muscle development is purported to increase blood flow to the female genitals, thus sparking sexual urges. "Our informal studies on 500 patients showed that 70 percent of women who applied this cream to the clitoris and labia a half hour before sex reported more arousal and stronger orgasms," says Dr. Jed Kaminetsky, clinical assistant professor of urology at the New York School of Medicine.
  • DHEA Dehydroepiandrosterone is a male hormone produced by the adrenal gland and ovaries and converted to testosterone and estrogen. DHEA, which depletes with age, can be purchased over the counter in supplement form.In one small study published in the New England Journal of Medicine (Sept. 30, 1999), women who took 50 mg of DHEA daily noticed a significant increase in sexual interest. Other preliminary findings report encouraging results. However, most DHEA products lining the store shelves recommend taking only 25 mg per day. Because of its potential for heart attacks and breast cancer and masculating side-effects such as facial hair, DHEA is best used under a doctor's supervision.
  • Testosterone therapy For women who have undergone oophorectomy (the removal of one or both ovaries) and hysterectomy, testosterone treatment has shown to improve sexual function and psychological well being, according to recent research from Boston's Massachusetts General Hospital. However, women looking to boost testosterone levels should work with their physician closely so the hormone can be monitored. Too much of it can cause, among other things, facial hair and change a women's voice, which is irreversible. Meanwhile, a study looking at the combination of L-arginine glutamate and yohimbine — a natural extract from tree bark that excites part of the central nervous system — has shown that postmenopausal women were more than twice as aroused after taking the combination drug and viewing an erotic film than women who took a placebo.

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