Bonus of the little blue pill

Sunday, 22 December 2013 - 11:41am IST | Agency: DNA
According to a recent study, viagra could help women to treat period pain without the side-effects. We spoke to experts to check the same.

Who would have thought that viagra, also known as the little blue pill, traditionally used to help men with performance problems in the bedroom, could well be used by women to treat period pain? Sound bizarre, right? Well according to a recent health study, viagra pills are as good as pain killers, without the side-effects. And this is because it boosted blood flow to the pelvic region, they say. Read more to find out about the study.

The study
In this new study, researchers from the Penn State College of Medicine, US, say one of the most popular treatments, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen, don’t work well for all women. Used often, as by women who frequently suffer period pain, they can also cause stomach ulcers and kidney damage.

The researchers’ study involved 25 women aged between 18 to 35, who suffered from moderate to severe period pain. Some received the viagra, whereas the others received a placebo. The subjects  rated their pain over four consecutive hours and reported that the viagra pessary (a vaginal pessary is a removable device placed into the vagina) relieved pain, with no side effects.

Richard Legro, professor of obstetrics and gynaecology said, "If future studies confirm these findings, sildenafil (viagra) may become a treatment option for patients." He added that since period pain is a condition that most women suffer from and seek treatment for at some points in their lives, "the quest for new medication is justified."

Previous research has found that the drug can help alleviate pelvic pain in men, too. Up to 50 per cent of men suffer pelvic pain, causing discomfort around the lower back and groin. Viagra appeared to help by dilating blood vessels in the pelvic area and boosting blood flow, according to a trial at Washington University.

Expert speak
Dr Nandita Palshetkar, consultant gynaecologist, Lilavati Hospital, says that the study which has been reported looks promising, as viagra helps by improving blood supply. Also, the vaginal preparation has no systemic side effects. Has she ever treated a patient for menstrual pain using this method? “No, I have not treated as the vaginal preparation was not available. The use of viagra for menstrual pain will be an off-label use. However, until it is proved by more trials and more number of patients, it is prudent to wait,” advises she.

Ladies, before you give into the urge to try out this method to relieve yourself of menstrual pain, here’s what you need to know. Dr Shefali Pandey, consultant gynaecologist, BSES Hospital says that there’s still insufficient evidence for use of this drug. “Sidenafil is a drug with many side-effects when used orally. Vaginal delivery route may bypass some of these but detailed pharmacokinetic studies need to be done for this route of administration. Also, unless we get data from larger clinical trials its large scale clinical use in primary dysmenorrhoea or menstrual cramps is not appropriate right now,” warns she.

Are paracetmols & NSAIDs safe?
In order to relieve period pain, usually women resort to taking paracetmol and/or Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) that available Over-The-Counter (OTC). “Yes, it’s generally OTC drugs which women take. Though NSAIDs and paracetamol drugs are safe, but when taken in high doses for a long time, they could damage liver or kidney. So women have to be careful about these too,” says Dr Palshetkar.


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