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Viagra Could Potentially Treat Menstrual Cramps

Update Date: Dec 10, 2013 04:01 PM EST
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Viagra, the little blue pill, is marketed to men who suffer from erectile dysfunctions. In a new study, researchers examined one of the main ingredients called sildenafil citrate that is used in many erectile dysfunction drugs. The researchers found, in an extremely small sample that this ingredient has the potential to treat menstrual cramps in women.

For this study, the researchers conducted a small trial in Croatia. 25 women between the ages of 18 and 35 volunteered to be a part of the study. Roughly half of the participants were given sildenafil citrate via the vagina while the remaining participants received a placebo. The researchers then asked the participants to rate their pain levels and relief. The team found that women in both groups experienced pain relief. However, women who received the lipid compound reported higher levels of pain relief.

"It seems counterintuitive, but what sildenafil citrate does is dilate blood vessels," said Richard Legro, a gynecologist at Penn State College of Medicine and one of the authors of the study according to The Los Angeles Times. "It leads to an erection in men, but in women, we think it can be an effective treatment for acute menstrual pain."

Menstrual cramps usually occur at the beginning of the cycle. Cramps can range from moderate to severe with pain concentrated in the pelvic region. Menstrual cramps, medically called primary dysmenorrhea, are caused by the overproduction of a lipid compound known as prostaglandins. Prostaglandins are in charge of muscle contractions and relaxations.

"If future studies confirm these findings, sildenafil (Viagra) may become a treatment option for patients with PD [primary dysmenorrhea]," Legro wrote reported by CBS News. "Since PD is a condition that most women suffer from and seek treatment for at some point in their lives, our study offers hope that vaginal sildenafil citrate is a safe and effective option for patients who do not desire or are unresponsive to treatments now available on the market."

The researchers aim to study the effects of taking Viagra orally or vaginally for the treatment of menstrual cramps. They also plan on observing the effects of different dosages. The study was published online in Human Reproduction in August.

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