Viagra is good for men, but does it hurt women?

The blockbuster virility drug can have an adverse impact on post-menopausal women

Published February 8, 2011 6:45PM (EST)

In the age of Viagra, are women getting the shaft in more ways than one? The little blue pill has been a windfall for aging men looking to reverse the flow of time and assuage their anxieties about waning virility. But for post-menopausal women, the drug is more bane than boon, according to Evelyn Resh, director of sexuality services and programming for Miraval Resorts.

Resh authored a column on the Huffington Post today that enumerates the physical changes women experiences after the onset of menopause:

These changes include decreased elasticity and lubrication, thinning of the tissue and constriction of the vaginal opening. Without reparative therapy, these changes can make intercourse about as comfortable as chewing glass. Oops! Pfizer and the practitioners who were writing prescriptions for Viagra forgot: women have health issues and needs too when it comes to aging, vaginal penetration, and their genital preparedness!

Resh rails against the Pharmaceutical Industrial Complex, as it were, suggesting that doctors disregard the well-being of women as they rush to prescribe Viagra to their "flaccid and forlorn male patients."

When it comes to women's genital health, the sorry facts are this; fewer than 25 percent of post-menopausal women who experience significant genital changes receive the care they need to live more comfortably with these changes. They're often essentially disregarded in the decision of whether or not her husband's restored ability for intercourse was something she could accommodate.

Viagra has achieved something of a fabled status as a panacea for the ebb of an aging relationship. But Resh isn't buying the quick-fix theory of romantic relationships that bolsters Viagra sales. Nor are other sexual health professionals.

Said Abraham Morgentaler in his book, "The Viagra Myth":

As I listened to my patients, I came to see that our culture had taken Viagra and created a legend out of it that went far beyond its actual pharmacological properties. People had come to expect that taking a little blue pill could solve their personal and relationship problems, no matter how complex those difficulties were.

So perhaps what's called for is a little less mythologizing and a little more sober-faced consideration about the drug's physical and emotional impact.

By Peter Finocchiaro

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