“It does appear to be Viagra because there are physiological changes that can’t be faked,’ she said.
Many of the women, aged 22 to 71, had psychological problems with sex, Berman said. These include poor body image, a history of sexual abuse, or marital trouble. “Those women don’t respond to Viagra or any drug,” she said.
Some men do, however, have a strong “placebo response” to Viagra, meaning that they think it will work so it does. “Eighty-five to 90 percent of men with psychological problems respond to Viagra,” Berman said.
Pfizer says seven million prescriptions have been written for Viagra worldwide, which earned the company $788 million last year.
In March a team at Columbia Presbyterian Center in New York found that Viagra has no more of an effect in women than a dummy pill would.
But Dr. Steven Kaplan, the urologist who led the study, agreed his patients may not have been optimal Viagra patients, because many had emotional or psychological problems.
For women, Viagra may not be the universal answer that the little blue pills can be for men, Berman said. Even if it takes care of their physical symptoms, it may not solve their problems.
Sex is simply more emotional for a woman, she said. “Although there are physiological, medical reasons why women have sexual complaints, there are emotional and relational consequences to sexual dysfunction that are relevant to women,” Berman added.
“While men can define their sexual function in terms of rigidity, for women it doesn’t work that way.”