Move over, Viagra. Soon women may have a treatment for sexual dysfunction that is all their own.

Though Viagra (search) and a few other drugs are approved for erectile dysfunction (search), there are no approved medications to specifically treat lack of arousal in women, called female sexual arousal disorder (search). But a new study shows that a topical gel called Alista may be just what the doctor ordered.

The preliminary study included 51 premenopausal (search) women with female sexual arousal disorder. The women were treated with both Alista and placebo. Each treatment period lasted two months, and the treatments were administered in random order. Women kept diaries recording their sexual experiences including arousal and orgasm.

Those who used Alista (search) had 48 percent more successful and satisfactory sexual encounters than they did when they used a placebo gel.

The study was presented at the annual meeting of the International Society for the Study of Women’s Sexual Health in Atlanta.

“Female sexual arousal disorder is a common yet largely undertreated condition,” says researcher Stephanie Kuffel, PhD, an instructor in the department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle. Though further research is needed, “these results with Alista appear encouraging for the treatment of premenopausal women with female sexual arousal disorder,” she says.

About 20 percent of American women have female sexual arousal disorder, according to the study, making it one of the most common sexual dysfunction disorders in women. 

Alista is believed to work by increasing blood flow to the genitals, which occurs when a women is sexually aroused.

Women in the study reported some minor burning when applying both topical treatments.

By  Denise Mann MS, reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD

SOURCE:  International Society for the Study of Women’s Sexual Health Annual Meeting, Atlanta, Oct. 28-31, 2004.