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Viagra not just for men, could help menstrual cramps in women

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According to HealthDay News on Monday, women dealing with painful menstrual cramps may receive relief from an unexpected source - Viagra, the erectile dysfunction medication normally found in their husbands' little blue pills.

Since the little blue pill hit the market in 1998, scientists haven't stopped exploring alternate uses for it. Viagra has also been credited with easing jet lag, enhancing athletic performance and increasing women's libido.

Menstrual cramps are caused when the uterus, which is itself a muscle, contracts and temporarily cuts off oxygen supply to the uterus muscle tissue, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

In a small study, 25 women aged 18 to 35 received sildenafil citrate — the key ingredient in the name-brand erectile dysfunction drug — or a placebo.

When administered vaginally, researchers found the drug worked to ease primary dysmenorrhea (PD), or period cramps, that sometimes don't respond to painkillers such as ibuprofen.

"If future studies confirm these findings, sildenafil may become a treatment option for patients with PD," said Richard Legro, professor of obstetrics and gynecology and public health sciences at Penn State College of Medicines, according to the statement. "Since PD 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."

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Emily Sutherlin is also the Pregnancy Examiner.

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©2013 Emily M. Sutherlin. All Rights Reserved.

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