Sildenafil may help women treated for depression

September 15, 2008

Among women taking serotonin reuptake inhibitors for depression, sildenafil may help relieve sexual dysfunction associated with the use of the antidepressants, according to research published in the July 23/30 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Among women taking serotonin reuptake inhibitors for depression, sildenafil may help relieve sexual dysfunction associated with the use of the antidepressants, according to research published in the July 23/30 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

H. George Nurnberg, MD, of the University of New Mexico School of Medicine in Albuquerque, and colleagues analyzed data from 98 premenopausal women who were randomized to take placebo or a flexible dose of sildenafil before sexual activity for 8 weeks. All had depression remission while on serotonin reuptake inhibitors but had persistent sexual dysfunction. The primary efficacy outcome measure was mean difference in change on the Clinical Global Impression scale for sexual function.

The change from baseline to end point in Clinical Global Impression scale sexual function improvement was significantly different between groups. The investigators found that 73% in the placebo group had no improvement, versus 28% in the treatment group. Headache, nasal congestion, visual disturbances, and dyspepsia were more commonly reported in the treatment group, the report indicates.

“These findings are important…because it establishes that selective phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitors are effective in both sexes for this purpose. By treating this bothersome treatment-associated adverse effect in patients who have been effectively treated for depression, but need to continue on their medication to avoid relapse or recurrence, patients can remain antidepressant-adherent, reduce the current high rates of premature medication discontinuation, and improve depression disease management outcomes,” the authors write.

Nurnberg and several co-authors disclosed financial relationships with a variety of pharmaceutical companies, and the study was supported by a grant from Pfizer.
Nurnberg HG, Hensley PL, Heiman JL, et al. Sildenafil treatment of women with antidepressant-associated sexual dysfunction. JAMA. 2008;300:395-404.