A female equivalent of Viagra could soon be available to help women achieve the perfect orgasm, claim scientists.
A team working for Pfizer, the pharmaceutical firm behind Viagra, in Sandwich, Kent, has uncovered a substance that boosts female sexual arousal, increasing her chance of orgasm.
The findings could pave the way for a drug similar in effect to Viagra, which has helped countless men.
In the study, using a novel prototype drug, researchers discovered more about the mechanisms underlying female sexual arousal.
The finding is published in the British Journal of Pharmacology.
The boffins found that electrically stimulating the pelvic nerve increases blood flow to the genitalia, and that this effect was enhanced if they also gave a prototype drug (UK-414,495).
They believe that the drug acts by blocking the breakdown of an internal chemical messenger that plays a key role in increasing blood flow during sexual arousal.
When women become aroused, blood flow increases to the vagina, labia and clitoris. This causes the organs to swell, and the vagina to relax, as well as increasing vaginal lubrication and the sensitivity of the genitalia.
Female sexual arousal disorder (FSAD) affects up to 40percent of women irrespective of age. These women find that their genital organs do not respond to sexual stimulation, they find arousal difficult and this causes them to become distressed.
"Before this work, we knew surprisingly little about the processes that control all of these changes," says the lead researcher in the project Chris Wayman. "Now we are beginning to establish the pathways involved in sexual arousal scientists may be able to find ways of helping women who would like to overcome FSAD."
In the study, researchers stimulated the pelvic nerve and measured changes in genital organs. They believed the genital arousal occurred because stimulation of the nerve triggered the release of vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP), a well-known neurotransmitter. VIP has only a short-lived effect, because it is soon broken down by an enzyme called Neutral Endopeptidase (NEP). The researchers believe that their prototype drug increased the arousal because it blocked NEP's ability to break down VIP, therefore letting the VIP have a more powerful and prolonged effect increasing arousal.