Osphena: Is It the Female Viagra?

Dr. Sharon Orrange
Dr. Orrange is an Associate Professor of Clinical Medicine in the Division of Geriatric, Hospitalist and General Internal Medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of USC.
Posted on

In the hunt for the female Viagra, there has been a small victory. Osphena has been approved for vaginal dryness and painful intercourse as a result of vaginal atrophy that occurs with menopause. What does this mean and will this help improve libido in women?

Libido in women takes a huge dive during menopause. One of the culprits for this is vaginal dryness that may result in uncomfortable sex.

Ospemifene (Osphena) has just been approved based on studies that showed it is effective and well-tolerated for the treatment of the symptoms of vaginal dryness and dyspareunia (painful intercourse) over and above the use of lubricants.

So, this is new. Postmenopausal women with vaginal dryness and pain during intercourse can try Osphena. Osphena is a pill that acts as an estrogen agonist/antagonist and it’s an alternative to vaginal or oral estrogens.

In early studies Osphena resulted in significant improvement of painful intercourse compared to women who received a placebo. Side effects were minor, with hot flashes being the most common followed by vaginal discharge.

Now for the warnings. The use of Osphena can stimulate the endometrium (lining of the uterus), which increases the risk of endometrial cancer because of the effects of unopposed estrogen. Adding a progestin to estrogen therapy can reduce this risk.

Women should use Osphena for short periods of time and must be evaluated for any unusual vaginal bleeding. From these studies we don’t know that it does anything to improve libido (interest in sex) so I ask you: will it be the female Viagra?

Dr O.

Drugs featured in this story

Filed under