A team of US researchers has shown that Viagra, the anti-impotence drug, may help some women overcome their fertility problems. Geoffry Sher, of the Sher Institute for Reproductive Medicine, Las Vegas, gave the drug to four women who had failed to become pregnant following at least three IVF attempts. Three of the women subsequently became pregnant and two have already delivered healthy babies.
All the women in the study had thin womb linings, which Sher believed was preventing healthy embryos from implanting. He was experimenting with ways of increasing blood flow to the womb, to thicken the lining. 'It all seemed to be related to the paucity of blood to the uterine wall through muscle tissue' he told New Scientist. When the new anti-impotence drug came on the market, Sher realised its potential for helping his patients. The drug was administered as a vaginal suppository, four times a day for a week. The embryos were implanted a week after treatment with the last suppository. Viagra works by relaxing blood vessel walls, increasing blood flow to the affected area.
Sher warns that his findings are preliminary, but hopes that Viagra will make it possible for women with this type of fertility problem to conceive naturally, avoiding IVF altogether.
Dr John Mills, chairman of the British Fertility Society says the idea 'should be looked at with enthusiasm'.