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Doctor reports three pregnancies in infertile women after using Viagra

graphic

March 23, 2000
Web posted at: 12:00 PM EST (1700 GMT)

LAS VEGAS, Nevada (CNN) -- In a small study, three out of four previously infertile women who used the drug Viagra became pregnant.

But the doctor who did the study, Dr. Geoffrey Sher, said women should not grab their husband's Viagra expecting it to cure the most common infertility problems.

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The women who took Viagra previously had thin uterine linings -- an embryo cannot attach and develop in a thin lining. Viagra works in men by increasing blood flow to the penis, and it's theorized that Viagra worked in these three women by increasing blood flow to the uterus, thus making the lining thicker, allowing better chances for conception.

"I'm deeply concerned people are going to grab their husbands' Viagra thinking here's a miracle drug...Do not dabble with your husband's Viagra."
-- Dr. Geoffrey Sher

While many fertility experts are excited that Viagra might be able to help some infertile women, they warn that the drug could cause damage to the mother and the developing fetus.

Experts say if more research shows promise in using Viagra, it would have limited application since this type of fertility problem constitutes a small percentage all infertile women. While an exact number is not known, Dr. Jamie Grifo, the director of the fertility clinic at New York University Medical Center, says out of the 1,000 women who are treated at his center, only three or four have lining problems.

Some doctors interviewed by CNN said they would not try Viagra because it's untested in pregnant women. Viagra has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration for men only.

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CNN NewsStand interviews one of the women who had a baby after undergoing this experimental treatment. 10 p.m. EST Thursday
 
 VIDEO
VideoCNN's Elizabeth Cohen describes results from a small study showing infertile women achieving pregnancy with Viagra.
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In a statement, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, said: "There are risks to Viagra use. Known side effects for women include high levels of nitric oxide in the womb, which can be both dangerous for the mother and toxic to developing embryos"

But Sher, the Las Vegas doctor who did the study, said he is not concerned that Viagra would harm the baby, since he has the mothers stop using it a week before he implants the embryo.

Sher said the study was designed to see if Viagra would increase blood flow and lead to a thicker uterine lining. But he was not surprised that three pregnancies resulted. He also advises further study before Viagra is considered a fertility treatment.

"If used correctly, the way I've described, it cannot harm the embryo or the baby. What's there to lose, for somebody who's desperate?" he said.

But Dr. Jennifer Berman, an expert on women and Viagra at the Boston University Medical Center, said it's unknown whether Viagra could still have an effect even if discontinued seven days before implantation.

She said Sher is using Viagra in a new way: He had it ground up and made into a vaginal suppository which the women inserted four times a day. Sher warned that Viagra must be taken very carefully, and that taking it orally won't help at all and could cause harm.

"I'm deeply concerned people are going to grab their husbands' Viagra thinking here's a miracle drug," he said. "Do not dabble with your husband's Viagra."

The results of Sher's study will be published in the April edition of the British journal Human Reproduction.



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Inexpensive fertility treatments as effective as high-tech methods, study says
January 20, 1999
Doctors warned to check heart before prescribing Viagra
December 31, 1998
Viagra for women, more and more are turning to the impotence drug
November 4, 1998
Study: Stress relief may be key to conceiving
October 10, 1998

RELATED SITES:
Boston University Medical Campus
American Society of Reproductive Medicine
New York Hospitals Center
Food and Drug Administration Home Page
Journal of Human Reproduction and Genetic Ethics
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