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Viagra could be prescribed to women in labour – children could be born healthier

Drug testing process is long and tedious. Not only new medicine has to be tested with animal models, it also has to pass various government regulations, clinical trials and only then can be included in some kind of therapy. It takes years for medicine to come from a laboratory to a pharmacy shelf. However, the process is much shorter if currently used medicine is tested for a new therapy. This is exactly what scientists now are doing with erectile dysfunction drug to help women in labour.

Previously Viagra has been tested for use in women to enhance sexual pleasure, but now its properties could reduce distress during labour. Image credit: SElefant via Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)

All drugs are highly specialized. They can perform only those functions that they’ve been tested for. But sometimes the same compounds can be useful in more than one scenario. Now scientists are looking into using erectile dysfunction drug to improve outcomes during labour. This drug, commonly known as Viagra, could help women by increasing blood flow to the uterus and placenta, which could reduce distress during labour. Essentially, Viagra could improve the outcome of childbirth, because increased blood flow would improve transport of oxygen and nutrients to the baby.

Distress during birth is extremely important factor for the health of the baby. Reducing distress could have positive short and long term effects, effectively improving child’s health at a very crucial moment in life. Distress can be so severe during labour that an emergency caesarean procedure is required, which can also be traumatic and have a negative impact on child’s health. Thankfully, initial results are very promising and Viagra, technically known as Sildenafil, has a huge potential to become a useful tool to improve outcomes of labour.

230 women have taken part in the randomised trial already, but scientists are not done yet – 200 more will be involved in the trial in the next 12 months. So fare results are extremely good. Professor Sailesh Kumar, one of the researchers in the study, said: “When Sildenafil was taken in the early stages of labour, there was almost a 50 per cent reduction in women requiring an emergency caesarean or a forceps delivery because of fetal distress”. In other worlds, labour was easier, less stressful and the baby was born more peacefully. This should improve child’s health condition both early and later in life.

Viagra has been tested on women before, but previous studies researched its ability to enhance sexual satisfaction. And they failed – Viagra was never approved for women. But now this might change if scientists manage to prove its benefits during certain situations in labour.

 

Source: University of Queensland


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