The Co-Inventor of Viagra Is Developing a Cannabis-Based Gel to Enhance Sex for Women

One of the scientists behind two of the most successful drugs for erectile dysfunction is now working on a cannabis-based "sexual enhancement" for women. Dr. Harin Padma-Nathan is a urologist and sexual-disorders specialist who worked with a team of researchers to develop Viagra and Cialis. While Padma-Nathan is happy to have helped men suffering from erectile dysfunction for over 20 years now, Padma-Nathan says sexual dysfunction treatments for women continue to lag behind.

"The prevalence of sexual dysfunction is high in both genders, and this causes distress in both genders," Padma-Nathan told the Boston Globe.

But he hopes to change that by teaming up with Manna Molecular Science - a company that makes cannabis transdermal patches. Together, they hope to develop a new, cannabis-based treatment for women experiencing sexual dysfunction.

Manna CEO Nial DeMena said he became interested in exploring cannabis-based sexual health products for women when the company's female customers reported that wearing their cannabis patches on their pelvis improved their sexual experiences. That feedback inspired DeMena to approach Padma-Nathan about the possibility of using cannabis to enhance sex for women. Padma-Nathan told him "there's pretty good evidence" that it could.

Last Sepember, a study published in the Journal of Sex Medicine surveyed over 50,000 people and found that cannabis consumers have more sex than their non-consumers. And just last week a separate study found that cannabis use among women is associated with better, more satisfying orgasms.

But to enhance sex, you have to use the right dose of cannabis.

"The evidence is that in lower doses, cannabis enhances sexual function, and at extremely high doses, it may have a detrimental effect," said Padma-Nathan, who is now pursuing a cannabis-infused vaginal gel designed to improve sex for women.

However, other researchers warn women that cannabis can't fix all of their sexual issues.

"The most common sexual dysfunction in women is desire," said Dr. Martin Miner - a clinical professor of urology and family medicine at Brown University.

So cannabis can't cure sexual dysfunction in women in the same way Viagra cures erectile dysfunction. That complication could explain why Padma-Nathan and Manna plan to market the vaginal gel as a "sexual enhancement" product as opposed to medicine. 

"This is not a treatment for a severe medical issue," Padma-Nathan said. "We want to be conservative in what we promise."

That cautious approach also allows them to skip the process of getting FDA approval for the cannabis gel, which could be available as early as this summer. The estimated cost of a bottle of the cannabis-infused gel is somewhere between $20 and $30 and would likely contain 10 doses.

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