Feb 132011

A recent research article in The Journal of Sexual Medicine found that usage of a nitric oxide-delivering gel helped women with sexual response problems. The gel did not contain nitric oxide (NO) itself, but rather a molecule containing NO that quickly breaks down to release it.

NO is a gas that, among other things, causes blood vessels to dilate (widen). It is such a small molecule (just 1 nitrogen connected to 1 oxygen) that it diffuses through cells (and their membranes) quickly and easily. It’s metabolized very quickly.

NO is already well known to play a role in penile erections, so it’s not surprising it should have an effect on the physical aspects of female sexual response (NO enters the erogenous tissues and causes the blood vessels within to dilate, engorging the tissue with blood). What is different here is the specific gel used. I have hopes that similar gels will become available by prescription or commercially.

Consumer warning! Nitric oxide pills and powders are generally scams. Nitric oxide gels may contain other chemicals which may be dangerous to your health. I’ve seen at least one gel contain yohimbine extract, which should NOT be taken by anyone with heart, kidney, or liver problems. Supplements are not under the same FDA guidelines as drugs. Rule of thumb: always, ALWAYS read the ingredients list thoroughly and research the ingredients (I find NCCAM to be a good resource as well as Wikipedia.) and talk with your doctor. It’s fine to want to experiment, but please do so safely!

Another note: Nitric oxide is NOT nitrous oxide (laughing gas). Nitrous oxide is a topic for another day.