Now available over the counter for the first time in NHS history, it’s never been easier for men to get their hands on Viagra. While health authorities insist the move will deter men from buying unregulated medicines on the black market (a recent study suggested as much as 70% of the Viagra bought online is counterfeit), others fear it could normalise use of the drug. We caught up with Dr Lucy Hooper and Dr Hugh Coyne from Coyne Medical to dispel the myths and find out the facts…
It’s More Common Than You Think
Prescriptions of Viagra and other erectile dysfunction drugs containing sildenafil (the main drug in Viagra) have tripled in the UK since 2008. Moreover, erectile dysfunction has been estimated to affect just over half of men between 40 and 70 years of age at some point. It’s strongly related to age and affected 2.3% at age 30 to 53.4% at age 80 in a recent study. A separate study revealed 21% of men aged 18-30 have used Viagra, 73.3% more than once.
It May Not Work
Viagra has been shown to be effective in 75% of men with erectile dysfunction. How a particular man responds to the drug much depends on the underlying cause of his erectile dysfunction and the degree of sexual stimulation he experiences. For some men, the standard dose may not be enough, but it’s estimated around four in five men will get an erection good enough to have sex.
It Doesn’t Work Instantly
Once swallowed, Viagra can take up to an hour to take effect. Even after it starts working, men will only get an erection if they’re aroused and it will usually disappear after sex.
Its Effects Are Temporary
The effects of Viagra can last between four and five hours. However, this doesn’t mean that an erection will last that long – simply that it can enhance the ability to attain an improved erection for that period of time. Men should seek medical help immediately if an erection lasts for more than four hours – the medical term for this is priapism and it can be serious.
It’s Not A Cure
Viagra doesn’t cure the problem of erectile dysfunction, it just helps to give a man an erection when a tablet is taken. There’s a misconception Viagra can give men a stronger erection or add to their desire but it’s not there to enhance prowess. If a man isn’t in the mood, it won’t do anything.
It’s Not The Only Option
Viagra is just one of the medicines available to treat erectile dysfunction and some men may suit others better. Some men could benefit from hormone treatments such as testosterone if that’s the root cause of their erectile dysfunction, while psychosexual counselling is also very effective at helping men or couples work through issues in the bedroom.
It Can Boost Confidence
Many men feel they’re letting their partner down by struggling to get and/or maintain an erection, which can lead to increased ‘performance anxiety’, which only exacerbates the problem. Viagra can help to boost confidence in men, especially those who have a new partner having been widowed or divorced. In these cases, men often only require one prescription until the relationship becomes more secure and they feel more confident.
It’s Affected By Certain Foods & Drinks
Consuming a meal with a high fat content will slow absorption of Viagra, reducing its efficacy. Plus, your stomach is then focused on digesting food and blood is diverted away from the genitals, lessening the likelihood of an erection. And as for drinking alcohol – this increases the risk of an adverse reaction and reduces testosterone levels.
It’s Linked To Diabetes
While there are many different causes of erectile dysfunction – spanning from stress to hormonal imbalances – it has also been linked to diabetes. Increasing rates of diabetes in the UK could help to explain Viagra’s popularity in recent years. However, some health experts are dubious as to whether erectile dysfunction really is on the rise or whether men have just become more comfortable about talking to their GP about sexual health.
It's Not For Everyone
For most men, Viagra is safe. However, men with severe heart, liver or kidney disease, or low blood pressure should seek advice from their GP before taking the drug. It’s crucial to remember Viagra is a serious drug and is unsuitable for those in otherwise normal sexual relationships. It may seem like a good idea for a special night of romance but it’s a serious medication that’s best kept for when it’s needed.
It’s also not suitable for women – there has never been a widespread medical trial of Viagra in women so the exact effects the drug may have on female patients are not known. it’s currently unclear whether Viagra is safe for women or which side effects and long-term effects it could have on the female body.
For more information or advice on Viagra visit CoyneMedical.com