Viagra was created to help those with erectile dysfunction. An inability to achieve an erection or sustain one. A truly distressing problem for a man. There are no accurate figures out there due to the sensitive nature of the problem to calculate just how many men suffer from this. It is believed that around 5% of 40 year old men and 25% of 65 year olds have this condition.
In brief. An erection occurs when the two chambers of spongy tissue, the corpora cavernosa and are relaxed allowing the blood to flow in and fill the spaces in the tissue. Creating pressure which makes the penis expand and harden.
The blood is trapped there by a membrane called the tunica albuginea which helps to sustain the erection. An erection isn’t maintained when the muscles contract to stop the blood flowing in to the penis and the outflow channels are opened.
The most common cause of erectile dysfunction is tissue damage to the nerves, arteries, muscles or fibrous tissue.
This can be due to disease or conditions like diabetes, kidney disease, chronic alcoholism, MS and cardiovascular disease. Which make up 70% of the cases reported.
It can also be a side effect of taking medications such as blood pressure drugs, antihistamines, antidepressants and tranquillisers. So you can see why so many people are eager to obtain this little blue pill.
However experts believe that up to 20% of cases arise from stress, anxiety, guilt, low self-esteem and fear of sexual failure. Smoking has also been associated with the problem as it affects the blood flow.
Psychotherapy can help certain individuals and there are alternative methods which others can turn to.
One of those is the vacuum device, which can be used to encourage erections. They work on the principal that placing the penis within a vacuum will draw the blood in to it. Usually they consist of a plastic cylinder in which the penis is placed. A pump is then used to extract the air around the penis. Once an erection is achieved an elastic band is placed at the base of the penis to help maintain the erection.
Other methods include, penile injection which was more common before the advent of Viagra in 1999 and surgery to introduce implanted devices to aid erection, including bladders which can be inflated with pressurised fluid.
What prompted me to write this post was the advent of over the counter sales of Viagra at Boots chemists in the UK on Valentines Day of all days. Now men between the age of 30 and 65 will be able to buy 4 Viagra pills for £50 following a consultation with the pharmacist.
This in itself is a good move, taking the back street drug vendor out of the loop, ensuring that the guy undergoes an hour long consultation, including blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol checks. This will also allow Boots to identify people who should be receiving this drug free from their GP on medical grounds.
I must admit this seems to be a move in the right direction but at the same time it does make me worried that an increasing number of men are turning to the drug as a recreational one. Young men are obtaining and using the drug to have all night sexual prowess and this is worrying because a long term side effect of using it can be erectile dysfuction.
It reminds me very much of the pain killer addiction stories I have read. Where pain killers are taken to relieve headaches but at the same time cause medication over-use headaches, therefore creating a vicious circle.
On a more positive note, Viagra was used to save a baby’s life. Here is the link to the incredible story of Lewis Goodfellow, born at just 24 weeks with a failing lung and whose life was saved by Viagra.