Big Erections Don’t Equal Big Performance In The Bedroom

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Recent reports, both in traditional and on social media, paint a picture of men falling down like dominos while in the “line of duty” from the effects of the sex-enhancing drugs, popularly known as Viagra. Experts acknowledge that the controlled medicines are being dispensed with abandon and men, young and old, are eating them like groundnuts. Why is an increasing number of men, both young and old, resorting to drugs to attend to bedroom affairs whose solutions, or even causes, may not be entirely sexual? Why the drug-fueled sex?

Truth be told, we live in an era where underperformance under the sheets is something that can break a man’s self-esteem. This pushes men who have doubts about their ability to find a stimulant, and that is how they end up with Viagra, also called the blue pill. Viagra is a little diamond-shaped tablet used by men who suffer erectile dysfunction to aid in rigidity. It has an ingredient called sildenafil citrate, which boosts performance by hastening blood flow into the reproductive organs, enabling men to not only get but also sustain the turgidity. Manufacturers of the drugs have for decades maintained that the pill is safe for use as long as a doctor or pharmacist gives the green-light.

Erectile dysfunction (ED) can result from factors that are medical, psychological, emotional, or a combination of these. Medical conditions that can cause erectile dysfunction include high blood pressure; diabetes; heart and kidney diseases; and multiple sclerosis and injury to the penis, prostrate, pelvis, or spinal cord from surgery or other sources. Psychological issues that might contribute to erectile dysfunction include anxiety, depression, guilt, stress, and low self-esteem. Some lifestyle choices can also lead to erectile dysfunction, including alcohol or drug use, excess weight, lack of exercise and smoking.


As erectile dysfunction is a medical problem, people who have cases that persist for several weeks or more should visit a doctor. This is particularly important for those who suspect that their erectile dysfunction might relate to an underlying cause, such as heart disease or diabetes. Those taking certain prescribed drugs may wish to discuss possible side effects and alternatives with their doctor.

Until Viagra, the possibilities for treating erectile dysfunction ranged from dubious to downright scary. Ancient Greeks and Romans ate snakes as well as the genitalia of goats and roosters.Romans also advised wearing “the right molar of a small crocodile” as a talisman to guarantee erections. One 13th-century monk advised men to roast a wolf’s penis, chop it into small pieces, and eat a small portion for instantaneous arousal; European astrologers during the Renaissance and the Enlightenment suggested urinating through a spouse’s wedding ring. Beginning in the 18th century, electrical belts and beds also promised help.


In the years leading up to the introduction of Viagra, men often had to turn furtively to the back pages of nudie magazines to find “miracle” creams and gels—or supplements like ginseng and (the aptly named) horny goat weed. And if they tried the medical route, intervention might have involved painful injections or silicon rods and pump-activated inflatable cylinders that were surgically implanted in the penis. Ouch.

Undoubtedly, Viagra offered a dramatic improvement on these options. And it’s always a good thing to lessen stigma around sex. Still, despite the liberating effect it has had on men, the drug also reinforces several harmful stereotypes about sex and relationships. For many in our instant-gratification culture, the drug is seen as a quick fix not only for an aging appendage, but for fragile psyches and relationships as well. The little blue pill promises eternal youth, sexual prowess and extreme virility, handily regenerating lackluster marriages by making sex last forever. But the fact is, Viagra just helps increase blood flow to a man’s nether parts; it doesn’t bestow erotic intelligence. Forget connection, pleasure, intimacy, sensuality—with Viagra, the emphasis is on getting it up, getting it in and getting it done. This magic-bullet approach to relationships limits possibilities. The message of Viagra—that a big erection equals great sex—deemphasises the physical, emotional and erotic communication necessary to true intimacy.

Indeed, in a society where the cultural construct of manhood is linked to impossible standards of constant, on-demand performance—economic, sexual, or otherwise—the possibility of failing to deliver can spell humiliation. Viagra has offered an enticing shield against embarrassment, a promise that penetrative sex—i.e. robust manhood—could always be on the table. But here’s the thing: From behind this barrier, a man doesn’t have to reckon with the very feelings of vulnerability that, ironically, might help him grow his empathy and sensitivity, and connect more honestly and intimately with his partner.

And what do intimate partners say? Certainly, men and women alike have welcomed their partner’s renewed ability to get—and keep—it up. On the same-sex side, some men call Viagra a godsend, since erections help condoms stay on, reducing the risk for disease transmission. Some women, though, have expressed mixed feelings about the drug. With its emphasis on facilitating intercourse-based sexual encounters, Viagra has contributed nothing to the understanding of the elusive female orgasm. In fact, with a recent study finding that more than 80% of women don’t climax through intercourse alone, the drug has likely widened the gulf between men’s experience of sexual pleasure and women’s. Meanwhile, some women are wondering when drug companies will be offering a “little pink pill” to address their own sexual dysfunction and low libido.


There are many alternatives to Viagra that can improve or reverse the symptoms of erectile dysfunction. These options include drugs, medical treatments, lifestyle changes, and alternative remedies. The following changes may be helpful for those with erectile dysfunction:

Eating a balanced diet: Some research suggests that eating flavonoid-rich foods, such as blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, and citrus fruits, can reduce erectile dysfunction in both young and middle-aged men. Maintaining a healthy body weight: Being overweight or obese can cause or worsen erectile dysfunction. Engaging in regular exercise: Physical activity can benefit those with erectile dysfunction in several ways. It improves circulation, reduces stress, and it contributes to a healthy body weight. Quitting smoking: Research indicates a strong link between the intensity of cigarette smoking and the degree of erectile dysfunction. Stopping smoking can improve erectile function in many smokers. Avoiding too much alcohol and illicit drug use: Drinking too much, or taking illegal drugs, can affect sexual function in men. Smoking marijuana can cause erectile dysfunction. Seeking help for psychological or emotional issues: Addressing stress, anxiety, depression, and other types of emotional distress can improve or resolve symptoms.

Viagra has been an amazing contribution to the evolution of sexuality—in some ways it’s as important as contraception for women. But the erection is just one aspect of sex, and a little blue pill will never replace communication and eroticism. It alleviates performance anxiety, allowing partners to focus on everything that comes before, during, and after—on what kind of lover they want to be. Viagra should be celebrated as the beginning of a conversation—not the end.

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