November 2014

How Viagra Saved My Sex Life

Author: HANNAH HANGADIK

It’s Saturday afternoon. Shades are drawn, candles flickering, the phone disconnected. As I slip between the sheets and align my body next to my husband’s, the warmth of his touch brings a quiver of familiar excitement. What follows is predictable and satisfying: the kind of sex that comes from years of practice along with a connectedness that trumps the thrill of new.

The first time my husband’s erection failed was like sudden death—not a gradual decline to become accustomed to, adapt to or accept. Out of the blue, our afternoon delight became a source of mutual angst.

“Is it me? Are you bored? Do I need to learn some new techniques? Buy sexier underwear? Is there someone else?” I ask through my fears and tears.

“Of course not,” he assures, secretly freaking out in his manly way (minus the tears).
One failure leads to another, which is often the case once a man experiences the agony of defeat in the bedroom. Time to call in the special forces. (Nothing will get a man to the doctor faster than a problem with his middle leg, although he may need a courage injection to broach the subject.)

As a society, we are immune to the topic of erectile dysfunction—no longer shocked or even mildly surprised by images of blissful couples touting the miracle of “the little blue pill” (Viagra) and its contemporaries (Cialis, Levitra, Staxyn and Stendra). ED drugs are often the butt of the joke, yet the reality of the problem can be serious and life-changing for men and women alike.

While men pop their pills with ease, whispers among the ladies reveal a common struggle to shift gears in the bedroom. With a sip and a swallow, the almighty penis is, once again, raring to go. Seems like a win-win until we look at the fallout.

It’s true that a reliable erection can be a nice perk for both partners, and it’s pretty safe to say that a confident lover is a better lover than a guy who’s worried about losing it. But for some women, a man’s renewed mojo imposes a degree of pressure to keep up, especially as we face our own aging process. From the onset of peri-menopause, hormones are fluctuating; many women are coping not only with hot flashes and waning libido, but with vaginal dryness, thinning tissues and loss of elasticity, which can make hard, pounding intercourse painful (if not impossible) and the mere thought of prolonged thrusting (or a second round) a source of distress. Doctors can work with us to help get our hormones in balance so that we can more fully embrace and enjoy our sexuality, but the solutions are much more complex and less certain than what is available to men.

Beyond the physical ramifications of ED drugs are the emotional consequences. As physical intimacy begins to revolve around the pill, women report feeling compelled to have “sex on demand,” either because they don’t want to waste a tablet (these drugs are not cheap) or because they don’t want to disappoint their partner.

Enter self-doubt and insecurity. What a lot of women need to be turned on is the feeling that they are desired. So with Viagra, they think, “It’s not me he wants; it’s just the pill.” Rest assured, ladies; it doesn’t work that way. ED drugs alone do not create erections. Desire and intent must be present for the medication to do its job.

Some wives also worry that revived virility will lead their husbands to look outside the marriage for sex. Plastic surgeons report that Viagra use is now another reason some women give when requesting breast implants, face-lifts and even vaginal rejuvenation.

Which is not to say that Viagra hasn’t ever led to straying, but not for the reasons most women think. If a wife or partner objects to ED drugs and the man is unable to have erections on his own, the relationship might be in trouble.

Then there are couples who have adjusted to life without sex. Perhaps the woman doesn’t really want it anymore, for one reason or another. An ED drug can throw that relationship seriously out of sync.

As a Viagra wife, I believe there is a time and place for the performance booster. It’s a little insurance policy for a man’s erection and ego, and if you anticipate an enjoyable experience, the timing and planning can actually heighten desire. Relax together while the drug takes effect, and embrace the ritual as part of your foreplay. What you’ve lost in spontaneity may just buy you more of the affection you crave without the urgency or rush to intercourse.

At the same time, we as women need to speak up about what we need and want from our partners—in and out of the bedroom—to keep our relationships healthy as we grow older together. We have to be clear about what works for us and what doesn’t and stop pretending to enjoy what we don’t. Most men are eager to please us in bed, and we cheat ourselves out of good sex when we don’t communicate.

Let’s encourage our partners to explore with us the various avenues to orgasm and many routes to mutual pleasure and connectedness. After all, if we stick around on this planet long enough, most of us (male and female) will reach a point in life when sexual intercourse is no longer an option or even a goal.

It’s Saturday afternoon. Shades are drawn, candles flickering, the phone disconnected. With or without Viagra, it’s time to start making love again.

What men need to know about Viagra
Viagra and other ED drugs work by increasing blood flow to the penis by blocking an enzyme, found mainly in the penis, that breaks down chemicals produced during sexual stimulation that normally produce erections. That is also why sexual stimulation is necessary for Viagra to work.
Viagra does not improve erections in normal men, only in those with difficulty in achieving or maintaining erections sufficient for sexual intercourse due to a true medical problem.

Viagra works best if taken about 30 to 60 minutes before sexual activity. Only one tablet should be taken per day, and it should be taken on an empty stomach. Increasing the dosage of Viagra beyond the recommended amounts will not improve the response and will only result in greater side effects, which can include facial flushing, headaches, stomach pain, nasal congestion, nausea, diarrhea, loss of hearing, ringing in the ears and dizziness.

Many men seek Viagra for recreational use, as studies have shown that the drug can shorten the time it takes to recover after sex and achieve another erection. What Viagra cannot do is increase your sexual appetite or make you ejaculate if you have problems reaching orgasm. The hormone testosterone is the force behind libido. Even with normal amounts of testosterone, Viagra will not give you an instant erection.

Although you may be tempted to order Viagra discreetly from one of the hundreds of websitesthat sell it, don’t. “Buying what you think is Viagra (sildenafil) on the Internet may be the perfect definition of fool’s gold,” said Michael Roizen, M.D., Cleveland Clinic’s chief wellness officer. “You have no idea what you’re getting. Analyses of fake Viagra pills report that some contain zero active ingredients. Others contain 200 percent of the normal dose. Neither is safe, and the latter could be very dangerous. Plus, these pills may be adulterated with substances like talcum powder, printer’s ink, and commercial paint. Sound sexy to you?”

If you are experiencing ED, man up and see your doctor to determine the underlying cause. According to the National Institutes of Health, men experience ED for reasons ranging from narrowing of the blood vessels with age to high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, and neurological problems. Viagra may be the solution to your erection problem, and the medical examination could very well save your life.

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