to meAfter the breakup of a five-year relationship, James was nervous about dating again. He was 27 years old, healthy, and had a good sex life. But when he came to sleep with new people, he had “performance anxiety”. “I was really struggling to get it,” he says. “I got to this point where I was having sex with a lot of people with a 75 percent error rate.” James assumed the problem was only nervous. He did not seek advice from his GP. Instead, he began self-medicating with sildenafil – better known as Viagra. It worked right away.
“When you take it, you can actually focus on enjoying sex and being in the moment,” he says, “as opposed to thinking, ‘Oh my God, Donny fails.’” number! number! Do not stop! continue! When he started dating someone new, James felt an even greater need to rely on the drug. Wanting to make sure he wasn’t disappointed, and sensing they were about to have sex, James decided – just to be sure – he would “double” two tablets of the maximum strength 100mg. But his new partner was not in the mood and slept next to him.
“I felt like my penis was about to explode,” James says. “I was incredibly faint.” He remembers the capillaries on the surface of his eyes looming as he stared into the darkness. He was very upset. “I needed to pee, so I would pee from two or three meters away to land it in the toilet,” he says.
Now in his 30s, James still takes Viagra regularly. He never told his partner what he had done. And at this point, he is not alone. He estimates that as many as half of his male friends have told him they take Viagra, and he suspects that more of them do so secretly. Some, like Josh, 27, admit to taking it primarily as a recreational drug to enhance the sexual experience — “I tried it and it was like I was 14 again.” The pill is usually associated with older men. But increasing numbers of men under the age of 50 are also taking sildenafil.
Possible side effects include decreased effectiveness over time, as well as more serious results. Dr Shereen Lakhani, a physician who offers specialized treatments for erectile dysfunction at her own London-based clinic, says: Serious short-term side effects include strokes and heart attacks very rarely, as well as diarrhea and gastritis.
Issue numbers for independent By drug company Viatris shows that between May 2020 and May 2021 Viagra Connect has sold more than seven million tablets in the UK. According to the company, more than 60 per cent of users in the UK are between the ages of 25 and 54.
The drug is much more accessible than it was before thanks to the relaxation of the controls. Viagra Connect, released in 2018, is an over-the-counter form that can be obtained without a prescription. It has become so popular that Boots last month announced the launch of its own generic version, which will be priced cheaper than the big-name brand. Generic sildenafil can also be purchased online with a prescription, which can be obtained relatively easily by answering a brief consultation. “Of our base devoted to erectile dysfunction, 9 percent are in their twenties and 21 percent are in their thirties,” says Abbas Kinani, an online pharmacist.
This adds a lot of young users. And although erectile dysfunction is still a somewhat taboo topic among young people, it seems to be very common. According to a 2018 study, about half of British men in their 30s reported having difficulty getting or maintaining an erection. However, like James, young men with erectile dysfunction don’t necessarily talk to their doctor about it. “In my role as an NHS GP, I see almost no men in their twenties and thirties with erectile dysfunction,” says Dr Luke Pratsidis, who also works for a men’s health website. “This is likely because young people do not have access to traditional channels of health care and may not want to have multiple points of contact to discuss sexual function, which for many may be difficult to talk about.”
In bypassing the doctor, men miss the proper diagnosis. James has never asked his doctor about the underlying cause of his erectile dysfunction – but he suspects he has some level of performance anxiety. This is broadly defined as men who don’t necessarily have a problem every time they have sex, or when they masturbate, but who – like James – feel comfortable knowing that the pill will help them if they are locked up in a murder. negative. “If I’m sleeping with someone for the first time, I get anxious, so I take that,” James says. “But over time I feel more comfortable around them – and then I don’t really need them.”
Performance anxiety is a common cause of erectile dysfunction, but it’s not much discussed, according to Peter Saddington, a sex therapist who works in the Andrology Department at Royal Sheffield Hallamshire Hospital. “Anxiety releases a chemical in the brain that has a negative effect on erections. It interferes with feelings of relaxation and sex,” he explains. The problem is often exacerbated by the excitement of having sex with someone for the first time. “The body interprets excitement as also close to anxiety, because you’re meeting someone new.”
Sadington notes that “at a certain point,” even sildenafil will stop working. “Viagra does not give you an erection. It facilitates the natural process, so if you become increasingly anxious, eventually your anxiety can overtake the effect of sildenafil.”
James says he’s always worried about his sexual performance — but especially with a new partner — and remembers the first time he heard some of his girlfriends talk about sex. “What is painfully clear to me is that women in their thirties obsess and enjoy the finer details of male anatomy,” James says. “It’s like girth and height and movement. Everything is so boring – that way – in front of their friends. Having watched it – at a table with people I’ve already slept with – I know how stressful it is to offer good sex.”
It’s unclear how James’s sexual partners feel about it, as he mostly doesn’t tell them. But Wendy, 37, says she won’t be happy when she finds out her boyfriend has been secretly taking Viagra. “Because I’ll feel like, oh, aren’t I enough?” Says. “But then I understood that [erectile dysfunction] More common as men get older.” “As far as she knows, I’ve only had sex with a guy who takes sildenafil once: a one-night stand, which I then found out about from a mutual friend. The sex was average, which is the fact that Wendy is partly due to the medication.” There was something a bit fake about it. It wasn’t the connected, passionate sex that I suppose I had with someone who wasn’t it.”
Viatris, a subsidiary of the pharmaceutical giant Pfizer that makes Viagra, has provided some data to independent From a survey of 5,007 people – including 2,445 men – commissioned in 2020. One of the questions they asked was “What are the top three barriers to being more intimate?”. Nine percent of people aged 18 to 24 and 10 percent of people aged 25 to 34 identified “sexual problems, such as difficulty getting or maintaining an erection” as the main cause. Of all men who experienced erectile dysfunction, nearly a third (29 percent) said it was because they were “concerned about not being able to get or maintain an erection.”
However, the underlying causes of erectile dysfunction can be more complex. “Erectile dysfunction is often overlooked as a psychological condition [or] “However, while psychological causes may play a separate role, it is important to realize that there may be medical conditions that cause ED in younger men as well,” says Dr. Lakhani. Mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety affect erectile function either directly or as a side effect of the medicines used to treat it.” Dr. Lakhani says that lifestyle factors, such as smoking, drinking and obesity, can play a separate role, as do cardiovascular disease or diabetes.
She notes that performance anxiety is often present in erectile dysfunction – but that doesn’t mean it’s the cause. Dr Lakhani suspects that the incidence of erectile dysfunction may be “much higher than what has been reported due to the stigma and stigma surrounding sexual health problems”. It’s important to get a proper diagnosis of the underlying causes of erectile dysfunction.
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