Young people are increasingly turning to Viagra

DAfter ending a five-year relationship, James was nervous about dating again. He was 27 years old, healthy and had a good sex life. But she suffered from “performance anxiety” when it came to having sex with new people. “I was really having a hard time getting an erection,” he says. “I got to a point where I was having sex with a lot of people with a 75 percent failure rate.” James assumed that the problem was just nerves. He did not consult his GP. Instead, he began self-medicating with sildenafil, better known as Viagra. It worked immediately.

“When you take it, you can focus on enjoying sex and being in the moment,” he explains, “instead of thinking, ‘Oh my god, my penis is failing. No! No! Stop! No! You go on!'” However, when she started dating a new man, James felt an even greater need to rely on the drug. To make sure it wasn’t hopeless, and realizing they were about to have sex, James decided that, to be safe, he would take two full strength 100mg pills. However, his partner was not in the mood and slept next to him.

“I felt like my penis was about to explode,” James says. “I felt incredibly vulnerable.” He remembers the blood capillaries on the surface of his eyes coming into focus as he stared into the dark. He was feeling deeply uncomfortable. “I needed to pee,” he says, “so I peeed maybe six or three feet away so it fell down the toilet.”

Now in his thirties, James still takes Viagra regularly. He never told his partner what he had done. And in this regard, he is not alone. She estimates that more than half of her male friends have told her that they take Viagra, and she suspects that there are others who secretly do so. Some, like 27-year-old Josh, admit they take 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 commonly associated with older men. But an increasing number of men under the age of 50 are also taking sildenafil.

Possible side effects include reduced effectiveness over time, as well as more serious consequences. “Prolonged use of Viagra can potentially increase the risk of psychological dependence and is also associated with a variety of problems affecting the hearing and vision systems,” Dr. Shireen Lakhani, a doctor who provides specialized treatment for erectile dysfunction in her personal area. Practice in London. “Serious short-term side effects include stroke and heart attack, as well as diarrhea and gastritis in very rare cases.”

figures reported to independent Viagra Connect sold more than seven million tablets in the UK between May 2020 and May 2021, according to pharmaceutical company Viatris. According to the company, more than 60 percent of UK users are between the ages of 25 and 54.

This drug is more accessible than ever before due to relaxation in control. Viagra Connect, launched in 2018, is an over-the-counter version that can be obtained without a prescription. It’s become so popular that last month Boots announced the launch of its own generic version, which will cost 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 short consultation. “Of our customer base with erectile dysfunction, 9 percent are in their twenties and 21 percent are in their thirties,” says Abbas Kanani, an online pharmacist.

It connects a large number of young users. And while erectile dysfunction remains a somewhat taboo topic among young men, it seems to be very common. According to a 2018 study, nearly half of British men in their 30s report difficulty achieving or maintaining an erection. However, like James, young people with erectile dysfunction do not feel it necessary to talk to their doctor about it. “In my role as an NHS (UK National Health Service) GP, I rarely see any men in their twenties or thirties with erectile dysfunction,” says Dr Luke Pratsides, who leads a Men’s Health commercial on the website. also work for “This is because young men do not have access to traditional health care channels and do not want multiple points of contact to discuss sexual function, which can be a difficult topic for many to talk about.”

By avoiding their doctor, men are missing out on a proper diagnosis. James never asked his doctor about the underlying cause of his erectile dysfunction, but he suspects he may be dealing with some level of performance anxiety. It is broadly defined as men who have no problem having sex or masturbating every now and then, but who, like James, take comfort in knowing the pill if they are in a spiral of negativity. If they become trapped, which cancels the erection, they will get help. , “If I was going to have sex with someone for the first time, I’d be worried, so I’d take it,” James says. “But over time I feel more comfortable with that person, and I don’t need it after that.”

According to Peter Saddington, a sex therapist who works in the Department of Andrology at Sheffield Royal Hallamshire Hospital, performance anxiety is a common but lesser-known cause of erectile dysfunction. “Anxiety releases a chemical in the brain that has an adverse effect on erections. It goes against feeling relaxed and sexual,” he explains. The problem is often exacerbated by the excitement of having sex with someone for the first time. “The body interprets the feeling as something closer to anxiety, because you Meeting a new person.”

“At a certain point,” notes Sadington, even sildenafil will stop working. “Viagra doesn’t give you an erection, it just facilitates the natural process, so if the person becomes more anxious, eventually their anxiety can overwhelm the effects of sildenafil.”

James says he always felt anxious about his sexual performance, but even more so 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 tend to obsess and delight in the subtleties of male anatomy,” says James. “They look at girth, length, speed. They discuss everything, and with great pleasure, in front of their friends. That’s why I’ve seen it – at a table with people I’ve had sex with – I know the pressure to deliver good sex.

“There was a little bit of untruth about it. It wasn’t the passionate sex I thought I’d have with someone who isn’t used to it.”

(Getty)

It’s unclear how James’ sexual partners feel about it, because for the most part, he doesn’t tell them. But Wendy, 37, says she will be upset to learn that her boyfriend secretly takes Viagra. “Because I’ll feel like, ah, am I not good enough?” She says. “But then I realized that [la disfunción eréctil] It’s more common as men get older.” To her knowledge, she has had sex with a man taking sildenafil only once: a one-night stand, only to find out later from a mutual friend. Was average, a fact that Wendy attributes to the part of medicine.” There was a little bit of untruth about it. It wasn’t the passionate in-tune sex I think I’ve had with someone who isn’t used to it.”

Viatris, a subsidiary of the pharmaceutical giant Pfizer that makes Viagra, provided some data. independent From a survey of 5,007 people, including 2,445 men, commissioned in 2020. One of the questions he asked was “What are the top three barriers that keep you from being more intimate?” Nine percent of 18-24 year olds and 10 percent of 25-34 year olds listed “sexual problems, for example, trouble getting or keeping an erection” as the main cause. About a third (29 percent) of all men who experienced erectile dysfunction said it was because they were “worried they wouldn’t be able to get or keep an erection.”

However, the underlying causes of erectile dysfunction can be more complex. “Erectile dysfunction is often dismissed as psychological” [o] Stress-related and temporary and self-limiting in young men,” says Dr Lakhani. “However, while psychological causes may play a role, it is important to realize that there may also be medical conditions that cause erectile dysfunction in young men. Mental health disorders, such as depression and anxiety, can cause erectile dysfunction. affect function, either directly or as a side effect of the drugs used to treat them.” Lifestyle factors such as smoking, drinking and obesity can also play a role in the form of heart disease or diabetes, says Dr. Lakhani.

Performance anxiety is often present in erectile dysfunction, he noted, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the cause. Dr. Lakhani suspects that the incidence of erectile dysfunction “may be much higher than has been reported because of the stigma and shame around sexual health issues.” It is important to get a proper diagnosis of the underlying causes of erectile dysfunction.

*Names have been changed

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