Why Young Men Turn to Viagra

“When you accept it, you can focus on enjoying sex and being in the moment” (Getty Images)

After a five-year relationship broke up, James was worried about dating again. He was 27 years old, healthy and had a good sex life. And when it came to sleeping with new people, she experienced “performance anxiety.” “I couldn’t handle it,” she says. “I’ve gotten to the point where I’ve had sex with a lot of people with a 75 percent error rate.” James thought the problem was just nerves. He did not ask his doctor for advice. Instead, he started self-medicating with sildenafil – better known as Viagra. It worked immediately.

“When you get it, you can actually focus on enjoying sex and being in the moment,” she says, as opposed to thinking, “Oh my God, my d*** is failing. At! At! Don’t stop! Keep going.” !” But when he started dating someone new, James needed more of the drug. Wanting to make sure he wasn’t disappointed, and feeling like they were going to have sex, James decided to “double up” on two 100 mg pills. was not there, fell asleep next to him.

“I felt like my penis was about to explode,” says James. “I’m incredibly weak.” As he stares into the darkness, he remembers the blood capillaries on the surface of his eyes. He was very uncomfortable. “I had to pee,” he says, “so I peed about two or three meters away to get him down the toilet.”

Now in his thirties, James still takes Viagra regularly. He never told his partner what he had done. And in this case, he is not alone. He estimates that half of his male friends have told him they take Viagra, and he suspects that he takes even more in secret. Some, like 27-year-old Josh, admit to taking it as a recreational drug to enhance their sexual experience – “I tried it and I was 14 again.” The pill is often associated with older men. But now more and more men under 50 are taking sildenafil.

Possible side effects include reduced effectiveness over time as well as serious side effects. “Long-term use of Viagra increases the risk of psychological dependence, as well as various problems affecting the auditory and visual systems and vision,” says Dr. Shireen Lakhani, an erectile dysfunction specialist at his private clinic in London. . “Short-term serious side effects include very rare cases of stroke and heart attack, as well as diarrhea and gastritis.”

the figures have been released The Independent Pharmaceutical company Viatris revealed that Viagra Connect sold more than seven million tablets in the UK between May 2020 and May 2021. According to Viatris, more than 60 percent of UK users are aged 25-54.

What is clear to me is that women in their thirties are obsessed with the details of the male anatomy.

The drug is much more accessible than it used to be because of the easing of controls around its sale. Viagra Connect is an over-the-counter form; It was released in 2018. It’s become so popular that Boots announced last month that it was launching a generic version that will cost less than the big brand. Generic sildenafil can also be bought online with a prescription, which can be easily obtained by answering a short consultation. “Our traditional base of erectile dysfunction is nine percent in their twenties and 21 percent in their thirties,” says Abbas Kanani, an online pharmacist.

This adds a lot of young users. Although erectile dysfunction is still a somewhat taboo subject among young people, it seems to be very common. According to a 2018 study, nearly half of British men in their thirties report having trouble getting or maintaining an erection. But, like James, guys with erectile dysfunction don’t necessarily talk about it with their doctor. “In my role as an NHS GP, I rarely see men in their twenties and thirties with erectile dysfunction,” says Dr Luke Pratsides, who works for the for-profit men’s health website. “This is likely because young men are not accessing traditional health care channels and may not want to have multiple points of contact to discuss sexual function, which is difficult for many to say.”

By bypassing the doctor, men miss the correct diagnosis. James has never asked his doctor about the root cause of his erectile dysfunction, but he suspects that he is experiencing some degree of performance anxiety. This is generally defined as men who don’t necessarily experience problems every time they have sex or masturbate, but like James, the pill helps and comforts them. negative spiral. “If it’s the first time I’m going to sleep with someone, I’m nervous, so I take it,” says James. “But over time, I get comfortable around them, and then I don’t need him anymore.”

Performance anxiety is a common but under-discussed cause of erectile dysfunction, according to sex therapist Peter Saddington, who works in the andrology department at Sheffield Royal Hallamshire Hospital. “Anxiety releases a chemical in the brain that has a negative effect on erections. It’s against feeling free and sexual,” he explains. The problem is often exacerbated by the excitement of having sex with someone for the first time. “The body interprets excitement as anxiety because you’re meeting a new person.”

“At a certain point,” Saddington notes, even sildenafil stops working. “Viagra does not give an erection; it facilitates this natural process, so if you become increasingly anxious, your anxiety may eventually override the effects of sildenafil.”

James says he’s always worried about his sexuality – especially with a new partner – and remembers the first time he overheard some of his female friends talking about sex. “What is clear to me is that women in their thirties are obsessed with the details of the male anatomy,” says James. “It’s like spin, length, movement. They are all enjoying themselves in front of their friends. So I know how much pressure there is to have good sex, sitting at the table with people I actually sleep with.

“There was something a little fake about it. It was unrelated, passionate sex, I think it was with someone she wasn’t with” (Getty)

It’s unclear how James’ sexual partners feel about this, as he usually doesn’t tell them. But Wendy, 37, says she would be unhappy if her boyfriend found out she was secretly taking Viagra. “Because I feel like, oh, I’m not enough?” he says. “But I understand that [erectile dysfunction] more common as children get older.’ According to her, she had only had sex with a man taking sildenafil once: a one-night stand, which she later found out about from a friend. Sexually mediocre, Wendy is partly addicted to drugs. “There was something a little artificial about it. It was unrelated, passionate sex, and I think I had it with someone I wasn’t with.’

Viatris, a subsidiary of pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, which manufactures Viagra, provided some information The Independent From a survey of 5,007 people, including 2,445 men, they entered the service in 2020. One of the questions they asked was: “What are the top three obstacles that prevent you from becoming closer?” Nine percent of 18- to 24-year-olds and 10 percent of 25- to 34-year-olds identified “sexual problems, such as struggling to get or maintain an erection” as the main reason. Almost one-third (29 percent) of men who experience erectile dysfunction say it’s because they “worry about not being able to get or keep an erection.”

The underlying causes of erectile dysfunction can be more complex. “Erectile dysfunction is often psychological/stress-related in young men and is not considered temporary and self-limiting,” says Dr. Lakhani. “However, while psychological factors may play a part, it’s important to understand that young men can also have medical conditions that cause ED. Mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety can affect erectile function either directly or as a side effect of medications used to treat them. Lifestyle factors such as smoking, drinking and obesity also play a role, says Dr. Lakhani, as does cardiovascular disease or diabetes.

He notes that performance anxiety is often associated with 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 reported because of the stigma and shame surrounding sexual health problems.” It is important to get the correct diagnosis for the underlying causes of erectile dysfunction.

*Names have been changed

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