Saturday, May 23, 2009

Vexed About Viagra

Every time I see a commercial for Viagra (sildenafil citrate) or other "erectile dysfunction" medications, I grumble. It's not just the side effects and drug interactions, but how the "quick fix" promised by these medications have set back men's sexual health.

Before Pfizer put Viagra on the market, doctors began treatment for erectile dysfunction by determining the cause -- psychological, physiological, or a mix of the two. Often the most common causes are (a) performance anxiety, (b) substance abuse including nicotine, (b) other lifestyle issues such as diet or stress, or (c) diseases affecting blood flow or the nervous system. Since most of these cause being treatable, that means that lots of cases of erectile dysfunction can be successfully treated, and even cured, without the need for special medications. One physician I'm acquainted with informed me that the top three prescriptions he'd give for erectile dysfunction were aerobic exercise, cut back on booze, and quit smoking.

Viagra originally was being developed as a possible treatment for high blood pressure and angina. Wasn't successful for that, but it was found to help men obtain and maintain erections where other treatments had not worked, due to irreversible nerve or blood vessel damage. Prior to that, there weren't many options for such cases. So, given the choice between having an implant put in surgically, or simply taking a pill ... well, you get the idea.

Problem is that Viagra became so successful -- especially with Pfizer's marketing campaign -- that pretty soon it became the treatment of choice. But what about the other treatment options? Well, why bother with changing your lifestyle or treating other underlying causes, when all you have to do is pop a pill? And with the Internet providing Viagra from overseas, without a prescription, why bother even seeing a doctor?

So you can see why I grumble. Too many men are getting these medications, without regard for what's causing their problems in the first place -- kind of like treating every overweight person with diet pills. A good parallel, hm?

The more I read about erectile dysfunction, the more I see it as a symptom more than as a disease unto itself. Likewise it seems this rush to treat so many of our problems with a quick fix -- whether in pill form or some other manifestation -- is part of a larger spiritual problem. We live in a consumer culture which tells us in so many ways that all our troubles can be solved by just buying the right kind of stuff.

Even religious leaders have fallen prey to this idolatry. How many ministries offer "free gifts" in exchange for a donation -- essentially selling stuff to raise money? How many "abstinence-only" programs have been packaged and marketed to schools nationwide, promising a quick fix to the problems of teen pregnancy and STDs? How many congregations focus on "growth plans" like they were a business needing to recruit new customers?

And how strange that both sexuality and spirituality are linked to something priceless which our world needs so much: Love. Think of the world we could create if we closed our wallets and purses, and opened our hearts and minds.

6 comments:

  1. This is all very informative. There is also the golden root complex, a non-prescription 100% natural alternative to viagra. It comes from a herb call Rhodiola rosea, which is why it has no side effects and completely safe to use.

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  2. While it's important to know about alternatives such as this, it's even more important to consider all the facts. Just because a purported treatment is "natural," for example, doesn't mean that it's free from risk. And we also need to be wary of any supposed quick fix -- always check the facts first, and avoid haste in choosing what is best.

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  3. If you are a victim of erectile dysfunction or ED and are eager to get rid of the disorder at the earliest, you should be able to identify the potential causes responsible for your erectile dysfunction before starting off treatment with any medication or therapy. Further, as you visit the causes of ED section of besthealthmed.com, you would get to know that there are definite factors responsible for erectile dysfunction in men, namely, vascular disease, nervous disease, psychological problems, systemic disease et al. But, before treating your ED with any anti-impotence drug, consult the physician properly and use medicines in accordance with his instructions only.

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  4. Dr. Benjamin:

    All well and good, but the pressures of marketing lead make it harder to implement in reality. When consumers press for a "quick fix" and doctors find it easier to write prescriptions to many patients than provide proper treatment to a smaller number, ... what then?

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  5. Headache is a specific side-effect yielded by Viagra, the Pfizer manufactured drug to treat erectile dysfunction in men and hence you may suffer from mild to serious headache as you start using Viagra to treat your erectile dysfunction. However, headaches as well as other side-effects of Viagra are temporary and as such they disappear over a period of time but if you fall prey to any of the side-effects of Viagra, contact the doctor immediately.

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  6. OK, sounds like this blog is getting spammed by those who are making and marketing Viagra.

    Let me make it clear: What I'm "vexed" about here is not side effects, but how this has been marketed as a quick fix.

    If Pfizer want to deal with the problems surrounding Viagra, then educate the doctors about its appropriate use, and to go back to evaluating the possible causes of erectile dysfunction before you prescribe any medication.

    Better yet, consider a moratorium on ads for Viagra, Levitra and Cialis while you clarify for consumers and doctors when it's right to use their products, and when other methods are better.

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