Editor’s note: We understand that not all our readers will feel comforatable with the subject matter of the following article, but it is an issue for many couples and we felt it important to address it.
Best friends can talk about anything, but some topics can be a little touchy. So, when my friend Mary asked if I had any of those little blue pills in my purse, I was somewhat surprised! I blushed and mumbled that my husband Topher didn’t have any problems in that department. While erectile dysfunction is not an issue for every couple, for others the condition spells an end of the intimacy of a physical relationship. But today, due to drugs like Viagra, this doesn’t have be the case. It’s been proven that erectile dysfunction drugs have made it possible for seniors, depending on their physical health to enjoy a vibrant sex life.
Erectile dysfunction (ED) can occur at any age but as a man ages, his impairment can increase. Statistics have shown that 40 percent of men in their late sixties suffer from this problem. This condition occurs when not enough blood flows to the penis preventing an erection. Viagra works by relaxing the blood vessels so that more blood can flow to the penis allowing a man to attain and maintain an erection.
Originally Viagra was used to treat Pulmonary Heart Disease and researchers discovered an interesting side effect. It was found that the drug could be used as an effective treatment for erectile dysfunction and doctors quickly realized what a benefit this could be to an adult’s sexual health. When Viagra was launched in 1998 it changed everything in the bedroom and became one of the fastest selling new drugs. Coined the ‘love drug’ the pace of early sales was almost unprecedented: Viagra was being prescribed at the breathtaking rate of 10,000 prescriptions a day.
“Viagra starts to work in 30-60 minutes and can be effective for up to four hours, leaving plenty of time to be spontaneous with your partner”, said Dr. Shannon Dutchyn, a Langley physician.
In 2003, new drugs were developed that worked in a similar way as Viagra and shortly after Viagra appeared on the market, it was followed by a new drug called Cialis. Cialis differed in that instead of working for only a few hours, a man could take Cialis up to 36 hours prior to attempting sexual intercourse. This coined the drug the nickname the weekend pill.
But like any drug, side effects can occur. Men have reported experiencing vision problems that ranged from a slight blurring to seeing the world in various shades of blue! The most common side effects are headaches and nasal congestion. “If the side effects are intolerable, the drug should be stopped,” said Dr. Dutchyn. “But most patients can try a different brand if they experience an unpleasant side effect.” she explained. A very rare side effect is priapism. This is a painful condition where a man will experience an erection lasting four hours or more. It is a medical emergency so if this happens, visit the nearest emergency department, to avoid causing permanent damage,” added Dr. Dutchyn.
While ED drugs allow older couples to enjoy a physical relationship, the bad news is that they are not for everyone. If a man has had a heart attack or stroke, it may prohibit him from taking Viagra. If he is taking medication containing nitrates, such as nitroglycerin, he should not use Viagra. Taken together they can lower the blood pressure.
It is also true that for older diabetic men, the risk could outweigh the reward. Some men with decreased kidney and liver function can take the drug as long as they are being monitored by their doctor. “Renal function can be watched with a simple blood test.” said Dr. Dutchyn.
If you decide to try Viagra, your first stop should be a visit to your family doctor to get a checkup. He or she will determine if this drug is for you.
If you and your doctor have decided that taking Viagra is a good choice, the next thing is to is to figure out the best way to use it. Viagra’s website offers some advice to achieve the best results. They encourage you to set the mood by turning the lights down low and enjoying a candlelight dinner. Your results may be better if you keep your alcohol consumption to a minimum and eat smart. A large heavy meal laden with fat will interfere with the drug’s efficacy and you’ll feel sluggish. The website also suggests that if at first you don’t succeed, to keep on trying. You will get there.
Mary and Fred are in their 80’s and they’ve been happily married for over 50 years. When they arrived late for my dinner party, I asked them what kept them. They looked at each other and smiled.