The stigma that may have previously existed with men and erectile dysfunction (ED) – in addition to seeking help and requesting treatment for impotence – could finally be eroding, as new data show a dramatic rise in prescriptions for the little blue pill Viagra, its generic version (sildenafil), and other erectile dysfunction medications.
Figures from taken from NHS Digital show that during 2016 there were an incredible 2,958,199 prescriptions issued for Viagra and other erectile dysfunction medications such as Cialis and Levitra. In comparison, there were 2,540,494 prescriptions handed out in 2015 and just 1,042,431 back in 2006.
The rise may be down to a number of factors. It could be that men are now less embarrassed to seek help for sexual dysfunction issues such as impotence or premature ejaculation, and now feel more comfortable than ever about speaking to their GP or seeking assistance from legitimate registered online pharmacies such as Medical Specialists®.
Another important factor to be taken into account is the fact that Viagra’s patent came to an end in 2013, meaning there are now other drug manufacturers able to produce an ED treatment containing sildenafil – Viagra’s active ingredient, and sell the medication for a fraction of the price of Pfizer’s branded Viagra.
For example, Medical Specialists® can supply sildenafil TEVA, sildenafil Actavis, or other generic sildenafil
for far less cost to patients than Viagra – as much as around half the price, although the latter has been on the market for nearly two decades now and remains the number one choice for men experiencing ED.
Moreover, there is also online pharmacies to take into account. Although evidence suggests Google are still showing illegal/fake online pharmacies
in their search results there are still some genuine and fully registered online pharmacies in existence, like Medical Specialists®.
Whether it be convenience of use or simply being unable to book a doctor’s appointment, many patients do turn to the internet in the current day and age. Dr Seth Rankin, GP and chief executive of the London Doctors Clinic, commented he was aware there are young men buying ED pills from the internet.
“We see a number of guys who take it recreationally and we might get a sideways question like 'my mates are using it – is there any harm’?
“You don't get people coming in and asking for it directly, most get information from friends and order it online.”
Dr Rankin added that some men felt under pressure to perform in the bedroom after watching too much pornography
, whereas some took ED medications to try and combat the effects of drugs and alcohol, both known contributors to impotence.
“It's the same thing as steroid use in gyms, they are usually a bit worried about taking it and want to check it's okay,” he added.
What men say about ED
The Guardian yesterday published an excellent article
that features some of their male readers discussing their ED, the treatments they have tried, and their experience of obtaining said treatments. The detailed accounts from the men help to shed some further light onto the subject of if a stigma still exists around seeking help for erectile dysfunction. Here is a selection of some of the comments. Note that The Guardian state that the names have been changed:
‘Talk about it and don’t bottle things up’ – Philip, 67, living in France
A lot of men still feel inadequate if they suffer from erectile dysfunction, so won’t discuss the subject with a doctor even though this should be their first port of call.
I switched from Cialis to sildenafil [Viagra] because the former gave me a headache, but the latter doesn’t. Also, sildenafil costs less. Living in France, this medication is not cheap, so I have an account with a UK-based online medical consultancy, which is regulated and reliable.
If erectile dysfunction is a problem then talk about it with your partner and then your GP. In my case, it was age-related. Second, Viagra is not an aphrodisiac. You need good stimulation from your partner to achieve an erection. Third, Viagra is not for younger men who don’t have erectile dysfunction. Fourth, take it with water not with grapefruit juice as it can lead to a big drop in blood pressure. Last, talk about it and don’t bottle things up.
There are thousands of dodgy website selling erectile dysfunction medication which men will use to avoid talking about the problem. Don’t use these websites. There are reputable services in the UK. But, if you can go via your GP to the NHS, all the better.
‘Viagra has been a real life-changer for me’ – Mark, 55, from Berkshire
I suffer from multiple sclerosis which is why I am prescribed Viagra. I never felt a stigma about taking it but guess that some men without a specific medical reason may still feel some.
My GP can only prescribe four pills per month on NHS so I need to buy additional from the internet. I have probably bought from a dozen suppliers on the web before and have always received a legitimate product at a fraction of the private price. As with everything you need to take note of vendor reviews and feedback. Maybe I’ve just been lucky.
When I started taking Viagra, many years ago now, it made an enormous difference to my quality of life and the quality and stability of my relationship. It was a real life-changer.
‘My GP said he was prescribing it more and more’ – Ian, 67, from Dorset
Since I was prescribed Viagra I mentioned it to several friends and found that most (80% of a statistically useless sample) either had used it or were taking it. This is men of all ages, from their mid-50s to over 70. I also know of one younger guy who takes it, an acquaintance in the gym.
My GP said that he was prescribing it more and more and one of my friends didn’t bother with the doctor but went straight to an internet site to obtain it. He used the same site for extra supplies as the NHS limits you to four tablets every 28 days.
‘I suspect the stigma will stop some men from getting it and lead to depression’ – Ben, 47, from London
I told my partner and she was very supportive, but she thinks I take it now and then. I would be too embarrassed to tell her how often I take it – basically every time we have sex. It is embarrassing. There is stigma. I use an online pharmacy and pay more than I should. My NHS GP was supportive but totally impractical. They gave me a prescription for four tablets at a time and this meant I was constantly going to the local GP for appointments to collect repeat prescriptions.
It should be cheaper and easier to get it in the NHS. I buy sildenafil and one side-effect has been I no longer take antidepressants. My sex life is great and it’s helped me feel better about myself. I would much rather take Viagra or an equivalent than an antidepressant. I suspect the stigma will stop other men doing this and lead to depression.
‘The stigma is more in my own mind than in reality’ – Ken, 64, from Nottingham
I think stigma is probably getting less but it’s not something that comes into general conversation. I imagine that people like myself have no second thoughts about using Viagra because there is a need to maintain relationships, or in my case make new ones following a divorce. It is a godsend.
I got erectile dysfunction as a result of a mixture of medical and psychological causes. I was reluctant to tell my partner at first but when it came to light I was chastised only for thinking that I needed to hide it at all. So there is a degree of stigma more in my own mind than in reality.