Health officials have called off a promising trial that used Viagra to treat
a complication of sickle cell anemia. The study, known as "walk-PHaSST"
(Treatment of Pulmonary Hypertension and Sickle Cell Disease with Sildenafil
Treatment), was stopped dead in its tracks this month. The drug was making
some patients worse instead of better; 38 percent of the subjects
experienced serious side effects, compared to 8 percent of those taking the
The study seemed like a good idea on paper. Sildenafil is
approved under the name Revatio to treat pulmonary hypertension, one of the
major killers of sickle cell patients.
However, a high
number of the patients on Revatio experienced painful "sickle cell crises",
in which sickle-shaped blood cells become backed up in blood
Interestingly, Viagra has had mixed results with regard to
another sickle cell complication: priapism. While Viagra has been known to precipitate priapism in men with sickle cell anemia, the drug has also been shown to relieve the condition in other sickle cell patients when given in a steady low dose.
Ultimately, Viagra may prove to have some
benefit for certain patients with sickle cell anemia, perhaps when combined
with other treatments, but the failure of this study is a major setback.
We live in a strange time. For thousands of years, people have been making and selling concoctions they claimed would cure erectile dysfunction. Dozens of herbs have been touted as a remedy, like yohimbine, ginseng, and even cocaine.
The simple fact is that the results of these attempts were probably, in most cases, little better than a placebo effect. That might very well have been enough to help some men, but most were just wasting their money.
Things are different now. We have three relatively safe FDA-approved pharmaceuticals that treat erectile dysfunction. They don't work sometimes on a hope and a prayer; they actually affect the body's physiology to produce strong, last erections.
In the face of this new, quite revolutionary, change, how do the pushers of potions and tonics react? They co-opt the name "Viagra" and relabel their stuff "Herbal Viagra". Untested, unregulated, uncontrolled; how is this an improvement over a drug used by millions of men worldwide?
The most incredible fact is that many "Herbal Viagra" products actually contain Viagra! The makers sneak in a generic version of sildenafil citrate. So if your "Herbal Viagra" actually works, you're probably just ingesting knock-off Viagra, of unknown dose and quality.
If you suffer from erectile dysfunction and don't want to take drugs, you can try healthy living, exercise, and a good diet. But it's self-deluding to think that an herbal concoction is going to be safer or more effective than Viagra, Cialis, or Levitra.
Many men fear that if they try Viagra, and have success with it, they'll never be able to have sex without it again or they will crave it. They fear that they'll somehow become addicted to it.
Though, like anything, Viagra is open to abuse, concern about becoming addicted or dependent on Viagra isn't warranted. For many man, taking Viagra can improve confidence enough to actually let many men have sex without it. Performance anxiety can cause erectile problems which can cause even worse performance anxiety. Viagra can break this cycle, and in the process, make itself unnecessary.
Those with more severe erectile dysfunction may never be able to have sex without Viagra. For them, though, Viagra isn't likely to become anything more than a natural part of their love life. Since there's no high associated with the drug, and since it doesn't create sexual desire, there's no enticement to take it except when you're feeling frisky to begin with.
For some, they feel like such a "superman" when they take Viagra, they're unwilling to have sex the normal way. This is something of a danger, if only because it makes Viagra a necessity where it otherwise might not be. That's why we recommend that men be honest with their partners about when they take Viagra. Then, whether to take Viagra or not becomes a decision you make together, ensuring the best possible experience for both partners.
My husband took Viagra and I am having a BIG issue. I feel that when he makes
love to me it is because of the pill and not because he loves me... I
might be stupid but I am having big problems accepting it. Age 60, Toronto
In all the excitement men feel over their new-found prowess after taking Viagra, what's often overlooked is the uncertainty their partners often feel. Your concern, far from being stupid, is very common and natural. Let us try to put your mind at ease a bit.
First, it's very important to remember that Viagra doesn't make a man want sex. Your husband doesn't take Viagra and then want to have sex with you; he wants to have sex with you and then takes Viagra to make that possible. Viagra only works on a physical level, not a mental or emotional one. The desire has to be there too.
That said, sometimes men go overboard when they first start taking Viagra, especially if they've suffered from ED for a long time. Finally they are able to get and maintain an erection, and they want to take full advantage of it. They are like a kid who rediscovers a long-forgotten toy; they want to play with it as much as possible. The feelings and needs of their partner can easily get overlooked lost in the excitement.
The best thing to do is share your feelings with him. He probably is expecting you to be as overwhelmed with excitement as he is; he may not realize that any change this dramatic takes some time to adjust to.
Most likely, as the novelty wears off and his confidence returns, you two will get back into a mutually satisfying pattern that meets both of your needs. Some more communication and a little patience will help you both discover that Viagra is only a small part of a loving relationship.