How Viagra changed Erectile Dysfunction perception in the society

In 1991, in a small town in Wales, a group of men gathered at a local hospital to participate in a clinical trial of a new drug developed to treat angina (heart pain). The effect on the heart was moderate, but most men reported an interesting side effect – strong erections. The pharmaceutical company who had ordered the drug – Pfizer – got interested and gave a green light to research the phenomenon. Seven years later, in 1998, Viagra received its license and went on sale. The world would never be the same again.

ViagraBefore Viagra, the issue of erectile dysfunction was almost never talked about. Impotence was a depressing reality for millions of men, and yet they did not dare broach the subject with a doctor. Impotence was considered shameful, a failure, something that a “real man” should never have, a defeat annihilating the male ego. Erectile dysfunction destroyed countless marriages, but it seemed like nothing could be done about it – it was a cross that couples had to bear. While treatments for impotence existed, they were invasive, costly, and ultimately damaging to the tissues.

What’s more, ED was on the rise. After the initial sexual revolution in the 1960s, when it finally became acceptable to talk about sex at all, many more revolutions followed – in technology, communications, economy… Women entered the labour force en masse, creating a serious competition for men. Family companies were replaced by global corporations. Businesses worked 24/7 over the Internet, and men felt under more and more pressure to perform. Overworking, long hours behind the computer, bitter competition at work – all that created stress and anxiety  leading to erectile dysfunction even among younger men.

Changes in lifestyle only made the issue worse. The rise of packaged and processed foods in the West, rich in carbs and fats, and the habit of eating on the go between business meetings put millions of men on a diet full of cholesterol and sugar, which led to problems with heart and circulation and – as a result – erectile dysfunction.

Once Viagra went on the market in 1998, everything changed. Suddenly all newspapers and TV channels were talking about ED. Men finally saw a hope and rushed to their doctors – in the first year after its launch in the US, 10 000 prescriptions were filled every day. In the first ten years, 30 million men in over 120 countries were prescribed Viagra. It was a new sexual revolution.

It is clear that Viagra saved millions of marriages worldwide. In the previous decades (and centuries), men in their 50s and 60s were generally constrained to reading, studying, and perhaps writing memoirs, drifting further away from their wives. Now they could suddenly rekindle the flame, feel virile and young again. It is difficult to imagine how many cases of chronic stress and depression Viagra cured. Moreover, men could take Viagra as often as they needed, since it had no harmful side effects.

Apart from relationships, Viagra certainly saved lives, too. Men are notoriously unwilling to go to doctors and talk about their health. But the desire to get their ED issue solved forced many of them to go to a doctor for the first time in years. Before they could get a prescription for Viagra, they had to do a series of tests – a good physician needs to establish the cause of erectile dysfunction, after all. This way, hundreds of thousands of men were diagnosed with serious illnesses, from heart disease to diabetes – just in time to get treatment.

One issue with Pfizer’s Viagra was its high price – up to 10 dollars for a pill, which made national healthcare authorities in many countries unwilling to include it in health insurance programs. However, in the past few years, as Pfizer’s patents have run out in many countries, we are witnessing yet another revolution – the rise of generic ED medications.

Containing the same active ingredient and just as efficient, generic Viagra pills are affordable to anyone. You don’t have to be a well-to-do manager to get your virility back; competition on the market led to an emergence of large specialized online pharmacies, such as the Canadian Health&Care Mall, which offer the widest possible variety of ED medications. Drugs for erectile dysfunction finally lost their air of exclusivity and became what they should be – an effective treatment for an extremely widespread issue that is available to any man, anywhere in the world.

Viagra has indeed changed the way our world views erectile dysfunction. Now men know that they are not alone with their problem, that millions suffer from it – and that a solution exists. It is not considered shameful anymore to talk about ED – no more than about  flu. Thanks to Viagra, the society is now more open in its attitude towards sexual problems; and  millions of couples are healthier and happier.