You’ve read all about the little blue pill and now you and your partner are thinking about giving it a ‘whirl’. Here, our resident sexpert Dr Helen Webberley, shares her top ten ‘things you should know’ before your partner takes one.
Medicines for erectile dysfunction (impotence), are now widely used and have proven to be very safe, however you must be aware that it may not be right for everyone.
These medicines were originally designed to treat angina, due to the fact that they open up the arteries and increase blood flow to the heart (as well as other areas), but it was noticed that an increase in erections was a common side effect!
If your partner's erections are failing, it is important that they get their other blood vessels checked out, encourage them to ask their GP for a check on their heart, blood pressure, kidneys and cholesterol.
Different medications result in different effects. Some are taken about an hour before sex and last for about eight hours, whereas others can last for an entire weekend. There are some treatments which are taken as a one-off, and others which are taken at a small dose every day, ‘just in case’.
Heavy meals and alcohol can negatively impact the efficacy of these medicines, so they need to go easy on the wining and dining parts of the evening, if they are just about to take one of the pills.
The pills need sexual stimulation in order for them to work properly. If they are not ‘activated’ they do not cause an erection. This applies to the one a day version and also the every day smaller dose. As such your partner doesn’t have to worry about a persistent rise when it is not wanted.
The main side effects of taking drugs for erections are associated with their effect of opening the arteries. They do so in the penis (great) but also in the nose (making it feel stuffy), face (resulting in hot flushes), brain (causing some headaches) and tummy (leading to heartburn). Some men report a blue visual disturbance, but this often settles down relatively quickly.
While it is only licensed for use in men, it is true that in women this medication may also work to increase the blood flow to the clitoris. However, it doesn’t help to create desire or boost sexual arousal, which can be key barriers in female sexual dysfunction.
The pills may not boost your partner's sex drive but, if their symptoms are driven by stress or other psychological issues, knowing that they are physically able to respond to you can greatly improve any negative feelings they may have towards sex. Medication can sometimes be enough to give a small kick to restart your confidence and get them back on track.
Some preparations will soon be available over the counter from your local pharmacy, making it much easier for men to access what they need, when they need it!