What Happened When I Tried Viagra?

And why do men get to have all the fun?

Carlyn Beccia
Dec 14, 2020 · 5 min read
Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

Jack* and I had a fabulous sex life. The kind of sex filled with quiet and loud moments. We found that sweet spot between serenity and suspense.

But as the months wore on, something came between us—something…persistent.

Jack had a neverending erection.

Ok, maybe not neverending. But as soon as he came…it was Lazarus dick five minutes later.

Now, I know what you are thinking. Groundhog Day sex sounds like a good problem to have, right? But who has time to have sex for three hours? I don’t. And while I have come up with some creative excuses for missing book deadlines, my “boyfriend’s erection is keeping me up at night” wasn’t going to fly. (If my editor is reading this…that was a joke. All my excuses are real. Even the one about the incurable skin rash.)

So one day, I asked him, “Hey, Babe…What’s with your erections lately?”

Jack was an honest man. He knew lying was futile, so he immediately confessed. He was taking the little blue pill.

I was shocked. I guess I never suspected erectile dysfunction (ED) drugs because Jack certainly didn’t need them. He was 35. Healthy. And I had communicated over and over to him how much I enjoyed our sex life.

But if he was taking it without a need, why couldn’t I?

And so with a few crackers and a brave gulp…I tried Viagra.

Since Jack was a physician, he warned me that it would probably not work. He also warned me about the side effects. I was not prepared for what followed.

A few hours later, my head felt like it had detached from my body and was leaving me to find someone not dumb enough to take ED medicine. Beads of clammy sweat wet my forehead, and nausea washed over me. And then my heart raced…

“If I die, your medical career is over!” I joked.

I tend to use humor to lighten the mood, but I was actually terrified. How would he explain to my very Catholic family that my heart stopped because of my craven desire to have the world’s longest-lasting lady boner? Awkward.

And he had warned me about the heart palpitations. Viagra was never even intended to treat erectile dysfunction. The blue pill, called sildenafil, was first patented in 1996 to treat hypertension (high blood pressure) and angina pectoris (chest pain due to heart disease.)

But during clinical trials, the drug had an unforeseen side effect — men with chest pain got some serious hard-ons.

The reason for this unplanned side effect is because ED drugs are Phosphodiesterase-5 (PDE5) Inhibitors. These drugs work by blocking PDE5 — the enzyme that allows blood to leave the penis when an erection subsides. When this enzyme is blocked…voila, the penis stays engorged with blood and hard.

Its makers, Pfizer, saw dollar signs. A lot of campy ED commercials followed. And the rest is history.

To this day, Viagra has had the fastest-growing initial sales of any prescription drug. It turns out heart pain and high blood pressure are far less of a problem than impotence.

As for me, heart palpitation was a HUGE problem. I laid down and waited for the sickness to pass. And no, I did not have the urge to procreate in this medical experiment turned awry.

It took about four hours (yes, that long) for my head to finally clear. And then I made the bold proclamation, “I swear by the Vestal Virgins that even if my lady bits shrivel up, I will never take ED drugs again.”

Unfortunately, it may be easy to keep that dubious promise. Women still don’t have a “female Viagra.”

Why is low sex drive a “dysfunction” in men and a “disorder” in women?

Why female Viagra works as well as doing housework

It’s a running joke in medical research that if it involves a man’s penis, no amount of research dollars shall be spared. Women’s sexuality…not as lucrative. So it shouldn’t come as any surprise that although more women complain about low sex drive than men, there’s been little headway on treating it. One in three women has a low sex drive.

This might also be why it took over twenty years for women to get their “little pink pill.”

In 2015, the FDA approved its first drug for women with low sex drive — Addyi. And in 2019, an injectable — Vyleesi — was approved. Both are designed to treat hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD). According to the FDA, Vyleesi treats “HSDD that occurs regardless of the type of sexual activity, situation, or partner.”

Regardless of sexual activity or partner? Ahem... Too bad no one told the drug manufacturers that a woman’s sexual partner makes a BIG difference in our desire for sex.

You might be asking another obvious question — why is low sex drive a “dysfunction” in men and a “disorder” in women?

The answer — while ED is a relatively uncomplicated plumbing problem, the female sex drive is more mysterious than the riddle of the Sphynx. When a woman experiences low sex drive, it is often due to her brain, not her body, putting on the breaks.

This is why Vyleesi and Addyi work by altering brain chemistry and not your physiology. Vyleesi activates melanocortin receptors, and Addyi targets serotonin receptors. Drug manufacturers hoped that by altering this delicate brain chemistry, women would desire sex more.

Unfortunately, clinical trials have been discouraging. Only 25% of female participants experienced an increase in sexual desire compared to 17% who received the placebo. Your man doing dishes has about the same results.

That’s not exactly Viagra level success either. In contrast, Viagra works in 75% of men. But oddly, not in pandas. (Don’t ask me how I know this.)

Vyleesi also has its share of side effects — headaches, vomiting, and nausea. I don’t know about you, but there’s something unromantic about vomiting on my partner before sex.

Second, while GP’s give out blue pills like candy, good luck finding a doctor to prescribe Vyleesi or Addyi. And there might be a reason for that.

Personally, my advice to men who want to get their lady in the mood, try the old standby of dinner, wine, and good conversation. But whatever you do, keep your blue pills to yourself.

*Names changed to protect bad ex-boyfriends who should have never given their sweet and innocent (yet curious) girlfriend a pill not designed for women!

Fearless She Wrote

This is a space to empower differences, tell our stories…

Carlyn Beccia

Written by

Author & illustrator. Editor of The Grim Historian. My latest books — MONSTROUS: THE LORE, GORE, & SCIENCE and THEY LOST THEIR HEADS. Contact: CarlynBeccia.com

Fearless She Wrote

This is a space to empower differences, tell our stories, and share our lives together. We will not be silenced. We will be fearless. And we will write.

Carlyn Beccia

Written by

Author & illustrator. Editor of The Grim Historian. My latest books — MONSTROUS: THE LORE, GORE, & SCIENCE and THEY LOST THEIR HEADS. Contact: CarlynBeccia.com

Fearless She Wrote

This is a space to empower differences, tell our stories, and share our lives together. We will not be silenced. We will be fearless. And we will write.

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