The co-authors of Invasion of the Prostate Snatchers, blog alternate posts weekly. We invite you to post your comments.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Value of a Single erection


For many men who have trouble achieving potency— keeping an erection firm enough for sex—erection dysfunction (ED) medications--Viagra, Cialis, Levitra--work well and cause few side effects.

Sildenfil (Viagra), vardenfil (Levitra), and tadalafil (Cialis) are all medications that reverse ED by increasing nitric oxide, a chemical naturally produced by the body that opens and relaxes the blood vessels in the penis. While helping to get and keep an erection, these medications do not increase sex drive, and only cause erections if you are sexually stimulated.

In an article in My Generation magazine, Hal Ackerman wrote that after 12 months of hormone-deprivation therapy, his libido was totally gone, an empty balloon, with the result that women whose bodies in the past would have stimulated longing and desire, generated no more response than the sight of uncovered furniture. However Ackerman claims that “via the miracle of modern pharmacology” he was able to perform sex with his new girlfriend for her pleasure—though with little personal gratification.

Although they work in similar ways, each of the ED medications has a slightly different chemical make-up. These minor differences affect the way each medication works, such as how quickly it takes effect and wears off, as well as the potential side effects.

Viagra and Levitra can be taken without food, no more than once a day, about 30-50 minutes before sex, and are effective up to 5 hours. Cialis can be taken as a small daily dose, anytime, with or without food, and is effective anytime between doses. The 36 hour Cialis can be taken with or without food, no more than once a day, about 30 minutes before sex, and is effective for up to 36 hours.

Not all men can take these ED medications. They may not be safe if you have any kind of heart problems, high or low blood pressure that is not controlled, a history of stroke within the last six months, eye problems, severe liver disease, or kidney disease. Always check with your doctor, and be sure he knows any other drugs you are taking as ED medications can interact dangerously with a number of other drugs—including alpha blockers, antibiotics, anti-seizure drugs, blood thinners, and various heart medications. And a final caveat: as I wrote in a previous blog, if you have had a prostatectomy, ED medications only work if the nerves located close to the prostate have not been removed or damaged.

Most men who take Viagra, Levitra or Cialis are not bothered by side effects, but when they do occur they can include headache, flushing (Viagra and Levitra), indigestion, stuffy or runny nose, back pain and muscle aches (Cialis), temporary vision changes (Viagra and Levitra), and rarely, dizziness or fainting. Also rarely, priapism (an erection that doesn’t go away) can occur and requires medical treatment.

ED medications can be purchased over the Internet, but beware of scams. Check to see if an online pharmacy is legitimate—never order drugs if the pharmacy gives no phone number, if prices seem too good to be true, or if you are told no prescription is necessary. Make sure you get the exact dose and type prescribed by your doctor. And don’t be fooled into buying “herbal” or non-prescription equivalents. They are not as effective, and some can contain harmful substances. You may find yourself paying as much as $20 per dose. But then some of us would consider the restoration of potency a bargain at twice the price.

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