The reasons why thousands of young men are resorting to Viagra (2022)

The phrase 'drug-fuelled sex' has a very different meaning for 23-year-old student Greg Banks compared with the popular perception of it.

For rather than indicating outrageous behaviour, Greg needs to take Viagra to 'guarantee' performance.

He started using the drug when he was 18, because he 'had problems with sex' if he was drinking on a night out, and now takes it three times a week.

Now, Greg, who has had only two long-term girlfriends, says he would like to stop taking Viagra. 'It's costing me about £250 a year, which isn't great when you're a student, but I think I've become psychologically dependent on it,' he admits.

A recent survey of 5,000 people carried out for Upjohn, the maker of Viagra Connect, found that 18 per cent of 18-24-year-old men had erection difficulties. (Stock image)

Greg, who lives in Slough, Berkshire, and is in the final year of a degree in film studies at a Northern university, is just one of a growing wave of young men affected by erection problems.

A recent survey of 5,000 people carried out for Upjohn, the maker of Viagra Connect, the over-the-counter version of the drug, showed that 18 per cent of 18-24-year-old men had erection difficulties. This echoes what clinicians are seeing.

'I have been in this field for 27 years and 20 per cent of my erectile-dysfunction patients are now aged under 30, compared with two per cent 20 years ago,' says Lorraine Grover, a specialist nurse from the Sexual Advice Association.

'I'm seeing boys as young as 16, and quite a lot of young men in their 20s.'

This has worrying implications, as while many of the new generation of teenage and young adult Viagra users are otherwise physically fit males such as Greg, who use it as a prop to ensure sexual performance, others are suffering sexual difficulties and impotence caused by obesity and obesity-related type 2 diabetes.

This is a problem previously seen only in much older patients, and it's causing concern, says Ian Eardley, a professor of urology at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust.

(Video) More Young Men Taking Viagra

However, there are multiple reasons why young men may be affected by problems in the bedroom, including the rising use of pornography, binge drinking and drug- taking, as these mean they need more stimulation to make anything happen.

Doctors are now increasingly aware that erectile dysfunction (ED) might be a sign of underlying disease — and fear that young men may be self-prescribing Viagra. As a result, the real cause of their issues remains untreated, despite it being treatable.

'There's no doubt that type 2 diabetes causes it and a 30-year-old diabetic is at least twice or three times as likely as a non-diabetic to suffer from erectile dysfunction,' says Professor Eardley.

Studies suggest the problem is widespread. In 2015, doctors at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, screened 1,417 men aged 20 and above and found that more than 11 per cent of those with erectile dysfunction had undiagnosed diabetes.

Meanwhile, the author of a review of studies in 2017, which found that 30 per cent of men aged over 18 were affected by impotence, suggested that weak erections 'might be a sign of early cardiovascular risk in young men'.

Writing in the journal Sexual Medicine Reviews in 2017, Wayne Hellstrom, a professor of urology at Tulane University in New Orleans and a former president of the Sexual Medicine Society of North America, suggested that rather than reaching for Viagra, young men with ED should be going to the doctor.

Doctors are now increasingly aware that erectile dysfunction (ED) might be a sign of underlying disease. (Stock image)

The now universally recognised 'little blue pill' was launched 22 years ago as the first effective erectile dysfunction treatment and became the world's best- selling drug.

The treatment (the chemical name is sildenafil) was originally developed by British scientists for patients with heart disease.

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(Video) Men Are Taking More Viagra Than Ever - Zack Telander | Modern Wisdom Podcast 510

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It works by relaxing the smooth muscles in the walls of blood vessels to increase blood flow.

A side-effect, which has now become the main purpose of its use, is that this also allows greater quantities of blood to flow into the penis during arousal, and produces a stronger and longer-lasting erection.

In 2018, Viagra was declared safe enough to be made available over the counter.

Those wanting to buy the pills have to complete a basic online questionnaire which, according to Greg, simply involves a level of judicious fabrication about the severity of the problem.

The pills, which cost around £5 each, are made available for collection within a couple of days.

(Video) Goodfellow Unit Webinar: Sexual dysfunction in men - when Viagra doesn't work

Yet, according to doctors, the biggest cause of ED is type 2 diabetes — so rather than using Viagra, many men may instead benefit from losing weight.

There are around 4.2 million people with type 2 diabetes in Britain, and an estimated one million who are living with the condition but who haven't yet had a formal diagnosis.

'Around 30 per cent of men with diabetes will have some kind of erectile dysfunction in their lifetime,' says Luke Pratsides, a GP who works for Numan, an online men's health service, adding that 'the rise of obesity and diabetes are the most significant causes' of the problem.

Men with diabetes are three times more likely to have the problem, confirms Douglas Twenefour, deputy head of care at Diabetes UK and a visiting lecturer at London Metropolitan University.

According to data from NHS Digital, almost 60 per cent of 25-year-old men in Britain are considered overweight and significant numbers will have type 2 diabetes or so-called metabolic syndrome.

'With obesity comes metabolic syndrome, high blood pressure and high levels of harmful fats in the blood,' adds Dr Pratsides.

'Many men develop abdominal fat which makes people resistant to insulin [the hormone that tells the body to remove sugar from the blood] and that leads to type 2 diabetes.

'That, in turn, damages blood vessels which causes problems in the penis, the eyes and the kidneys. The more obese people there are, the bigger the problem is going to be,' he says.

'Diabetes and metabolic syndrome are, undoubtedly, the best understood biochemical causes of erectile dysfunction and they are entirely treatable.'

However, young men may not realise this is what lies at the root of their problem, suggests Ms Grover: 'We hear about the problems of obesity and the risks for lung and heart function, but we aren't hearing people talk about erectile dysfunction.'

Mr Twenefour says Diabetes UK produced guidelines for GPs as long as seven years ago, alerting them to the need to ask diabetic patients of all ages if they are experiencing sexual problems, but many still don't do it.

'It may be lack of time or that they feel awkward talking about it or because they're not aware of specialist services that patients can be referred to,' he says.

Experts firmly believe more needs to be done to encourage young men to seek help for any erection problems they have rather than reaching for a drug, even though Viagra is remarkably free of side-effects.

(Video) How and When to take Viagra (Sildenafil) | What Patients Need to Know

'Viagra is like putting a plaster on the problem,' says Ms Grover. 'We need to look at what's causing it if we're going to manage it longer term.'

Dr Pratsides adds: 'The causes of ED are typically lifestyle diseases — that can be treated by making healthy lifestyle choices.'

Greg Banks is a pseudonym.

FAQs

Why are so many men taking Viagra? ›

Some studies have suggested that younger men who take Viagra take it to deal with psychological barriers , including stress and anxiety surrounding sex such as “performance anxiety.” Others take it recreationally to aid in sexual encounters among men as essentially a party drug that can increase sexual performance.

Is Viagra good for young men? ›

Although Viagra can be a safe and effective sexual performance aid if taken responsibly and from a reliable source, in young men it can lead to complications, and symptoms can usually be corrected by locating and rectifying the underlying issue.

What is the most common cause of ED in young men? ›

ED becomes more of a risk with age, but it is relatively common in younger males. Stress, anxiety, and factors such as stress and smoking can contribute to ED at any age, while physical factors, such as high blood pressure, are more likely to contribute to ED in older adults.

Why are young people using Viagra? ›

In his practice, he notes that young men often seek Viagra because of performance anxiety. "These are often men who are anxious about new relationships and can't perform.

At what age do men start needing Viagra? ›

This study also noted a strong link between age and erectile dysfunction. Specifically, less than 2% of men who reported erection problems said that they first started before they were 40 years old, and only 4% said that they first started between 40 and 49 years of age.

What age does a man stop getting a hard on? ›

The answer to the question, “what age does a man stop getting hard?” is simple: it doesn't exist. Some men in their 90s can still get erections without any trouble, while many men in their 20s struggle with erectile dysfunction.

Can girls take Viagra? ›

When used in women, Viagra is thought to raise blood flow to the genitals so that there's more sensitivity and stimulation. Studies have shown that Viagra may provide a benefit for women having difficulty with sexual arousal — since it may help them respond better to sexual stimulation.

What happens if a kid takes Viagra? ›

Conclusion: Pediatric ingestion of sildenafil may result in mild symptoms including persistent flushing and penile engorgement with associated pain. Penile pain may persist even after resolution of the erection.

Can you take Viagra for fun? ›

Viagra is a medical treatment, not a recreational drug. Using ED meds for fun isn't a good idea and can raise your risk of experiencing side effects, especially if you take the drug with other recreational drugs or alcohol.

What causes a young man to not get hard? ›

Job-related stress, money, and other life events can contribute to ED, too. Relationship problems such as poor communication with a partner can also cause sexual dysfunction in both males and females. Substance use disorder is another common cause of ED among young males.

Is there a natural way to fix erectile dysfunction at a young age? ›

But lifestyle changes and other natural treatments can also help improve ED.
  1. What are some natural remedies for treating erectile dysfunction? There are many natural treatments for ED. ...
  2. Diet. ...
  3. Exercise. ...
  4. Sleep. ...
  5. Weight loss. ...
  6. Psychotherapy. ...
  7. Sex therapy or couples counseling. ...
  8. Stress reduction.

Does Viagra Help performance anxiety? ›

ED Medications

ED drugs like sildenafil (Viagra®, generic Viagra), tadalafil (Cialis®), and avanafil (Stendra®) can also be used in sexual performance anxiety treatment as a way to provide more confidence for men with sexual performance concerns.

How old do you have to be to buy Viagra? ›

No-one under the age of 18 can buy it, although women might be able to buy it on behalf of their partner if the pharmacist is satisfied it is appropriate to dispense it. And it will not be sold to men who are not medically fit enough to have sex.

What happens if you take Viagra and you don't need it? ›

You shouldn't take Viagra or medications like it without a prescription. It's risky due to side effects, possible contaminants in illegal pills, and the risk of developing ED. Some women may experience more sexual desire from taking Viagra, especially if their sexual dysfunction is caused by antidepressants.

How many times does a man get hard? ›

People with penises have an average of 11 erections per day and three to five more each night, but everyone is different. There are numerous factors that can affect how often you get hard, like your age, hormone levels, and lifestyle.

How often do 80 year olds make love? ›

For people in their 80s, 19% of sexually active men and 32% of sexually active women had sex at least twice a month. According to the International Society for Sexual Medicine, the 2010 National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior found almost 25% of partnered women over age 70 had sex more than four times a week.

Why does a man get erect in the morning? ›

Hormone shifts

Your testosterone level is at its highest in the morning after you wake up. It is highest immediately after waking up from the rapid eye movement (REM) sleep stage. The increase in this hormone alone may be enough to cause an erection, even in the absence of any physical stimulation.

What foods help you get hard? ›

Here are some foods that can help you stay erect and support a medically sound erectile dysfunction treatment.
  • Watermelon. Watermelon contains citrulline, another precursor to nitric acid. ...
  • Spinach and Other Leafy Greens. ...
  • Coffee. ...
  • Dark Chocolate. ...
  • Salmon. ...
  • Pistachios. ...
  • Almonds, Walnuts, and Other Nuts. ...
  • Oranges and Blueberries.
21 Jul 2021

What's the name of female Viagra? ›

The FDA has approved a daily pill called flibanserin (Addyi) — originally developed as an antidepressant — as a treatment for low sexual desire in premenopausal women. Addyi may boost sex drive in women with low sexual desire who find the experience distressing.

Does Viagra work with alcohol? ›

Can alcohol make Viagra not work? Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol (15 or more drinks per week) can put you at a higher risk of side effects from Viagra. Alcohol abuse can also counteract the effects of Viagra by slowing certain functions of the body, including blood flow. This may make Viagra less effective.

How Much Viagra Should I take the first time? ›

How much Viagra should I take the first time? The recommended dose when taking sildenafil (Viagra) for the first time is 50mg. You should take one tablet around one hour before sexual activity. It is best to take Viagra on an empty stomach, as food can affect the absorption of the tablet.

How often can you take Viagra? ›

Adults—5 or 20 milligrams (mg) three times a day. Each dose should be taken about 4 to 6 hours apart. Children—Use and dose must be determined by your doctor.

Can Viagra Cure ED permanently? ›

Viagra is used to treat erectile dysfunction (ED). While it helps you temporarily maintain an erection so you can have sex, it does not cure ED. It does not affect sexual desire either. You still need mental or physical stimulation to get an erection.

Can you cut Viagra in half? ›

Erectile dysfunction (ED) medications that can be cut in half. The most common ED medications can be safely split. This includes: Sildenafil (Viagra)

Who should not use Viagra? ›

Additionally, Viagra is not advised to be taken by patients who: Are also taking medicines called nitrates (such as nitroglycerin), which are used to treat high blood pressure during surgery and certain heart conditions. Use street drugs called “poppers” (such as amyl nitrate or amyl nitrite, and butyl nitrate)

Can a healthy man take Viagra? ›

Some people who don't have problems with their erections misuse Viagra, believing it will help enhance sexual performance, confidence and erection quality. However, Viagra use in healthy men does not improve erections and it could have side-effects for your health.

What is the average stamina for a man in bed? ›

Stamina can mean many things, but when it comes to sex, it often refers to how long you can last in bed. For males, the average time between the sheets is anywhere from two to five minutes. For females, it's a bit longer: about 20 minutes before reaching the big O.

What home remedies can make a man last longer in bed? ›

The following methods can help to reduce erectile dysfunction, increase stamina, and improve the overall quality of sex:
  1. Focus on foreplay. ...
  2. Try the start-stop technique. ...
  3. Try something new. ...
  4. Manage anxiety and stress. ...
  5. Quit smoking. ...
  6. Open communication. ...
  7. Address relationship issues. ...
  8. Get more exercise.

What to say to a guy who can't get it up? ›

Try talking dirty, telling him what you want to do next or what about him really turns you on. If he is really spinning, maybe just hold him and reassure him that you're both OK. If he needs some space, let him have it, but don't let him avoid the topic forever.

How do you date someone with erectile dysfunction? ›

7 strategies for partnering up with ED
  1. Discuss the issue. ...
  2. Find the right time to talk. ...
  3. Reassure your partner that he is not alone. ...
  4. Learn about the condition and treatment options. ...
  5. Offer to go with your partner to his doctor's appointment. ...
  6. Help your partner help himself. ...
  7. Express your love in many ways.
19 Nov 2020

Can an impotent man fall in love? ›

An impotent man can still be a very effective lover. With a little knowledge and creativity, it's possible to keep impotence from ruining your love life – and your relationship. When a man who has never had problems in bed is suddenly unable to perform, it's difficult for his partner not to feel it's somehow her fault.

Can an 80 year old take Viagra? ›

In conclusion, oral sildenafil is efficacious and well tolerated by elderly men with ED, even among those older than 70 years.

What are the side effects of Viagra? ›

Dizziness, headache, flushing, or stomach upset may occur. Vision changes such as increased sensitivity to light, blurred vision, or trouble telling blue and green colors apart may also occur. If any of these effects last or get worse, tell your doctor or pharmacist promptly.

What's the difference between Viagra and Viagra connect? ›

The key difference between Viagra Connect and Viagra is that the former can be bought without a prescription, while the latter needs authorisation from a GP. Viagra Connect and Viagra are both manufactured by Pfizer, contain the same active ingredient (sildenafil citrate), and work in the exact same way.

Can you go to sleep after taking Viagra? ›

Conclusions: In most patients with good sleep efficiency and who have erectile dysfunction, sildenafil, rather than a placebo, taken at bedtime produces a significantly improved nocturnal erectile activity.

Why is my husband taking sildenafil? ›

Sildenafil is used to treat men who have erectile dysfunction (also called sexual impotence). Sildenafil belongs to a group of medicines called phosphodiesterase 5 (PDE5) inhibitors.

Does Viagra stop you coming? ›

Viagra will not make you come or prevent premature ejaculation. Viagra is primarily an erectile dysfunction medication and does not directly impact time to ejaculation.

What happens if you take Viagra and you don't need it? ›

You shouldn't take Viagra or medications like it without a prescription. It's risky due to side effects, possible contaminants in illegal pills, and the risk of developing ED. Some women may experience more sexual desire from taking Viagra, especially if their sexual dysfunction is caused by antidepressants.

What happens if you take Viagra if you don't have ED? ›

“These drugs have known risks that all men need to know about. They can be misused if men are not aware of the dangers,” said DeSouza. Even if you have ED, you can potentially misuse a phosphodiesterase 5 inhibitor and increase cardiovascular risks if you: Also take medications for chest pain called nitrates.

How does Viagra make you feel? ›

How Does Viagra Make You Feel? Viagra isn't a psychoactive medication, meaning it won't have any noticeable effect on the way you feel, think or perceive things during sex. Its effects are purely physical, meaning it will help you to get and maintain an erection, but won't change your emotions.

Does sildenafil keep you hard after coming? ›

Viagra is also prescribed for many men with early ejaculation. Viagra helps to maintain the erection after ejaculation and reduces the refractory time before a second erection can be obtained.

What are the long term side effects of Viagra? ›

For example, Viagra can cause prolonged erection. If not treated, this can lead to permanent erectile dysfunction. Viagra can also cause a serious eye condition called non-arteritic anterior ischemic optic neuropathy, which can lead to permanent vision loss.

How many times should a man release sperm in a week? ›

It is completely healthy to ejaculate more or less than three times a week! The average ejaculation frequency for men ranges from two to seven times a week, which is a pretty wide gap. So it's clear that there's no right or wrong answer, nor are there any significant health risks associated with ejaculation frequency.

How many minutes does it take a man to release sperm? ›

Most men ejaculate within a few minutes of starting to thrust during intercourse. Men with delayed ejaculation may be unable to ejaculate or may only be able to ejaculate with great effort after having intercourse for a long time (for example, 30 to 45 minutes).

Who should not use Viagra? ›

Additionally, Viagra is not advised to be taken by patients who: Are also taking medicines called nitrates (such as nitroglycerin), which are used to treat high blood pressure during surgery and certain heart conditions. Use street drugs called “poppers” (such as amyl nitrate or amyl nitrite, and butyl nitrate)

What are the dangers of taking Viagra? ›

Here's some detail on several of the side effects this drug may cause.
  • Allergic reaction. As with most drugs, some people can have an allergic reaction after taking Viagra. ...
  • Priapism. ...
  • Low blood pressure. ...
  • Heart attack, irregular heartbeat, and stroke. ...
  • Headaches. ...
  • Side effects in older men. ...
  • Erectile dysfunction (ED)

What happens if you take Viagra with alcohol? ›

It's best to avoid consuming alcohol while taking ED medications like Viagra: Not only can alcohol counteract the medication's effects, but it can also worsen side effects, like flushing and headaches. Again, talk to your healthcare provider before drinking alcohol if you're taking medications like Viagra.

Can a healthy man take Viagra? ›

Some people who don't have problems with their erections misuse Viagra, believing it will help enhance sexual performance, confidence and erection quality. However, Viagra use in healthy men does not improve erections and it could have side-effects for your health.

Can Viagra be used for anything else? ›

Summary: Viagra is now being used to treat not only erectile dysfunction (ED) but also pulmonary hypertension. And the drug may have potential for treating several other conditions, according to a recent report.

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