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How Viagra Changed Everything We Ever Knew About Boners


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It so happens that often times a research may be underway to investigate a solution to a certain problem while it may take a completely different course. The research may end up addressing another issue which was not even originally intended. All it takes is an observant eye and being open minded to other possibilities. The discovery of penicillin was the result of a very dirty lab where the mould from unwashed laboratory apparatus started to grow and caught the attention of Dr. Alexander Fleming. Similarly Minoxidil, a drug originally intended for blood pressure when taken orally by patients triggered hair growth on the chest and back. It was later rebranded as Rogaine and made to be applied to scalp area alone for hair regrowth. Similarly the drug under question, scientifically known as sildenafil and more commonly known as Viagra, came into existence.

Viagra is one of the well-known prescription drug names throughout the world. The advertisements of old people lounging on the beach or the subtle innuendos involving old men and their partner has been in the print and electronic media for almost 20 years. Originally patented by Pfizer, the American based Biopharmaceutical Company, this drug will complete almost two decades of serving the erectile dysfunction problem in men. According to Pfizer spokesperson, almost 62 million men all over the world have bought the drug at one point. More and more are buying it as one of the most reliable medications to address erectile dysfunction. It is reported that almost 30 million men in U.S and 100 million the world over suffer from erectile dysfunction so the potential of further sales is always feasible. The U.S military alone spends around $41.6 million annually and the sales in the North American region including Mexico come to about 1.4 billion dollars.

The accidental discovery

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As already established, Viagra came into existence by a mere chance as researchers were not even working on the said drug. The main compound in the drug sildenafil was originally made by Pfizer to treat cardiovascular problems, specifically hypertension and angina pectoris or in simple words heart pain due to heart diseases. The compound works by dilating the blood vessels around the cardiovascular region by inhibiting a certain protein named PDE-5. In animal tests the compound was showing promising results as it was successfully blocking PDE-5 in order to dilate the blood vessels. The animals were not having negative side effects to the administration of the drug and it seemed promising enough to start clinical trials for humans. The drug was brought to phase one of the trials on humans in the early 1990s to check for any untoward complexities that may be brought on by the drug.

The trial was going fine and all the indicators seemed to be reading normal as far as controlling hypertension was concerned. However one peculiar behavior of patients caught the eye of nurses who went to check up on them. Whenever the staff came for follow up the patients quickly started to rest on their stomachs. According to John LaMattina, the head of development and research at Pfizer at the time of these clinical trials, he recalled how one nurse reported the way patients were embarrassed of their erection and trying to hide it. So the drug was dilating the blood vessels but not around the heart region as originally planned but rather in the vicinity of penile region. As the blood vessels around penis got dilated, specifically corpus cavernosum the patients experienced the embarrassing erection.

The actual function and role

The researchers discovered that PDE-5 inhibitor; sildenafil actually penetrated the smooth muscles feeding into the penis and blocked the enzyme CGMP from working. This enzyme is responsible for inhibiting relaxation of muscles. As the muscles relaxed they become dilated as it opens the floodgates for blood to enter into them. This resulted in the hardening of the penile muscles and an erection substantial enough for sexual function. The process is helped by sexual stimulation as one is aroused it will relax the muscles in the penis allowing for greater blood flow. Viagra may not increase the man’s sexual desire in and of itself but knowing one will perform better may help to increase the libido

Pfizer saw the erectile dysfunction in men as still something which is not resolved by any contemporary medicine hence Viagra was introduced to cater to this potential market.

Instant hit after approval by FDA

As soon as FDA approved the drug for treating erectile dysfunction and the medicine hit the market shelves it was an immediate success. The sales boomed and it was the most well received prescription product in the history of initial sales of such products. The 2008 sales reported almost 2 billion $ in revenue which speaks for the quick success of the drug in the market. To promote the use of the drug Pfizer started heavy advertisement and campaign about raising awareness of erectile dysfunction and how it can be treated. The campaign encouraged men to reach out to their physicians and doctors and discuss this problem because they are not alone. This really emboldened men to discuss the matter with their doctors and boosted sales of the drug further.

Safest way to take the drug

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It is taken orally with pills usually coming in 25mg and 50 mg capacities. It is recommended to take it at least an hour before engaging in a sexual intercourse. It is not a hard and fats rule and depending on the reaction of an individual it could be taken even four hours or two hours varying from individual to individual. Similarly the dosage administration could be customized according to individuals. The process can be helped by the advice of a doctor and their recommendation. Whatever the case maybe, it should not exceed 100mg per dose and should not be taken more than once per day.

Also let your doctor know if you are using any other medications specifically nitrates (nitroglycerin and isosorbide) since Viagra interact with nitrates and causes severe low blood pressure.

Side Effects of Viagra

Generally speaking the most common side effects of Viagra are short lived and not serious. One may experience mild headaches, nausea, feeling flushed, experiencing heart burn and problem with vision. Again it is necessary to review the drugs you are already using before using Viagra since it may have a negative reaction with them. The dosage may be altered based on the other drugs that you may already be using to avoid any unpleasant side effects.

Understanding the stigma attached to erectile dysfunction

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The significance of this pill in treating erectile dysfunction(ED) cannot be ignored as it affects one in four men under the age of 40. A man with ED has trouble maintaining an erection for sexual intercourse. This could lead to performance anxiety as a man may deem himself inadequate and naturally lead towards stress. This could result in a negative impact on self-esteem of an individual and eventually take its toll on the relationship they are in often resulting in clinical depression.

According to a BMJ survey, almost 62% reported a decline in their ability to feel self-sufficient and losing their self-esteem. Almost 29 percent of men reported declining romance in relationship to a point of no more intimacy and 21% reported their relationship ceased completely after this condition. It is obvous that impotence carries social stigma and sense of masculinity severely traumatized. Hence this drug provided the oral solution to rebuild the confidence of men and restore their relationships.

The discovery of Viagra was crucial in our understanding of how erection in men worked as it explained the finer details to equip us with the knowledge pertaining to erection. It is often that such research and development efforts are met with failure but it takes serendipity and the presence of mind to scavenge from a seemingly hopeless research a solution that might be an answer to an unmet problem. According to the lead researcher on sildenafil effects on human body, Ian Osterloh, they did not give much thought to the initial reports of participants reporting erection after being administered by the drug. This could be blamed to the complete lack of knowledge on how the erection actually worked in men. However as the clinical trials and results started to come in it illuminated the complexities and biochemical reactions involved at the micro level. If it was not for that observant nurse who saw the embarrassing patients trying to hide their boners Viagra may not even be here. It is always necessary to report all the side effects of a drug associated with its administration and not just the bad ones. Who knows it may have its usage in some other application as was the case with Pfizer’s Viagra.


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How Viagra Changed Everything We Ever Knew About Boners

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