Dr. Suzy's Journal
by Dr. Susan Block
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Dr. Susan Block
O N  V I A G R A

      I knew the Viagra really worked when Max and I were in the midst of a minor but definitely arousal-killing argument, and I looked down between his legs to find him harder than a teenage boy ogling his first centerfold.  Now, I must say that my Max, as those of you who know him know, is a very horny husband, not exactly an adolescent (he’s 53), but not a candidate for potency aids either, and lots of things turn him on.   But an argument, even a petty little squabble, is not one of those things. That’s how I knew that the little baby blue pill was not just a well-hyped placebo.  Here we were bickering testily about groceries, while just below the belt-line, Max’s soldier-boy was saluting me like I was a five-star general.

       We’d obtained the drug from a friend I’ll call “Oscar,” a distinguished professor of history at a fine Northeastern university.   When Oscar came to visit the Villa, like any good guest, he brought flowers and wine, but he had another surprise in his suitcase.  That bottle of little blue pills. I’d already heard of Viagra, how its active ingredient Sildenafil Citrate was developed first as a heart medication.  When it didn’t prove successful for coronary treatment, all test participants were asked to return any pills they didn’t take, but many refused.  Researchers were puzzled.  Why did the participants want to keep this medication?  Because their sex lives had heated up to scorching, that’s why.

Viagra Molecule     A few of my sex therapy clients had participated in some American Sildenafil Citrate studies. These were guys with a variety of potency problems, from performance anxiety to diabetes to garden variety middle-age-mixed-with-marital-boredom.  All got pretty positive results.  One got a headache after his hard-on, but said the pleasure of a hammerhard meatwhistle was well worth the slight pain that followed  For all of these guys, the fact that the stuff came in pill form made it infinitely more desirable than any of the older remedies like injections and prosthetics (for those with physical difficulties), and much quicker and easier than months or years of therapy for those with psychological erectile inhibitions.

     So, I wasn’t surprised to see Viagra attain instant stardom when it emerged on the market.  But could it be more than just a craze? Women got the Pill in the 60’s, freeing us from pregnancy worries, and helping to kickstart the Sexual and Feminist Revolutions. Now men have a Pill.  All hail the Pfizer-Riser which promises to free the human male from performance anxiety and the degradations of age.  Does a bunch of older guys sporting suddenly raging stiffies qualify as a Male Sexual Revolution? Well, maybe a mini-revolution.

     In any case, when Oscar arrived with the pills, all the guys in the Villa gathered around the bottle like it was a magic lantern.  Or a new kind of fuel for your engine.  Max, never one to pass up an erotic impulse, popped one into his mouth.  I eyed him quizzically.  It was a Show Night, meaning we’d be filming until at least 4 AM.  Why take the stuff now?

     Throughout the show, I found myself stealing glances at Max’s crotch.  I definitely saw evidence bulging in his pants, but on Show Night, that’s no big deal.  What with all the scantily clad feminine pulchritude floating around the Villa, Max invariably gets hard-ons on Show Night.  But maybe not quite so many hard-ons…

     By the time we went up to our private bedroom, Max’s manhood was stiff as Don King’s hair. But since he’s usually aroused on Show nights, I wasn’t sure how much of his tumescence to attribute to the drug and how much to chalk up to our standard mating practices.

    But then there were the colors. Max swore he was seeing colors.  “Wow!  That light is turning purple!”  Max exclaimed.

    “Darling, that light is purple,” I felt obliged to remind him.  “It’s a purple light bulb.”

   “But it’s more purple,” he insisted.  From news reports, I’d heard Viagra made some folks see blue or purple. It was always described as an unfortunate side effect.  Max was making it sound like tripping on primo peyote.  “Everything’s different colors!” he exclaimed after our third round of orgasms (yes, we did go quite a bit farther than standard Show Night sex).

   So, the Male Pill gives guys hard-ons and visions; all the Female Pill does is stop us from getting knocked up.  Sounds like a case of pharmaceutical gender discrimination to me (no less a moral arbiter than the Pope has given his blessing to Viagra, something he never gave the Female Pill!).  In my constant quest to make things “fair,” I resolved to take one of the little blue pills myself.  I would have popped it then and there, if I wasn’t so exhausted (albeit blissfully so) from being on the receiving end of my Viagra-tanked husband.

    I woke up still tired (Max had had middle-of-the-night urges too), but determined to try  Viagra myself.  I still wasn’t sure how much of an effect it had had on Max, since he was always excited on Show Nights. But Sunday night was the opposite of Show Night.  We’re usually so pooped from Saturday that we don’t do much of anything on Sunday.  Sometimes we have a little sex, but it’s the hasty, semiconscious rutting of the sorely fatigued.  Nothing athletic.  It was under these conditions that Max took his second Viagra pill, and I took a half (at the last minute, I got prudent).  We took off our pants and chatted.  I began to feel slightly energized.  Was the Viagra exciting me?  Or was I just excited over the prospect of being on Viagra or of having sex again with Max on Viagra?  Or was I excited for some other reason?  “Do you see the colors?” Max inquired. He was apparently watching scenes from Fantasia on the mirrors in our ceiling.  I couldn’t say I saw any colors that weren’t already there.  But the hues did seem brighter, more sparkly. I felt lighter, livelier. Max was acting pretty lively too.

It's Purple      Then we got into that groceries argument.  Under any other circumstances, Max’s dick would be curled up into his body, waiting for this unsexy marital spat to blow over, before it came out to play.  Well, tonight it didn’t care whether we were spatting or sweet-talking.  It was high on Viagra, and it was out to play.

     I must say I was rather out-to-play also.  As a woman, of course, my sexual parts are not so easily measured as the male penis.  But I did feel quite aroused for a Sunday night, and climaxed a bit more intensely than usual. Then there was that brightness, that lightness, kind of like an extremely mild dose of the hallucinogen Ecstacy.  No wonder the old Baby Boomers love this stuff!  Hard-ons and hallucinations!  Talk about feeling young again.

     But my own responses were a bit too nebulous to put stock into.  No, the proof was in Max’s rigid pole during that argument.  What exactly was going on here?  Later, we learned that the stuff worked kind of like a Roto-Rooter for the arteries, opening up the vessels so the blood flows more freely, and the genitals can become more easily engorged.

     As we discussed how Viagra worked its “miracles,” we realized that Max had been using something for years that did essentially the same thing, though not so intensively: cayenne pepper!  No, he doesn’t apply the pepper to his penis (ouch!), he sprinkles it on his food.  Cayenne thins the blood, making it easier for the penis to become engorged, somewhat like Viagra does.  It’s actually a great alternative for those who prefer natural, inexpensive home remedies to the $10-per-pill pharmaceutical.  It won’t make you see colors, but it will help your blood flow.  I encourage my clients and listeners to try the cayenne pepper “cure,” but somehow, I don’t think it’ll make a dent in the Viagra (mini)Revolution.

       Not that I mind.  Of course, Viagra could cause me and other therapists to lose a lot of business. But I welcome it. So many men suffer from erection difficulties. We’ll never know how many, because most guys lie about it. And erection difficulties beget many more problems, low self-esteem, anger, self-loathing, loneliness, divorce, violence against women.

    After all, a man’s penis is not just his greatest source of pleasure, it's his identity, his thrust into the future, his proudest possession, his best friend, his most powerful and most vulnerable body part, marvelous, but extremely moody.  As Plato wrote, "In man, the nature of the genital organs is disobedient and self-willed, like a creature deaf to reason, all because of its frenzied lusts."  A man may be in love with a lady, but his penis may be bored.  He may be madly in lust, but his penis is on strike.  Or, he may be wary of a woman, but his penis is ready to party.

     And now we have a pill that promises control over penile moodiness and eases the ravages of age?  Well, certain guys might rather have a new Jeep with all the extras, but most will want Viagra more than anything. When news emerged that using Viagra while on heart medication might be dangerous, thousands of men threw out their angina pills.

     So, what are the implications? What will happen if the Viagra craze turns into a measurable increase in male potency?  Will all the newly virile old men leave their long-suffering wives to dash after younger newer models?  Or will they be more likely to stay with their wives, since their erections will be more reliable and they won’t have to seek out freshness and novelty to get it up? Will guys who have no serious erection difficulties, but take Viagra just for “erotic enhancement” become addicted to the drug, so psychologically dependent on the little Wedgewood blue pill that they can’t get it up without it?  Will there be lawsuits from Viagra-addicted men?  Or will the lawsuits come from the wives whose previously manageable husbands have become Viagra-hopped up horndogs pushing their relentless hard-ons in their frazzled wives’ faces, demanding sex to the point of boorishness?

      Who knows? But here’s one result you can bet on: People will be having more sex. Some will benefit. Some will suffer. Some will sue. The games of sex and drugs are never exactly fair.

     And it is kind of a miracle drug in these erotophobic times.  I enjoyed my Viagra Weekend, and I must say I enjoyed Max on Viagra.  That was a few months ago, we haven’t taken it since, and I’m not sure when we’ll take it again.

      Meanwhile, I’ll keep my ears (and mouth) open for the new pill they’re developing for women that facilitates orgasm.  It probably works similarly to Viagra.  After all, men are not from Mars and women are not from Venus.  We’re both from this beautiful, wild, sexual planet Earth.  We all need love, we all need sex, and we all need blood flow.

     So, if you have serious erection difficulties, ask your doctor for a Viagra prescription. You deserve a hard-on, at least once in a while.  If you don’t have erection difficulties, and you’re just looking for an extra thrill, well, personally, I find nothing wrong with that.  But please, see Viagra for what it is: a recreational, potentially addictive drug.  Use it sparingly.  Try cayenne pepper.

Dr. Susan Block
Susan M. Block, Ph.D.


Dr. Susan Block is a practicing sex therapist, star of Radio Sex TV on HBO, author of The 10 Commandments of Pleasure (St. Martin's Press), and director of The Dr. Susan Block Institute for the Erotic Arts & Sciences in
Beverly Hills, California. 
She can be reached at 323.883.1950.