What Men Want to Know about Erectile Dysfunction Drugs

ED, Viagra, Cialis, erectile dysfunction, impotence, aging sexualityIt seems to me that men, and their partners, have questions about ED drugs that aren’t readily available or maybe even easily answered? Cialis, Levitra and Viagra are the most familiar of these erectile dysfunction drugs. It is common knowledge that popping one of these pills makes it easier for men to get and sustain an erection. But that’s really about the extent of what most people know about erectile dysfunction medications.

I’ve been asked by a few women what these medications really do and that was a question I could answer. Here’s the technical answer, “Pills for erectile dysfunction (ED) are classified as phosphodiesterase type 5 (PDE5) inhibitors and help increase blood flow to the penis. More specifically, these drugs increase the amount of nitric oxide in the body. The nitric oxide works with other substances to relax and open blood vessels so that blood can flow more freely, leading to a satisfactory erection.” International Society for Sexual Medicine

The simple answer-it makes his penis get hard. The drugs do not make men want more sex, or become aroused. Psychologically I suspect men feel sexier and more secure when they’ve popped one of these pills. Knowing that one’s erection might be more reliable can be a relief and allow men to think more positively about having (penetrative) sex. It has been my experience that the ability to have erections again leads to a greater sense of well-being. I found my partner to be more likely to take his time, knowing that the erection would last he seemed to relax more, and there was a sort of adolescent swagger that appeared. A delight in being hard and firm, if you will. That matches what some of the men were saying on a user site I’ve linked to a little farther down the page.

It is important to understand that simply taking an ED drug will not spontaneously result in an erection; arousal must be present. If there are issues in the relationship that might result in erectile issues, those still need to be addressed.

I talked to a male friend recently who expressed interest in knowing what men experience when they take one of these ED medications. How do they feel physically?  What happens after one takes a pill? I think he also wondered about the whole experience of intercourse while taking one of these drugs. I don’t know how to answer his questions.

There are plenty of comments from users on this site about hardness and length of time for erections. But what does it feel like? The penis, the climax, the whole experience.

Michael Castleman wrote an article about ED medications and shares some of the side effects and stats. He notes, interestingly, that older men (age not stated) are less likely to take ED drugs–positing that they have given up intercourse in favor of other sexual pleasures which are easier on both partners.

There are some common side effects–a runny nose, red face (dilated blood vessels are not just in penis), headaches. What else? What do you know? Are willing to share? I would like to hear from any of my male readers who take an ED medication. You can post anonymously in the comments or write me and I’ll share your comments anonymously in a follow-up article. Email me at walker@walkerthornton.com  Please don’t send me porn-type letters, let’s keep it clean. I’m looking for your observations on what it’s like when you’ve taken an ED medication.

Erectile Dysfunction, ED Drugs, hard-onSo, tell me how it feels, literally. Does it change the feelings you experience as you orgasm? What would you tell a friend who was about to get one of these meds? How would you describe what’s happening to a lover?


Here’s a good article on the various ED drugs available from the Harvard medical site.


Impotence image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net. Smiling Man (because I just had to) found at Gratisography.com

When sustaining a business is like sustaining an intimate connection

sexuality, sustaining intimate connections, commitment

Doing the numbers here for October. My income is pretty low this month. That kinda sucks–the words I scribbled in today’s journal. And the words that led me to this article, a bit of a rambling mixed with advice.

But, on the positive side—giving reinforcement and seeing the ‘up’ side is helpful—my business output was good overall. I made some connections. I pitched Playboy magazine and reached out to existing clients–even if they weren’t currrently asking for articles from me. I submitted a couple of proposals and I gave a presentation on dating for seniors.

All in all it was a good month–it depends on which aspect of things I choose to look at. I could focus on dollars earned, but that would be to focus on the wrong thing. If one is paying attention to the bigger picture.

Sex is sorta like this too. We could focus on a more youth-like obsession like, “How many times did I score this month?” or “how many orgasms did I have?” but that misses the point.

Let’s talk about the behind-the-scenes work of building and sustaining intimate connections. Because that’s where one builds the foundation, not unlike my checking in with editors, of satisfying relationship moments for the future. It’s short-sighted to rush for a quick score if you don’t pay attention to the other stuff.

Say you’re not having partner sex right now. Don’t close up shop–engage in some self-pleasuring. Reach out to your partner(s) and make other sorts of contact. Stoke the fire. Keep talking. Keep touching. Keep thinking and building connection.

No partner? Take care of your own needs. Do a little educational reading, think about what you want in relationships. Go for a walk, invite a friend for a drink. Don’t mope about or get all sour and bitter. Resistance and disappointment aren’t going to help put you in the ideal place to attract a partner, or feel good about yourself.

I use a bullet journal (sharing just for fun) as my calendar where I list tasks for the day, as well as things I want to accomplish in a week. Plus the odd doodle or scribble. My tasks include a mix of education in my craft (pick one…writing or sex!) and actual paid work. And, like every person in business for herself there is the practical work that has to be done to sustain my business…my relationships.

The two parts are inextricably connected.

We can see the results in our intimate relationships–I know that to be true.

What do you need to do right now, to help strengthen your intimate connections? Remember that self-awareness and self-love is essential.

ps: Playboy said no thanks, but at least their sex editor replied and took a look at my links. 

Image from Carli Jean at Unsplash.


Pleasure – why aren’t we seeking more of it in our lives?

consent, pleasure, sexuality

Most conferences these days feature ‘swag’ bags. When you go to a sexuality conference you can always count on a wide array of enticing goodies. The Woodhull Sexual Freedom Summit, this past August, was no different. In the bag was a button that read, Can I Kiss You? The focus was on consent as part of a safe sex message.

I never got around to putting mine on, failing to wear it to the Saturday night celebration (where all the action was happening). I was with some friends,  talking to another sex educator, a charming guy with a ready smile and quick wit, when my friend suggested that though I had forgotten my pin I might want a kiss. I smiled and was asking cute sex geek for a kiss when I realized he was saying Yes. That was all he said. Yes. Simple, to the point and affirmative. We kissed–a soft yummy longish kiss (for near strangers), then we parted ways. There was no subtext, no sexual charge, just a delightful kiss. (He is a very good kisser)  The night before I had also received a goodnight kiss after a long conversation with a man I had just met.

The party was all about cutting loose and celebrating the conference, the honorees, and the freedom of sexual expression. At sexuality conferences, people understand and practice consent. They value the simple pleasures of intimacy, understanding that the act of connecting doesn’t have to be fraught with hidden meanings.

I’ve been thinking about the conference and my experiences. I had the opportunity to hang with a group of sex-positive individuals who possess a deeper understanding about pleasure and sex. The pursuit of pleasure is embraced and welcomed as a healthy expression of the individual, whether we’re talking kisses, hugs or something more intimate.

In mainstream culture, the idea of pursuing sexual connections just for pleasure is considered dirty, torrid –something to be condemned. There is a subtle context to all interactions that ‘look’ sexual.  A kiss must mean that person wants to get into your panties. A warm hug, a caress, a kiss–it’s viewed as a prelude to intercourse.  But what if it’s simply people exploring the things they want, with the people they find appealing? In a room full of adults, who understand consent and privilege and the power of conversation, there is little risk or danger.

I didn’t engage in sexual activities that weekend, but I’m pretty sure that some of my fellow conference-goers did. And they probably felt comfortable and pleased with their experiences. Because they have figured out, for the most part, how to tap into pleasure without all the layers of guilt and shame that are pushed on us in daily life.

There are few places in my daily life where I would feel comfortable saying, “I find you appealing, may I kiss you?” The question might be read to imply more or I might get shamed. In practicing consent it is important to ask, understanding that the No is as acceptable as the Yes. We respect either answer and understand that it’s not a reflection on us but rather a statement of that person’s feelings in the moment.

There’s always a transition period after attending a conference and the sexuality ones tend to present me with numerous opportunities for growth. Part of that is figuring out how to incorporate new insights into my existing life and relationships. That awareness has to include my wants and desires as well as the comfort level of those who might not understand where I’m coming from. What was safe in that ballroom in Alexandria might not be safe in a bar in the big city.

I can, however, create opportunities to educate others. To share my thoughts and experiences and talk about how we, together, can bring about change. A change in sexual attitudes, a change in how we express our desires, and how we relate to others. I like to talk about sexuality as a way of helping others expand their capacity for pleasure and satisfaction–sexual, emotional and otherwise. After all, if we just sat on our hands, mouths shut, and denied ourselves the opportunity to experience pleasure, in all its manifestations, the world would be a duller place.

Wanting to be taken care of

We were standing in front of Penn Station talking about why I didn’t need him to come down to the waiting area with me. I was resisting his offer, for no good reason. It was an unspoken resistance that I now understand was about taking care of myself as opposed to allowing someone to take care of me. We talked for a few minutes, had a nice goodbye kiss, then he left–after escorting me down the escalator to help with my bags. I waited for my train to arrive, alone and regretting the decision.

Seth Godin writes about our fears and dreams. In his list of what one dreamed of was the phrase–being taken care of. In that moment I recognized myself. The emotion that had surfaced on my train ride home and the following day. A mixture of sadness and bewilderment at the intensity of feelings I was experiencing after a long weekend in the city–with a man I had just met. A weekend of long walks and meals and conversation–being seen and heard, and feeling attended to.

On Monday morning it came down to being taking care of as he led me along the crowded city street to the subway, carrying my bag. Checking to make sure I was comfortable taking the subway instead of a cab, navigating the train station. Small stuff, but all focused on my needs in the moment. Considerate, thoughtful, generous.

I’m not always comfortable with being attended to so thoroughly. And I often say no, politely, but a no that serves to isolate me a little and deprive others of the opportunity to do something nice for me. I insist that I can handle it. I shut down a little. I protest, silently, fearing I might be perceived as needy rather than understanding that the offer comes from a different place. The giver has his/her own motive that is based in kindness and concern.

And deep inside, I do want to be taken care of. The little girl who learned to hide her emotions, who fought off feeling helpless at times wants that. The strong woman who has fought too many battles alone would like a strong arm enveloping her–inviting her to relax and lean back a little. But she can’t always allow it. I’ve had to learn that it is OK to fall apart a little and to admit to needing help. And, that none of this diminishes me.

Maybe the only way to fulfil the dreams is to let go, to face the fears–confront my vulnerabilities. Feeling the freedom in letting go and being accepted in all my weaknesses and frailties. My wonderful traits as well. I know I’m not alone. We each have our own lists of fears and dreams. I’m processing my recent experience and thinking about what I need in my life and what I have to do in order to satisfy those dreams and desires. One of the answers, for there are many, is to accept. To trust, to let go, to be willing to embrace my vulnerabilities. And maybe what all of us need is to welcome our fear–knowing that by seeing it and labeling it, we are in charge, no longer controlled by our fears. Creating space for dreams to be filled, for good things to happen, for the right person or right experience to come into our lives.

I’m musing aloud on this. It’s a part of my process, and it’s a bit uncomfortable admitting to this in public, but that’s also part of the process.  I used to think it was harder for women to let themselves be taken care of, in our struggles to show our strength and independence in a culture that labels us as the weaker sex. I believe men also have that desire for someone to want to take care of them–it’s what happens when we’re connected to another. It’s not an indicator of neediness or frailty, actually it takes strength to admit to wanting or needing a little assistance or attention at any given moment. It’s not about making one of us weaker, it’s about giving. Pleasure comes in all forms. When the offer is heartfelt and we say no, we have denied both of us an opportunity for something good.

Your thoughts?