What is Viagra?
Viagra is the trade name for a drug called Sildenafil. Viagra is one of a class of drugs known as PDE-5 (Phosphodiesterase type 5) inhibitors. Viagra and the other PDE-5 inhibitors can help men with erectile dysfunction (male impotence) by enhancing the erectile response when a man is sexually stimulated. Aside from Viagra, the other drugs in this class are Cialis (Tadalafil) and Levitra (Vardenafil).
How does Viagra work?
Viagra does not cause a man to be sexually aroused. Viagra is only effective if you are sexually aroused. To understand how it works you need to understand the mechanics of how a man gets an erection. When you get sexually stimulated, the nervous system in the erectile tissue of your penis releases nitric oxide (NO). The nitric oxide stimulates an enzyme that produces something called a messenger cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cGMP). The cGMP relaxes the smooth muscle cells. One result of this is that the arteries in your penis dilate and the blood can flow into your penis more easily. Another result is that the erectile tissue itself fills with blood. Both of these process result in an erection. Viagra works by maintaining the level of cGMP in the smooth muscle cells. If you are not turned on, your brain will not stimulate the release of any nitric oxide and you will not produce any cGMP.
You may find it embarrassing if you are having difficulty maintaining an erection, or finding it hard to ejaculate, but you are not alone. Many men have the same problem. As many as two and a half million men around the UK may have some sort of sexual dysfunction at any one time. And although it may not be something you want to discuss with your friends, it is important that you get some advice if you are worried about it.
The most common cause of erectile dysfunction for young men is anxiety. This may include concerns about getting someone pregnant, not wanting to appear inexperienced, or worrying about using a condom without embarrassment or losing your erection while putting a condom on.
Middle Aged Men
Common causes of erectile dysfunction for middle aged men may include stress, guilt, or having sex with a new partner after many years of monogamy. Other causes may include diabetes.
Although 70% of men over the age of 70 are still sexually active, erectile dysfunction does get more likely as you get older. This may be linked to the deterioration to the blood vessels that carry blood to the penis, and also to the deterioration of heart or brain arteries.