Most men ashamed to ac­knowl­edge their ED prob­lem

Global Times – Metro Shanghai - - FRONT PAGE - By Huang Lan­lan

In a sex­u­ally con­ser­va­tive coun­try like China, it is in­ter­est­ing to see that Vi­a­gra is al­most ev­ery­where: at eye level on drug­store shelves, on phar­macy win­dow bill­boards, on fliers at bus stops and even on tele­vi­sion.

Vi­a­gra is, as most peo­ple now know, a Western med­i­ca­tion in­vented in the late 1990s to treat erec­tile dys­func­tion (ED). Af­ter en­ter­ing the Amer­i­can mar­ket in 1998, it quickly be­came pop­u­lar around the world and le­gally avail­able in China at the start of the new mil­len­nium.

With a clever Chi­nese name (Wei ge, lit­er­ally “great brother”), Vi­a­gra en­joys a large cus­tomer base in China. Even though its global sales de­creased 10 per­cent in 2014, its sales surged in China by 47 per­cent the same year, ac­cord­ing to a 2015 Bloomberg re­port.

Seem­ingly play­ing the role of sav­ior for mil­lions of Chi­nese men who could not oth­er­wise get it up, this lit­tle blue pill is so widely known now that even 8th-grade boys like to make fun of each other with jokes like, “hey you look so list­less to­day, why not have a great brother?”

One of the big­gest rea­sons that Vi­a­gra has be­come so pop­u­lar in China, ob­vi­ously, is that China is home to many ED suf­fer­ers. Last month, do­mes­tic phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal man­u­fac­turer He­bei Chang­shan Bio­chem­i­cal Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal Co claimed that 140 mil­lion Chi­nese suf­fer ED.

“Among Chi­nese males aged above 20 years old, ED suf­fer­ers ac­count for 26.1 per­cent,” claimed Chang­shan, which re­cently re­ceived of­fi­cial ap­proval to sell its own Vi­a­gra-like med­i­ca­tion.

Even though the data was later proved fake and Chang­shan was fined 1.2 mil­lion yuan ($181,970), there’s still an es­ti­mated 70 mil­lion limp Chi­nese men (on the ba­sis of WHO’s con­ser­va­tive fig­ure in 2013 that around 10 per­cent of all men in the world are af­fected by ED).

Nonethe­less, few Chi­nese ED suf­fer­ers are will­ing to see a doc­tor, sim­ply out of em­bar­rass­ment. An­drol­o­gist Wang Xiaofeng told me­dia that only 20 per­cent of ED pa­tients in China go to the hos­pi­tal.

“The re­main­ing 80 per­cent are try­ing to solve it them­selves or just bear­ing it in si­lence,” he said, ac­cord­ing to chi­nanews.com in 2014.

This is be­cause many Chi­nese men are shy and con­cerned about sav­ing face. By go­ing to an an­drol­ogy hos­pi­tal, they would be openly ac­knowl­edg­ing that they are “not good” in bed. In our male-dom­i­nated so­ci­ety, chau­vin­ism not only op­presses women but also forces men to cater to cer­tain gen­der stereo­types, in­clud­ing be­ing ma­cho.

A bizarre logic is thusly es­tab­lished un­der this cir­cum­stance, im­ply­ing that ED suf­fer­ers are bad in bed and there­fore unattrac­tive, weak and ef­fem­i­nate.

These men fail to un­der­stand that, med­i­cally, male gen­i­tals are just like any other hu­man or­gan, and ED is a dis­ease as or­di­nary as gas­tri­tis or eczema, ir­rel­e­vant to one’s sex­ual ap­peal or skills. Go­ing to the doc­tor to get a pre­scrip­tion for Vi­a­gra, then, would be the equiv­a­lent of a per­son with a com­mon cold go­ing to the hos­pi­tal for an IV drip.

Iron­i­cally, the same ED suf­fer­ers who avoid see­ing a pro­fes­sional are will­ing to spend their money on un­re­li­able and dan­ger­ous folk reme­dies or fake sex­ual health prod­ucts.

Pe­nis and testis of male ox, goat and tiger are a tra­di­tional Chi­nese medicine that are said to in­crease men’s sex­ual po­tency, and are es­pe­cially pop­u­lar in ru­ral ar­eas. No one knows whether they re­ally work or not, but TCM tells us that “you are what you eat.”

Maca (Le­pid­ium meyenii Walp), a sort of radish from Latin Amer­ica, was once touted as the “plant ver­sion of Vi­a­gra,” en­joy­ing great pop­u­lar­ity and big sales in China be­fore be­ing ex­posed by CCTV in 2014 as a scam.

Chi­nese so­ci­ety is am­biva­lent if not out­right con­fused about sex. Con­dom ads are pro­hib­ited on TV, yet abor­tion surgery com­mer­cials are seen on prime-time screens; pro­fes­sional urol­o­gists who can write le­gal pre­scrip­tions for real Vi­a­gra re­ceive few pa­tients, but fake untested reme­dies re­main huge sell­ers.

The opin­ions ex­pressed in this ar­ti­cle are the author’s own and do not nec­es­sar­ily re­flect the views of the Global Times.

Illustration: Chen Xia/GT

Page Edi­tor: qix­i­jia@glob­al­times.com.cn

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