Evening Standard - ES Magazine


Should I be upset that my boyfriend is taking Viagra, asks Eliza. Emma-Louise Boynton has the answer

- Need a sex question answered? Email Emma-Louise at Emma-Louise. Boynton@standard.co.uk

I can imagine the heart-sinking moment

when you pulled open the drawer in search of that painkiller but instead found… Viagra.

Perhaps it felt as confrontin­g as those pop-up ads your computer becomes plagued with when a virus takes hold, and ads for giant scrunchies are replaced with images broadcasti­ng the benefits of a pill promising foot-long erections. And for just £24.99!

Perhaps, you wonder, my boyfriend has watched so much porn that he feels he must have an engorged, rock-hard penis when we shag. You then spiral into a deep, dark hole lamenting to the heavens: ‘AM I NOT ENOUGH?’

I, too would once have reacted in a similar way, but as a newly sex-therapised woman I can assure you that you are enough — in fact more than enough! This little box of penis-pumpers is nothing much to worry about and let me tell you why.

Viagra use is far more common than you think (more than one in 10 men have taken the drug). We just don’t talk about it all that often since there is still serious stigma around not being able to ‘get it up’. That’s unfortunat­e, given that one in five men in the UK will experience erectile dysfunctio­n. The causes vary but the usual culprits include: stress, tiredness, anxiety and — obviously — alcohol consumptio­n. So let’s consider what may have led him to purchase the penis pills.

Imagine once upon a time he struggled to get an erection when sleeping with a new partner. They were young and dumb and hadn’t learnt the importance of communicat­ion during sex. Rather than talking about it, the other person laughed and asked, ‘Is it me?’ (We’ve all been there.)

The moment was gone and your partner was left with a memory stored as ‘mortifying’. So scared was he that it would happen again, that’s exactly what began to happen. Because worrying that something may ‘go wrong’ is a sure-fire way to lose your sexual steam. As sex therapist Dr Karen Gurney explained to me, performanc­e anxiety is one of the most common causes of sexual dysfunctio­n.

Rather than risk this cycle repeating with you, your partner decided to stock up on Viagra, which is now easy to get over the counter, and said nada for fear of judgement.

So, rather than feeling horrified, my advice is to feel compassion towards him and take the opportunit­y to talk more openly with one another about your sex life.

“Worrying something may ‘go wrong’ is a sure-fire way to lose your sexual steam”

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