Go With the Flow


- —K.S.

drugs do just what they say: They enhance a natural process. An erection aided by drugs like Viagra starts the same way as an erection sans pharmaceut­icals, with a man getting turned on. That state releases nitric oxide in a spongy tissue known as the corpus cavernosum, or, more plainly, erectile tissue. The infusion of this colorless gas stimulates production of a protein called c . hen levels of c escalate, the walls of the arteries relax, allowing more blood to ow into the penis.

But for some men, another protein, known as phosphodie­sterase type , can intrude. - breaks down c . And when levels of c plunge, so does the hope of an erection.

Viagra, ialis and evitra prevent - from dismantlin­g c . ith - restrained, levels of c are free to escalate. And the more c there is, the more relaxed the arteries become and the more blood can ow. That simple mechanism has transforme­d life between the sheets for millions of couples since 1998.

This (ahem) rise is not without its fall, though. ommercial erectile dysfunctio­n drugs carry warnings against taking them simultaneo­usly with nitrates for chest pain since the combinatio­n could cause blood pressure to plummet. That’s because nitrates break down into nitric oxide— the compound that stimulates production of c —and mixing these two medication­s churns out too much c . The protein left over after the arteries are relaxed ends up dilating blood vessels, and that widening forces blood pressure to drop. In the best-case scenario, a man may feel dizzy or lightheade­d, but he could also pass out—or even go into potentiall­y fatal shock. And that is not the sort of bedroom surprise anyone is looking for.

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