Dick pills, do you need to take them?

Dick Pills

As I’ve written about, hard ons can be random and unreliable. Sometimes they are annoying when they don’t happen (and sometimes annoying when they do). For the last 30 years to get erections when they want them a lot of people have taken dick pills, but do you need to?

How dick pills work

Dick pills (PDE – 5 inhibitors, such as sildenafil (Viagra), tadalafil (Cialis), vardenafil (Levitra), avanafil (Spedra)) work by relaxing the smooth muscle which surrounds the erectile tubes in the penis (the corpus cavernosa). This encourages blood to flow into the spongy cells. They press up against the walls of these tubes (tunica albuginea), which helps erections to happen. They don’t, by themselves, just make people horny. Dick pills just mechanically make erections a bit easier. They don’t make dicks bigger in the long run. There’s more from me here about dick enlargement treatments.

Interesting fact, sildenafil was originally being tested as a way to treat angina (a heart condition). The studies were happening in Swansea and these guys were finding that their dicks were getting harder than usual. So they didn’t want to give the drugs back. As with many drugs, it was just a random side effect to try and treat something else. There’s a show on BBC over Christmas about this called Men Up. I was also delighted asked by the BBC to help make this video for BBC Ideas about how viagra was discovered.

In the UK you can get them from a GP, or a pharmacy, or even online. There’s more information about this at the NHS webpage on how to get it. Here’s more about the drug itself.

So who needs them?

Just like erections, studies into erectile dysfunction can be unreliable and vary a lot. One of the most turgid is the Natsal 3 study, which found that around 13% of men had trouble getting or keeping an erection lasting over a 3 month period in the past year. That rises (ahem) to around 30% in older age groups. 

But it’s not so much older age which affects hard-ons, just other life events which might happen as we get older. Erection trouble is associated with poor mental and physical health generally (particularly cardio-vascular problems).. It’s also associated with unemployment, relationship difficulties, poor first time sexual experiences, and an inability to talk about the issue or seek help. Genital contact without penetration is also associated with better sexual function.

Some trans women also want to experience erections, so viagra or cialis might be useful for them too. (Check with your healthcare provider first.)

Read: what can I do when they lose their hard on?

Are people actually bothered by a lack of an erection?

Of those who experience sexual difficulties only a fraction of those are bothered by it. Many people just recognise it as a symptom of everything else going on for them. A lot of the time it’s a sign that they need to take better care of themselves generally. No-one is suggesting that we use Viagra to treat depression, relationship difficulties, and unemployment: yet. A lot of people are also just happy to find workarounds, different kinds of sex, that are pleasurable and don’t need a consistently hard dick.

Dick pills as doping

Reportedly younger men represent the largest market for Viagra and other dick pills. Years ago (I remember when Viagra first came out) it was a slightly shameful treatment aimed at older men. Now it’s being advertised at younger men as if it will improve their performance. Like a performance enhancing drug. You know, what they absolutely don’t use in the Tour de France anymore.

The truth is, if you’re a younger man, then dick pills are probably not going to help you that much. Being stressed out is the biggest enemy of the hard on, whether someone takes a dick pill or not. The stress of being in sexual situations and the stress of performing well and staying hard, may contribute to not being aroused. Because of the story of men and hard dicks, there can be a lot at stake for guys (keep reading). If a dick pill relieves that stress, then it might work, but if you get stressed about sex they just won’t. 

Dick pills and masculinity

Over the years, dick pills have gone from something which is a bit ‘unmanly’, to now being seen as a technology in helping men be ‘manly’. So dick pills are now part of what it is to be a ‘successful man’. This is how capitalism works (hey this is a left wing website). It’s about making us feel like we are lacking in some way, and then selling us something to fill the lack.

Speaking of which, as you can see this website is free and there are no ads. Please think about supporting us to keep it that way.

Dick pills have just reinforced a story about how ‘hard’ men are ‘meant’ to be and what ‘counts’ as sexual activity. Interestingly, they’ve changed porn. Viagra use in the porn industry has replaced the reliable ‘woodsman’ of the VHS era of porn with younger, harder, and athletic men. Sex scenes are now longer, harder, and involve more penetration. (It also was part of the worsening of pay and conditions for porn performers too. More on that in my article about porn and capitalism.)  If you are old enough to watch porn (18) have a search for some porn from the 1970s and see for yourself.

Viagra makes culture but culture also made Viagra

But the idea of what it was to ‘be a man’ was there before dick pills (especially Viagra) were invented too. The way that they’ve been marketed has been very clever because it goes with the grain of the story of how ‘hard’ men are ‘meant’ to be and what ‘counts’ as sexual activity. These ‘should stories’ about masculinity and sex have been retold for centuries. It’s about getting hard and performing (not necessarily enjoying it). Having a hard penis does not necessarily mean that sex is more enjoyable for the penis-haver. I’ve worked with a lot of men who have had a lot of penis in vagina sex but don’t really enjoy it.

Sex without dick pills (or even hard dicks)

Men are more likely to enjoy sex if they take pressure off their dicks. Millions of us find that different kinds of sexual activity can be extremely enjoyable, even if we don’t have a hard penis. After all, if we really want a reliably hard penis all the time, we could buy one and keep it in a drawer when we’re done with it. Good sex is more about what we create together rather than how well each individual is performing. True joy and pleasure is always mutual and co-created: if it’s not good for them it’s not good for us.

If we can focus less on our penis and instead connect with the world through our whole body we increase the possibilities for enjoying sex. There’s no miracle drug for this, but what can we do to make this easier? How can we create the right conditions in order for sex to be that little bit more satisfying? You might just want to try some breathing exercises and just tell yourself that erections can go but they can also come back really quickly. There’s a lot more advice about this in my resource about hard ons (which is all free).

Please leave a (nice) comment below if you like or ask me a question here.

© Justin Hancock, 2024 Find out more about me and BISH here.

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If you have a question that I’ve not already answered you can contact me here

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And you can also keep up with me via social medias (I’m not very active but I try to post when I’ve done a new thing). TikTok. Insta. Twitter. YouTube.

Did I mention that I’ve written a book? If you buy it via my Bookshop then I earn more money and that helps me keep this website running.

This website is free and free of adverts and thousands of people visit it every day. To keep it that way it relies on your support. Here are all of the ways you can support BISH and keep us going.

I’ve been a sex and relationships educator since 1999 (with a background in youth and community work). In that time I’ve taught and given advice about sex and relationships with thousands of young people in person and millions online. I’ve worked with many charities, local governments, schools and youth organisations facilitating training and workshops. My two books, Enjoy Sex (How, When, and If You Want To) and Can We Talk About Consent? are widely available around the world. I’ve been on the telly and the radio and have written articles for newspapers and magazines. I’m also a member of the World Association for Sexual Health. Read more about me and BISH here. Find out about my other work here Justin Hancock

If you’re over 18 and would like an advanced version of BISH check out my podcast Culture Sex Relationships. Also I’ve written a sex advice book for adults with Meg-John Barker called A Practical Guide to Sex available wherever you get books. We also did some zines to help you to figure out what you want from sex and relationships. They are at our website.

If you are an educator please don’t just show this website in class, they aren’t designed to be used as teaching resources. Instead, facilitate your own really great RSE with my resources at bishtraining.com.

Please leave a (nice) comment below if you like or ask me a question here.

© Justin Hancock, 2024 Find out more about me and BISH here.

See what else you can find out about today!

Or search by category

Or search by tags

A-Z of Porn About You Abuse Arousal Ask Bish Body Image Clitoris Communication Condoms Consent Contraception Coronavirus Dry Humping Ejaculation Erection Feelings Friendships Gender Kissing Law Love Masturbation Oral Sex Orgasm Parents Penis Pleasure Porn Positions Pregnancy Pressure Relationships Safer Sex Saying No Self Care Self Esteem Services Sex Education Sexting STIs Teach yourself Team Bish The Right Time Trust Vagina

If you have a question that I’ve not already answered you can contact me here

Did you find my advice helpful? How would you make it better? Please let me know in this quick survey. It would really help me a lot and it’s also really nice to hear to hear from you!

Most of my readers like to stay updated via email. So sign up here and get an automatic email every time I post a new resource on here.

And you can also keep up with me via social medias (I’m not very active but I try to post when I’ve done a new thing). TikTok. Insta. Twitter. YouTube.

Did I mention that I’ve written a book? If you buy it via my Bookshop then I earn more money and that helps me keep this website running.

This website is free and free of adverts and thousands of people visit it every day. To keep it that way it relies on your support. Here are all of the ways you can support BISH and keep us going.

I’ve been a sex and relationships educator since 1999 (with a background in youth and community work). In that time I’ve taught and given advice about sex and relationships with thousands of young people in person and millions online. I’ve worked with many charities, local governments, schools and youth organisations facilitating training and workshops. My two books, Enjoy Sex (How, When, and If You Want To) and Can We Talk About Consent? are widely available around the world. I’ve been on the telly and the radio and have written articles for newspapers and magazines. I’m also a member of the World Association for Sexual Health. Read more about me and BISH here. Find out about my other work here Justin Hancock

If you’re over 18 and would like an advanced version of BISH check out my podcast Culture Sex Relationships. Also I’ve written a sex advice book for adults with Meg-John Barker called A Practical Guide to Sex available wherever you get books. We also did some zines to help you to figure out what you want from sex and relationships. They are at our website.

If you are an educator please don’t just show this website in class, they aren’t designed to be used as teaching resources. Instead, facilitate your own really great RSE with my resources at bishtraining.com.

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