A 2003 study by New Zealand’s University of Canterbury found women (aged 33-68) had concerns ranging from the loss of spontaneity to suspected infidelity.
"When Viagra came along, the whole foreplay thing just vanished," said one.
"I’m just worried that he might be getting reliant on it," another confessed.
"Viagra has made a lot of people feel inadequate," said another respondent. "Everybody’s on the defensive about how often they have sex in the older age group."
It seems many women whose partners are riding the Viagra wave find the pressure all too much. With each pill costing about $17-$20, many men try to get their money’s worth by having sex multiple times in a short period. The increased frequency can be physically and emotionally trying for many women. That the woman might not feel like sex can be overridden by the man’s determination to get the most out of the opportunity.
According to Brett McCann, the couples who have enjoyed the most success using Viagra are the ones who stop and think about the impact renewed sexual vigour might have on the way they interact. "If a man is considering trying Viagra, I would advise him to talk to his partner from the very beginning."
McCann suggests the reintroduction of sex needs to be collaborative and slow. "Extreme intimacy can be a major change for a couple who haven’t been sexual for a while. It’s not like getting back on a bike – it takes time."
Sex and relationships therapist Pamela Supple agrees, adding that women’s perspective on sex can be quite different. "Women are often quite happy with just the companionship and don’t need the sex so much, but if the man wants suddenly to be more sexual then the woman will have to adjust," she says. "It can result in mismatched libidos."
Contrary to popular perception, Viagra is not an aphrodisiac. Fears that a partner will become promiscuous once they’ve popped a pill are largely unfounded. "It doesn’t make someone sex-crazed," McCann explains. "The ability to have an erection isn’t necessarily going to make someone have an affair. Viagra is not responsible for that moral choice."
Heide McConkey agrees. "If men stray, it’s usually because of relationship problems, not because of Viagra."
As one woman in the Canterbury study put it, "Why can’t they accept that life changes and it’s OK if you can’t have an erection? What’s the big deal?"
The big deal, says Pamela Supple, is that for many of us sex is important, no matter how old we are. "It’s a myth that older people don’t want to have sex anymore. There are lots of older people who frequently have sex right up until the day they die."
It’s an exhausting thought to some but clearly for others it is an invitation to drink from the fountain of eternal youth. As Brett McCann sees it, as long as it’s a shared adventure, Viagra need not have a downside. "It’s a joint decision," he says. "It’s not just about his penis, it’s about his relationship." From HealthSmart Magazine - Dec/Jan 2008/2009