The Viagra Myth: The Surprising Impact On Love And Relationships

Overview

The Book That Reveals the Truth About the "Little Blue Pill"

"A delightful and thoughtful book on a timely topic by a sincere, wise, and experienced clinician. It is full of insights for men, women, and couples and is very well written. I recommend it highly."
–Arnold Robbins, M.D., associate clinical professor of psychiatry, Tufts Medical School, and Distinguished Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association

"As a physician with vast experience treating men with sexual ...

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Overview

The Book That Reveals the Truth About the "Little Blue Pill"

"A delightful and thoughtful book on a timely topic by a sincere, wise, and experienced clinician. It is full of insights for men, women, and couples and is very well written. I recommend it highly."
–Arnold Robbins, M.D., associate clinical professor of psychiatry, Tufts Medical School, and Distinguished Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association

"As a physician with vast experience treating men with sexual dysfunction, Dr. Morgentaler explains the facts and the fantasies about Viagra and erectile dysfunction in a way that every man and woman can understand."
–Irwin Goldstein, M.D., director, Institute for Sexual Medicine, and professor, urology and gynecology, Boston University School of Medicine

"Ever wish you could listen to what men say to each other about sex? Or better yet, listen in on a completely honest and open discussion between your man and his doctor? Read this book and get the inside scoop on sex, love, and Viagra. After this, you’ll know what to ask (and what not to say) to get the loving intimacy you want in your own relationship."
–Bonnie St. John, author, Succeeding Sane: Making Room for Joy in a Crazy World

"Dr. Morgentaler is a rare breed of physician: psychologically savvy and perceptive about the way both men and women experience love and sexuality. The Viagra Myth is an intriguing commentary on the sexual notions of our society."
–Laura Berman, Ph.D., coauthor, For Women Only: A Revolutionary Guide to Reclaiming Your Sex Life, cohost of Berman & Berman on the Discovery Channel, and codirector of the Network for Excellence in Women’s Sexual Health

"This is a wonderful book that provides a new and unique perspective on human sexuality. Women and men who read The Viagra Myth will learn how sexual dysfunction impacts a relationship and about the pros and cons of the drug Viagra. I will definitely recommend it to all of my female patients."
–Jennifer Berman, M.D., coauthor, For Women Only: A Revolutionary Guide to Reclaiming Your Sex Life, cohost of Berman & Berman on the Discovery Channel, and assistant professor of urology and director, Female Sexual Medicine Center, UCLA School of Medicine

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Morgentaler, a practicing urologist and a professor at Harvard Medical School who has done research on erectile dysfunction, wants to explode the "notion of Viagra as an automatic solution, as the quick fix to all sexual problems." He has no problems with the millions of prescriptions of Viagra that doctors have make since the drug was introduced in 1998. But he is effective at presenting facts that are not so well known, such as that the drug works in 80% of men with performance anxiety but only two-thirds of men with other types of erectile dysfunction. What he does best, however, is to demonstrate how "a firm erection cannot solve deeper problems." Each chapter describes a situation in which a patient who thought that Viagra was the answer to his problems finds that there are other explanations. In one, a man learns that his performance problems have to do with the lack of trust he and his partner share; in another, a man who thinks that Viagra will make his sexual performance last the right time learns that "studies have shown that humans average only a minute and a half for the sexual encounters." Short bullet-point summaries of important information at the end of each chapter and an excellent section of "Frequently Asked Questions About Viagra" help make this book an important resource for both physicians and patients who are contemplating prescribing or using the drug, but who may be doing so for all the wrong reasons. (Oct.) (Piblishers Weekly, August 18, 2003)

"...reveals for the first time the drug's popularity is waning as it leaves a trail of broken relationships and shattered expectations in its wake." (The Independent, 27 August 2003)

"...warns that the drug may be killing passion rather than igniting it." (The New Zealand Herald, 28 August 2003)

"...argues that the drug's side effects are not so much medical as emotional." (The Independent, 29 August 2003)

Viagra can help many men, asserts urologist Morgentaler (Harvard Medical Sch.; The Male Body). But its cure-all-penises reputation is only a myth. It is most effective for erectile dysfunction caused by performance anxiety, less so for premature ejaculation and for medically caused problems. Viagra cannot supply desire, guarantee partner satisfaction, or rescue a relationship aground on different issues. Moreover, secret use of the drug can raise issues of trust and honesty with a partner. Yet there are effective treatments for when Viagra fails-injections, implants, vacuum devices, and couple therapy. Morgentaler's needed corrective is readable and well organized, with case histories and summaries - plus a chapter on gay relationships. Unfortunately, it lacks a resource section, guidelines for finding a doctor/therapist, and illustrations. A good general work on sexual dysfunction is Lawrence Hakim's The Couple's Disease, and Robert Butler and Myrna Lewis's The New Love and Sex After 60 is also highly recommended. Morgentaler's books is a valuable if imperfect addition to collections where Viagra books circulate frequently. (Index not seen.) —Martha Cornog, Philadelphia (Library Journal, October 1, 2003)

Publishers Weekly
Morgentaler, a practicing urologist and a professor at Harvard Medical School who has done research on erectile dysfunction, wants to explode the "notion of Viagra as an automatic solution, as the quick fix to all sexual problems." He has no problems with the millions of prescriptions of Viagra that doctors have made since the drug was introduced in 1998. But he is effective at presenting facts that are not so well known, such as that the drug works in 80% of men with performance anxiety but only two-thirds of men with other types of erectile dysfunction. What he does best, however, is to demonstrate how "a firm erection cannot solve deeper problems." Each chapter describes a situation in which a patient who thought that Viagra was the answer to his problems finds that there are other explanations. In one, a man learns that his performance problems have to do with the lack of trust he and his partner share; in another, a man who thinks that Viagra will make his sexual performance last the right time learns that "studies have shown that humans average only a minute and a half for their sexual encounters." Short bullet-point summaries of important information at the end of each chapter and an excellent section on "Frequently Asked Questions About Viagra" help make this book an important resource for both physicians and patients who are contemplating prescribing or using the drug, but who may be doing so for all the wrong reasons. (Oct.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Viagra can help many men, asserts urologist Morgentaler (Harvard Medical Sch.; The Male Body). But its cure-all-penises reputation is only a myth. It is most effective for erectile dysfunction caused by performance anxiety, less so for premature ejaculation and for medically caused problems. Viagra cannot supply desire, guarantee partner satisfaction, or rescue a relationship aground on different issues. Moreover, secret use of the drug can raise issues of trust and honesty with a partner. Yet there are effective treatments for when Viagra fails-injections, implants, vacuum devices, and couple therapy. Morgentaler's needed corrective is readable and well organized, with case histories and summaries-plus a chapter on gay relationships. Unfortunately, it lacks a resource section, guidelines for finding a doctor/therapist, and illustrations. A good general work on sexual dysfunction is Lawrence Hakim's The Couple's Disease, and Robert Butler and Myrna Lewis's The New Love and Sex After 60 is also highly recommended. Morgentaler's books is a valuable if imperfect addition to collections where Viagra books circulate frequently. (Index not seen.)-Martha Cornog, Philadelphia Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780787968014
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 9/24/2003
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 224
  • Product dimensions: 9.00 (w) x 6.00 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Abraham Morgentaler, M.D., F.A.C.S., is an associate clinical professor at Harvard Medical School and director of Men’s Health Boston. An expert in the field of male sexual function and dysfunction, he is the author of The Male Body: A Physician’s Guide to What Every Man Should Know About His Sexual Health (1993) and has published in such prominent medical journals as The New England Journal of Medicine, The Lancet, and The Journal of the American Medical Association.
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Read an Excerpt


The Viagra Myth



The Surprising Impact On Love And Relationships


By Abraham Morgentaler


John Wiley & Sons



Copyright © 2003

Abraham Morgentaler
All right reserved.



ISBN: 0-7879-6801-3





Introduction


In 1998, Viagra was first introduced to the world, and it is fair to say
that the world has not been the same since. The impact of this
medication has been enormous, not just in the narrow area of treating
erectile dysfunction (ED) for which it was approved, but also in
the way we think of sex and sexuality, and even in the realm of
relationships between men and women.

Millions of men in the United States have tried Pfizer's wonder
drug, sildenafil, better known as Viagra, and there are thus millions
of women who have also seen its effects on their husbands,
boyfriends, and lovers. Many other millions of men and women
wonder about whether Viagra can offer a solution for their own
sexual and emotional problems or for the problems of their partners.
We human beings are sexual animals, after all. And unfortunately,
our sex lives are not always the way we want them to be. So
it's no surprise that when sex goes sour, relationships suffer in other
ways as well.

As a practicing urologist in Boston on the faculty of Harvard
Medical School, I have treated many men with sexual problems
andmany couples who have sexual issues in their relationships. I
knew about the development of Viagra before it was introduced to
the public and was involved in its clinical application as soon as
the Food and Drug Administration approved the new drug. I had
anticipated using Viagra primarily for older patients with well-established
erectile dysfunction, but it didn't take long before I realized
that I had completely underestimated the huge extent of
public interest in trying this new medication. For example, shortly
after Viagra became available, an orthopedic surgeon came up to
me in the surgeons' lounge as I was having a cup of coffee between
operations.

"Tell me," he said, "what should I know about prescribing
Viagra? I have a patient who I think should try it."

Now I have great respect for my orthopedic colleagues, but
I have yet to meet one who would take on the treatment of a
problem outside his area of expertise in bones and cartilage. It was
quite clear that this surgeon's patient was none other than himself!

Everyone wants to know about Viagra, and many are interested
in trying it, whether or not they think they have an erection problem.
When I lecture to students at Harvard Medical School about
sexuality, there are always a good number of Viagra questions, such
as, "What happens when a young, healthy man with normal sexual
function takes Viagra?" Or "Can a woman tell during sex that her
partner has taken Viagra?" Or "Is it true that Viagra increases a
man's sex drive?" No one ever falls asleep in those classes!

Viagra quickly tapped into a set of wishful fantasies that mirrored
our culture's hunger for certainty and the quick fix. Supported
by stories that described elderly men restored to such sexual vitality
by Viagra that they abandoned their wives in favor of younger
women, a conventional wisdom arose that Viagra was a fountain of
youth, a sure cure, the real deal. Baby boomers could now look forward
to fabulous sex well into their nineties. Men shared Viagra
stories with each other at cocktail parties or around the office water
cooler.

"All I can say is 'Wow!'" says one man, and other men listening
in wonder how their lives might be different if they also took
the magic blue pill.

Women too have been targeted to confirm Viagra's ability to
create satisfaction and serenity within a relationship where frustration
and friction had once been the rule. One of the most successful
early Pfizer ads showed a series of couples happily dancing
together after Viagra apparently cured the loss of rhythm in their
relationship.

Former senator and presidential candidate Bob Dole appeared
in Pfizer ads soon after Viagra's introduction and instantly turned
into household words the terms Viagra and ED. Viagra jokes
became a staple of comedy acts on late-night television (Have you
heard the one about the man who swallowed Viagra, but it stuck in
his throat? He wound up with a very stiff neck!), thus ensuring its
place in our cultural lexicon. Viagra tapped into both our fantasies
and our embarrassment about sexuality in a way that no other drug
had ever done. When, for example, was the last time you heard a
joke about a new cholesterol-lowering medication?

Skillful marketing contributed to our perception of Viagra as
the pill that put the "man" in "manly." Star professional athletes-vigorous
men such as baseball's Most Valuable Player Rafael
Palmeiro of the Texas Rangers and NASCAR driver Mark
Martin-endorse the medication in widely seen advertisements.
Other kinds of athletes use Viagra as well. Hugh Hefner, the aging
head of the Playboy empire who is known for his bevy of beautiful
blondes, gives Viagra credit for maintaining his pleasure quotient.
Rumor has it that he provides bowls of Viagra tablets at his famous
parties.

Magical Viagra. A wonder drug. Or so we have come to
believe. But does the reality live up to the myth? Is it really that
good? Can it truly solve erection problems? What about relationship
issues? What does Viagra do for a man who has lost his sexual
desire or for a man who is simply nervous about having sex with a
new partner? What's the real story?


* * *


As someone who treats men with Viagra nearly every day, I can testify
to the remarkable effects of this medication. For many men and
their partners, Viagra has unquestionably brought about significant
improvements in their lives, and to a degree that was not previously
possible with other treatments. And yet there is clearly much
more to the story of human sexuality and relationships than the
Viagra Myth would have us believe. The Viagra Myth has less to do
with the effectiveness of the medication than with our cultural
propensity to look for the easy fix. This myth suggests that a pill
that improves blood flow to the penis can solve personal relationship
issues, no matter how complex.

I started wondering about the disconnect between the Viagra
Myth and reality soon after I had started prescribing the medication.
John, a fifty-five-year-old man married for over twenty years,
saw me three months after I had prescribed Viagra as treatment for
his erectile dysfunction, with which he had suffered for over two
years.

"So, John, how's the Viagra working out for you?" I asked.

"Well, it works, Doc. But I don't take it anymore."

"Why not?"

"To tell you the truth, my wife and I decided to separate. All
this time, I'd thought that if I could have sex with her again, everything
would work out fine. But it turns out that our problems are
bigger than the sex thing. So we're splitting up."

Viagra had done wonders for John's erection problem but nothing
toward solving his relationship problem.

Then there was Chester, who at seventy-one years old had
initially complained that his erections were only semifirm. Sex with
his wife had become awkward and unsatisfying, and he asked
specifically for a prescription for Viagra. It seemed a reasonable
request, and his physical exam revealed no health risks, so I prescribed
the medication. When Chester returned to the office several
months later, he reported on various other medical issues but
never mentioned how he was doing sexually, even though that had
been the main concern for him at his last visit.

"Did you ever try the Viagra?" I asked.

Chester gave me a big smile, and there was a gleam in his eye.
"Oh, the Viagra! Well, it definitely makes me harder!" he chuckled.
"But I don't need it. The wife and I are okay with how things
are going without it. I don't want to spoil her, you know!"

John and Chester are just two examples of the many men for
whom Viagra works in a physical sense as it is supposed to, but the
medication failed to meet their expectations in other ways. Even
when Viagra works, men like John and Chester often do not want
to take it, and their reasons vary. Although I saw these men in my
practice every day and intently followed their stories, I was still surprised
to learn that the refill rate for Viagra prescriptions is less than
50 percent. What happened to the old crude joke that all a man
needs in order to be happy is a hard penis and a place to put it?
Could our perception of Viagra and our sense of masculine sexuality
be so out of kilter with reality?

Surprisingly the answer is yes. The Viagra Myth, which
promotes the notion of the hard penis as the salvation of sexual
relationships, is so pervasive that even professionals in the field
bought into it. After reflecting on cases like those of John and
Chester and their partners, I began to see an enormous gulf between
appearances and reality when sexual relationships are in question.

Many of my male patients, together with many of their partners,
came to realize that finally achieving a great erection did not
solve their relationship problems. In fact, it frequently made them
worse. As with John and his wife, sometimes when the erection
issue is solved, couples are forced to deal with more profound troubles
in the relationship.

As I listened to my patients, I came to see that our culture had
taken Viagra and created a legend out of it that went far beyond its
actual pharmacological properties. People had come to expect that
taking a little blue pill could solve their personal and relationship
problems, no matter how complex those difficulties were. I heard
variations on this theme almost daily. Men or their partners
requested prescriptions for Viagra for all sorts of problems, sometimes
with the barest of sexual symptoms: a lack of desire, struggles
in existing relationships, fear of intimacy, or a desire to be a sexual
superstud, for example. The range of issues for which men could
envision successful treatment only with Viagra was astounding to
me. This aura surrounding a medication that enhances blood flow
to the penis is clearly a reflection of who we are and our desire for
the easy, quick fix. I have called this exaggerated sense of Viagra as
a wonder drug for various complex issues the Viagra Myth.

Yes, the drug is enormously powerful, and it can be a lifesaver
for many men, but it has also turned a bright spotlight on previously
hidden areas of sexuality and relationships. In particular, it
forces couples to decide what is real in their relationships and what
is not. I have come to see Viagra as providing a window into the
psyche of men, and perhaps indirectly into the psyche of women as
well, since women are not immune from unduly high expectations
regarding the benefits of Viagra and its potential to provide sexual
healing.

The lessons I have learned by listening to my patients and their
partners form the basis of this book, and in the pages that follow I
share the stories of those who have taught me so much about sex and
sexuality and, by extension, about personal growth and humanity.

The lessons to be learned are startling, profound, and often
inspiring. What does it mean for a man to lose his sense of masculinity
and self-esteem? How does this loss manifest itself in the
relationship between him and his partner? How do couples survive
when a man loses the ability to function sexually? What is it like
when his sexual powers return? What is it like for a woman to have
her partner restored to his "youthful vigor" after a prolonged period
of inactivity?


* * *


This is a book about real people. The men and women who pass
through my office share intimate details of their lives that would
otherwise never see the light of day were it not for this book. Naturally,
names and details have been changed in order to preserve
privacy, and in many stories I have combined features from two or
more patients. Each story is unique, yet there are themes familiar
to every reader because of the commonality of human experience.
Men want to feel powerful and capable and accepted, to be able to
relate to their partners in a way that affirms these qualities. Women
want to feel attractive to their partners and emotionally connected.
When sex goes awry, particularly because of erection problems, not
only do relationships come crashing down, but men and women
lose their grip on these most fundamental human needs: secure
identity and intimate connection.

To be sure, the power of Viagra lies in its ability to correct a
man's erection problems. Whether this fix rights the ship depends
on the individuals involved and what they bring of themselves on
board. So often, as the stories that follow show, men and women
are at cross-purposes within their relationships and lack a shared
language for understanding each other. As we are continually
reminded by advertisements and testimonials in the media, Viagra
can help correct the erection problem. But if a man is worried only
about his lost machismo while his partner is concerned about a lack
of emotional intimacy, then the reappearance of a firm penis is not
likely to provide them with a happily-ever-after. Both will fall victim
to the Viagra Myth.


To dispel this myth and help readers distinguish between fact
and fiction, this book seeks to answer some of the questions most
frequently raised by my patients and their partners, such as the
following:

When is Viagra the "perfect" cure?

When is Viagra not a cure but an obstacle to a relationship?

How does a man determine whether his partner loves him or
Viagra?

What does a woman experience when she's with a man who
can function sexually only with Viagra?

If a man can function only with Viagra, does he continue to
think of himself as impotent or does he feel inauthentic?

Does Viagra make a man more virile, more attractive, and a
better lover?

What happens when a man doesn't tell his partner he's taking
Viagra? Will she know? Is it the same as lying?

What's the relationship between an erection and desire?

Can Viagra work after prostate cancer surgery?

If Viagra doesn't work for a man, will he ever be able to have
sex again?

Can a couple have sex without an erection?

Does Viagra make sex less spontaneous and more predictable?


I have written this book in the hope of provoking a more
thoughtful and frank discussion about sexuality than currently
exists. On a practical level, I hope that men and women can use
these stories as starting points to improve the dialogue they have
with each other in their relationships and ultimately to create a
more fully satisfying life for themselves. I also hope this book will
lead to the more realistic application of Viagra and other sexual
therapies for the benefit of all men, women, and their relationships.

(Continues...)







Excerpted from The Viagra Myth
by Abraham Morgentaler
Copyright © 2003 by Abraham Morgentaler.
Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

Dedication.

Acknowledgments.

Introduction.

Chapter 1: Viagra And The Perfect Cure.

Chapter 2: The Viagra Edge: Is Harder Better?

Chapter 3: Performance Anxiety and Viagra.

Chapter 4: Viagra And Desire.

Chapter 5: Viagra And Premature Ejaculation.

Chapter 6: When Viagra Doesn’t Work.

Chapter 7: The Viagra Myth In Gay Relationships.

Chapter 8: Viagra and Prostate Cancer.

Frequently Asked Questions About Viagra.

Epilogue: The Future Of The Viagra Myth.

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 30, 2003

    From a Female's Perspective....The Myth Revealed

    Finally a smart, upbeat, truly informative look at the REAL TRUTH of the'Miracle Blue Pill'. Real life situations, real people and what happened to them when they took it. A MUST READ for anyone who uses, wants to use, or is just curious about what Viagra can and can't do. A refreshing look at sexuality from a medical man with heart!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 26, 2003

    The Viagra Myth - An Honest Physician's Perspective

    Dr. Morgentaler's book is an excellent resource for the layman and physician who is interested in sexual dysfuntion. The book discusses the appropriate indications for prescribing either Viagra, other medications such as Testosterone, for sexual therapy, or even for surgery. Dr. Morgentaler outlines the limitations of Viagra, as well as its successes and failures from personal cases in his practice. I highly recommend this book to any sexually active male or female. It is written in a very personal yet objective and even handed style.

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