Rising Viagra Consumption – It’s More Than Just Physical
By – Anura
Almost 20 years ago, the “magic blue pill” that had taken the world by storm entered India to much silent rejoicing by men all over the country. The days of obtaining imported Viagra in the grey economy were finally over, but the stigma around the use of such drugs was much more prevalent. However, lately, there has been a steep surge in the usage of Viagra and its cheaper variants, which can be obtained in the form of over-the-counter drugs, for which, unlike the authentic pill, no prescription is needed. This trend is a cause for worry according to those in the medical profession as this surge in consumption might stem from unrealistic expectations related to performance in the bedroom and can lead to several health issues.
An Upward Sloping Graph
The consumption of sex enhancing pills has sky rocketed in the last 10 years. The All India Organisation of Chemists and Druggists (AIOCD) had reported in 2010 that 18000 units of the drug were sold in India in the month of June. Come 2018, the sale of Viagra had increased to 26000 units being sold in the same month. In monetary terms, the sales in June 2010 amounted to rupees 180 crores, which saw a 98% increase to reach rupees 357 crores in June 2018.
According to doctors, prescribing sex enhancement drugs is the last resort. In fact, in a statement given by Dr. KK Aggarwal (former president of the Indian Medical Association (IMA)) to ThePrint, only 1 in 20 patients suffering from erectile dysfunction or other issues related to sexual health are prescribed such drugs, that too mostly to men in the 40-50 year age bracket. One major reason for this is the multitude of side-effects that are caused by such pills. Increasingly, men between 20-30 years are succumbing to Viagra addiction, which causes them to consume the drug in unnecessary large amounts, leading to disorientation, tremors, seizures and prolonged and painful erections.
Despite the side effects and the unwillingness to prescribe on the doctors’ part, sales of Viagra are on the rise.
The Pill and Mental Health
The paradox mentioned above points to a larger problem at hand, that of mental health, unrealistic expectations and myths related to the pill. More and more men in their 20s and 30s are visiting hospitals to get themselves checked for erectile dysfunction and hormonal disorders, and most have imagined symptoms which they believe are related to their sexual health. While some may be suffering from the actual disorder, majority of them are suffering from a bout of anxiety and low self esteem. Even when doctors discourage men from consuming sex enhancing pills, simply for the lack of need, many of them still go ahead and procure the drugs, the accessibility increased by the lack of check on the distribution of counterfeit versions.
If we take a look at the larger picture, the rise in consumption Viagra indicates a much larger issue of perpetual stress and anxiety, coupled with lack of sex education and a whole generation basing its expectations of performance inside their bedrooms on porn. The over emphasis of hegemonic masculinity on sexual performance and size of the phallus, informed by the popular narrative in media and culture around us, has pushed numerous men into taking sexual enhancement supplements.
Adding on to that, as women become more and more proactive inside the bedroom in voicing their expectations and needs, those men who have been taught a completely different lesson through porn might feel emasculated and turn to consuming the pill under pressure.
The issue cannot be removed from the larger social context that it is set in. The rampant consumption of sex enhancement pills should be seen from the lens of mental health and social prejudice of the phallus-centric measurement of masculinity. Instead of rushing to the pharmacy and popping the pill at the slightest of performance anxiety inside the bedroom, men should consult an expert and be willing to overcome the stress and anxiety first. But for that to happen, the stigma around men’s sexual health issues needs to be gone. Some might say it’s a long way to go, but hopefully, someday we will reach that point.