Hims’ Viagra on demand does not guarantee good sex

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“[Forty] percent of men aged 40 fail to get and maintain an erection, ”exclaims the website of Hims, a recently launched telemedicine startup that sells generic versions of popular treatments for baldness and erectile dysfunction . Are you worried about being in that 40%? Hims has a solution: With the help of sildenafil (also known as Generic Viagra), you can have “an erection when you want one, not just when your penis says it’s okay.”

“Nobody wants to go to the doctor,” says Hims founder and CEO Andrew Dudum as we speak on the phone. With a “sensitive and uncomfortable subject” like erectile dysfunction, asking for help can be especially daunting. The Hims model allows users to upload photos and chat with a doctor remotely. Instead of having a face-to-face conversation with your doctor (or sex therapist), you can submit your information online and sign up for a monthly erectile dysfunction drug subscription. You don’t even have to worry about whether or not your insurance company will cover your prescription: Hims sells low-cost generic drugs directly to consumers, which eliminates the equation completely. (Currently, Hims exclusively offers sildenafil. Cialis and Levitra are not currently available as generics.)

Yet in their attempt to help men avoid embarrassing conversations about erectile embarrassment, Hims aggressively promotes the idea that a healthy sex life is one where erections happen on demand and last as long as you need them. wish. This is a message that some sexual health professionals find disturbing. His may help you maintain your erection, but it won’t help you understand your body, your sexuality, or give you a broader understanding of pleasure. Destigmatizing men’s erection problems is a noble mission, but the company’s claim that it is “weird” to leave a frustrating, flabby limb without medication does far more harm than good.

While many of us assume that instantly hard, long-lasting erections are not only desirable, but a sign of healthy, “normal” sexuality, the reality is much more complicated. Chris Donaghue, author of Sex outside the box: authentic sexuality in a sexually dysfunctional culturetells me that much of what we call “dysfunctional” about erectile performance is just a natural part of aging. “When you’re in your 40s, you should expect erectile frustration about 40% of the time,” says Donaghue, noting that the figure increases by about 10% with each passing decade. ” It’s clean. It is not a disorder. It’s normal.”

Even when erectile dysfunction is an accurate diagnosis, drugs are rarely warranted as a first-line treatment, especially in young men that Hims targets, says Donaghue. Young men’s erection problems often have mental and emotional causes, says TT Baum, a San Francisco-based sex educator who works in the field with clients struggling with sexual problems. For these men, Hims’ promise of embarrassment-free treatment may seem particularly appealing: If you’re overwhelmed by the thought of talking about your anxiety-induced erectile dysfunction, a pill you order online may seem like the solution. easy. But that doesn’t resolve the underlying anxiety – and in some cases, the pills can make the situation worse, making users feel that their sexual fulfillment requires medication. An article on the Hims blog notes that erectile dysfunction can have psychological causes that are not easily resolved by taking a pill, but you have to search to find this information. Its impact is somewhat mitigated by the promo code for Hims that appears at the top of the page.

Additionally, sildenafil is a prescription drug, which has side effects. Painful erections lasting several hours sometimes take users to the hospital (and in the worst case, destroy their ability to get an erection again). But headaches, vision loss, indigestion and diarrhea are also quite common; rarer side effects include swelling of the face, kidney problems, laryngitis and, perversely, an inability to experience orgasm.

These are just the physical side effects; mental disorders can also occur. Regular use of sildenafil can cause a kind of disconnection, where the erection is not related to “emotional / psychological arousal state,” but rather is fueled by chemical assistance, Donaghue says. This disconnection can drive an even bigger wedge between men and their emotions, and make users who crave easy, automatic erection even more drug-dependent. Men who view good sex as synonymous with the presence of an erection – any erection, no matter how emotionally disconnected they are from it – are especially prone to develop addiction to erectile dysfunction drugs, says Baum. These drugs can promote an attitude of “if I don’t have to do the job, why should I?” Baum said.

While making younger men addicted to sildenafil can be a profitable business model, it’s not a great way to promote healthy attitudes toward sex, Baum notes.

“Sex isn’t about performance,” Donaghue tells me. “It’s not about whether you’re hard or not, it’s about ‘How does that feel?’” Instead of seeing a disappointing erection as a problem, Donaghue encourages clients to see it as an opportunity. to broaden their understanding of sex and intimacy. are really on the verge of moving away from a performance-based, penis-centric model that he sees as “really shitty sex.”

Hims offers a solution for men who feel frustrated with their sexual performance, a solution that promises on-demand access to erections without the embarrassment of seeking medical help. But truly coming into contact with your sexuality means facing, not avoiding, all of the embarrassments and anxieties of being human. Buying a pill online may seem like an easy alternative, but in the long run, it makes accessing genuine sexual pleasure much more difficult.

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