Photo: Jens Mortensen
Happy 10th birthday to Viagra. For the droves of men who no longer fret about rising to full salute, so to speak, it's a milestone worth celebrating. And for their wives and girlfriends…well, that's what we wanted to know. Research shows they're loving the pill-fueled sex, too, but nearly all the studies have been sponsored by pharmaceutical companies invested in erectile dysfunction drugs; hardly anyone has looked at the pill's psychological effects. Which is why we did our own survey. Take a look at the results from 436 women.
The Upside: About half of the respondents say their sex lives got better after their partners started taking Viagra—more satisfying for many, increased libido—and for 37 percent, the emotional intimacy deepened. According to 17 percent, the drug "saved" their relationship.
The downside: Forty-two percent object to chemically induced sex—many saying it's just not the same as the "real thing," or that they feel less excited or not as desirable—and 13 percent lament the reduced attention given to oral and manual lovemaking. More than a quarter feel they're less emotionally connected now. The few independent researchers who have studied women and Viagra are not surprised. Annie Potts, PhD, a professor at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand, says many of her subjects reported feeling compelled to have "sex on demand," either because they didn't want to waste a tablet (these things don't come cheap) or because they didn't want to let their man down. Meika Loe, PhD, author of The Rise of Viagra, notes that often women have already adjusted to—even come to favor—a more platonic relationship, and then find "the newfound pressure to be a sexual being a bit jarring," as was true for 9 percent of our survey takers. In fact, about a third of the women describe their mate's ability to have sex now at the drop of a pill "annoying."
Worst Side Effect: It seems there's some truth to the rumor that Viagra, in addition to renewing virility, is inspiring infidelity: One out of ten women says her partner cheated on her for the first time after taking the drug—which could help explain why 15 percent claim it destroyed their relationship and 12 percent decided to leave.
Not surprisingly, if a relationship is healthy, says Loe, adding Viagra usually strengthens the couple; if not, the drug can exacerbate their problems. As for a women's sex pill, one finding from our survey, which goes completely against the scientific consensus, is that half of those who have sampled their partner's stash say it worked for them, too.
How has Viagra affected your emotional intimacy?
The intimacy deepened
The intimacy lessened
The intimacy stayed the same
Since Viagra has he cheated on you?
Yes, but he cheated before
Yes; it was the first time I know of