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New Hope for a Very Personal Matter
While sex, actual or fantasised, probably constitutes the most-indulged-in preoccupation of the human race, sexual dysfunction may be the least-discussed. Thus little was known about bedroom maladies between couples until Viagra brought out of the closet problems of non-performance afflicting men.

The Seventh Asian Congress of Sexology, held in Singapore at the end of 2002, served as a platform for the traditionally reticent Asian community to peek at the taboo topic. INNOVATION's Lay Leng TAN spoke to Ronald W Lewis, past president of the International Society for Sexual and Impotence Research (ISSIR), to get an overview of current advances in erectile-dysfunction research.

rectile dysfunction (ED), the inability of the male to achieve or maintain an erection, poses a major sexual problem that affects not only the individual concerned but also his partner. Cutting across cultures and geographies, ED causes great devastation to the male not only physically but also psychologically in terms of self-esteem. (Although premature ejaculation is a more common ailment, it causes less distress, for somewhat obvious reasons.)

A little blue pill has taken the world by storm since 1998 and is proving successful for 70-80% of the male population using it. As a treatment for ED, Viagra ushered in a new era. Ronald W Lewis, a professor at the Medical College of Georgia in the United States, attributes its spectacular success to the non-invasive nature of its use by oral ingestion, enabling easy marketing to the public and hence its wide acceptance. Taking Viagra allows men to avoid the hassle of injection or implantation, or using something artificial such as a vacuum pump.

In view of the fact that it is effective with few side effects, the distinctive blue pill has become the most-prescribed drug marketed for any disease. Viagra has benefited scientists and physicians as well, because it brought ED out of the closet, removing the stigma that beleaguered afflicted males.

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