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Spice Of Life: Coitus’ Little Helpers

by Ericka Rachelle Mendoza

Energetic, acrobatic-style, rejuvenating, sensual, voluptuous, wild, raunchy, daily sex holds a slew of health benefits for men and woman. More relaxed sleep. Increased immunity for both. Orgasms can block pain, so having sex can help ease headaches or muscle aches or menstrual cramps—less prostate cancer for men. But, what happens when, for various reasons, you lose the drive and the ability to, ahem, perform and/or get wet?

Luckily, the wonderfully-thoughtful folks at pharmaceutical companies like Pfizer have created multiple sexual dysfunction drugs (but, more for men than women). Some of these drugs have become household names, like Viagra. In 2012, sales for Viagra, "the little blue pill," totaled more than $2 billion dollars. Viagra’s true calling came to light in the 1990s when volunteers for clinical trials of the drug (created to treat high blood pressure) reported increased sexual libido and erections while on the drug. Since then, doctors everywhere have been prescribing the drug, which works by inducing "naturally occurring nitric oxide, which relaxes muscles in the penis and increases blood flow," according to LiveScience.com.

Viagra may be one of the most popular choices for men when it comes to little sexual helpers, but there are still a multitude of options for men including Cialis, Levitra and Alprostadil, which users inject into the base of their penis a few minutes before having sex and can help you maintain an erection for about an hour.

And, while more than 20 drugs have been approved by the Federal Drug Administration for male sexual dysfunction, only one has managed to emerge to combat the same sexual issues for women. Addyi, also known as Flibanserin, was approved barely two years ago to treat certain sexual issues for women.

Pharmaceuticals might be the way to go for both men and women who want to maintain and enjoy ongoing sexual health, but every drug comes with its own laundry list of negative side effects. For Viagra alone, side effects include pain, upset stomach, headaches, blurred vision and could lead to seizures and heart attacks—no small price to pay for pleasure.

MagicBluePill.com allows Viagra users to share stories online. Posts are humorous ("My wife is in charge of ordering") and inspiring ("I don’t care about side effects, I’m back in the saddle again!"), but there are still some users who have had negative experiences.

Just last year, a 66-year-old Columbian man took so much Viagra that he developed gangrene on his penis from being swollen for too many days in a row. A Columbian newspaper covering the story also reported that the man had to have his penis amputated, or the infection would have killed him.

Still, some professionals recommend making sure you have a stable, equally-committed relationship before introducing pharmaceuticals into the equation.

"Couples really need to talk about what each partner in the relationship expects," New York couples counselor Jane Greer, Ph.D. (What About Me?: Stop Selfishness From Ruining Your Relationship) told NBCNews.com. "The drug can highlight problems about which member of the couple puts him or herself first, which one is thoughtful and which isn’t—creating all sorts of conflict."

Western medicine isn’t the only choice, though. Holistic medical practitioners recommend natural alternatives in the form of herbs like Ginseng, Maca, Gingko Biloba, Kava and Horny Goat Weed (yes, it’s a real thing) for those who are sexually-challenged. And simply changing lifestyle habits could also work wonders in reversing effects of sexual dysfunction. Exercise, a balanced diet and limiting cigarettes/alcohol are factors that all work together to maintain good sexual health.