1. New erection pill packs the same old risks

    The last thing we need is yet another erection pill with the same risks as the old ones -- but that's just what the FDA is giving us.

    It's called Stendra, but don't bother remembering the name. You'll be hearing it in commercials soon enough now that the feds have signed off on it.

    Like Viagra, Cialis, and Levitra, the new med is a PDE5 inhibitor. The only real difference is that this new drug promises to work faster than the old ones -- supposedly getting things going in as little as 15 minutes, compared to an hour or more for the drugs already on the market.

    That might sound great -- but the side effects of PDE5 inhibitors are decidedly UN-sexy.

    They can cause headaches, forcing you to say "not now" just when you're ready. They can also give you back pain, which will really limit your bedroom activities, and even cause cold-like symptoms.

    Not exactly Harlequin romance material.

    These drugs have even caused men to go blind and deaf, which would really make it a challenge to use that drug-induced erection. And by the way, the famous "four-hour erections" mentioned in the commercials for these meds is a dangerous condition where blood can't leave the penis.

    It's called priapism -- and it requires an immediate trip to the emergency room, where the fastest way to relieve that pressure is to drain the blood with a needle, apply an ice pack, or inject a medication.


    But forget all the side effects (if you can -- I'm not sure it's possible to forget that last one). There's another reason to skip the meds when it comes to sexual health, and that's because the problems themselves are almost always a sign of another problem in the body.

    For example, the most common cause of erectile dysfunction is atherosclerosis. That's when your arteries get stiff from too much plaque -- and when your arteries get stiff, you can't get stiff in other places.

    Since atherosclerosis is also the leading cause of heart attacks, stroke, and more, it's something that needs to be fixed urgently. But if your only warning is erectile dysfunction and you can "fix" it with a sex med, you can ignore it... until the day your wife has to call the ambulance.

    In other cases, erection problems are caused by diabetes, poor nutrition, hormonal imbalances (especially low testosterone levels), stress, and even many prescription medications.

    A holistic doctor can help find the real cause of erection problems and correct it without the drugs or the risks.

  2. New questions over sex drugs

    "Not now, honey… I have a headache" is a phrase that's long been associated with the bedroom. But are more men saying it now?

    Headaches are one of the common side effects of sex drugs like Viagra, along with vision problems, hearing loss, difficulty breathing and more – including those infamous painful prolonged erections.

    And a new review published in Urology finds that we still don't know enough to make any conclusions about the long-term use of this pleasure pill. But the researchers did find that men who took Viagra were 56 percent more likely to experience any kind of side effects than the men who took a placebo. They also found that, naturally, the odds of side effects increased with higher dosages.

    Since none of the 39 studies they reviewed went beyond 12 weeks, these researchers want to see more long-term data on this drug. So do I – because more than a decade after these meds started to hit the market, we're missing the kinds of long-term research you'd expect by this point.

    What makes it all the more troubling is that few people realize they can cure their own sexual dysfunction without any meds at all.

    Most cases of erectile dysfunction – especially in older men – are due to physical conditions that are completely within your control. Obesity, spinal problems and cardiovascular problems can all cause or contribute to the condition.

    If you're in that boat, then the answer isn't a dangerous quick-fix solution courtesy of Big Pharma. It's to get your whole body functioning the way it should.

    You'd be amazed at how much better everything will work – especially that one private part – if you simply lose some weight, eat better and get some exercise. Some people might also benefit from acupuncture, chiropractic care and even massage therapy (no, not that kind!).

    One more note about those prolonged erections. They've been the butt of many late-night TV jokes, but they're no laughing matter.

    It's a condition called priapism, and the commercials tell you to call your doctor if you experience one. But there's no magic word he can say over the phone that will fix it – he'll simply tell you to get to the hospital as quickly as you can.

    These erections aren't just painful, they can lead to permanent damage. Most are relieved by inserting a needle into the penis to withdraw blood and inject a saline solution.

    Sometimes, surgery is needed. I'll spare you the details on that, but it's probably about as bad as what's running through your mind right now.

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