'Sex for life'? Men's counter-stories on 'erectile dysfunction', male sexuality and ageing
Potts A, Grace VM, Vares T, Gavey N.
School of Culture, Literature and Society,
University of Canterbury, New Zealand.
Sociol Health Illn. 2006 Apr;28(3):306-29. 1


Discourse on male sexuality in mid-to-later life has exploded in recent years (Gullette 1998). Attention to this topic has been spurred by the advent of (highly profitable) sexuopharmaceutical 'solutions' to erectile changes affecting older men. 'Success' stories abound in the media and in medical literature related to the restoration of faulty erections and ailing sex lives through drugs such as Viagra (sildenafil citrate), Uprima (apomorphine) and Cialis (tadalafil). In this paper we explore some of the ways in which notions about ageing and male sexuality are changing in popular cultural and medical texts in response to the advent of Viagra and the increasing authority of biomedicine in this area. We also demonstrate how the recent biomedical endorsement of 'sex for life' (the imperative to maintain an active youthful masculine [hetero]sexuality - defined in terms of male orgasm through penetrative sex) may be challenged by the very accounts of older men who are, or have been, affected by erectile difficulties and have used drugs like Viagra themselves. We present the perspectives of mid-to-late life heterosexual men in New Zealand whose stories question the contemporary biomedical privileging of erections and intercourse 'at any cost and at any age'. We argue that the current push to identify and treat so-called erectile dysfunction (and restore erections and penetrative sex to relationships) neglects some men's own experiences of alternative modes of relating sexually that they identify as 'normal', 'healthy', 'enjoyable' and 'satisfying' for them and their partners; and undermines their understanding of such changes as positive outcomes of ageing, experience and maturity.

Coolidge effect
PT-141 (bremelanotide)
Semen as an antidepressant?
Yohimbine and sexual performance
The pharmacology of penile erection
Tadalafil (Cialis): safety and efficacy
Homophobia and homosexual arousal
Sildenafil (Viagra) v vardenafil (Nuviva) v tadalafil (Cialis)
Selective phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitors: tadalafil (Cialis)

and further reading

Future Opioids
BLTC Research
Utopian Surgery?
The Abolitionist Project
The Hedonistic Imperative
The Reproductive Revolution
Critique of Huxley's Brave New World

The Good Drug Guide
The Good Drug Guide

The Responsible Parent's Guide
To Healthy Mood Boosters For All The Family