Erectile dysfunction (ED) can be a very distressing health issue many men face. However, the stigma of discussing ED also makes it an important social issue. Even commercials promoting ED treatments seem to portray a culture of silence in which men suffer alone until they visit a health care provider to discreetly secure Viagra or its alternatives.

We wondered whether this narrative contains an accurate portrayal of how men and women experience Viagra, the most commonly prescribed treatment for ED. To explore how the veil of anonymity has allowed men and women to open up virtual conversations about Viagra, we examined Reddit – a popular internet forum. Check out the results below to find out what people are saying about Viagra on Reddit.

Popular Subreddits That Discuss Viagra

To understand where people were talking about Viagra most often on Reddit, we identified subreddits with at least 100 mentions of Viagra within the last year. The list above displays the top 15 subreddits with the most Viagra mentions per 1,000 subscribers.

We found the subreddit MensHealth – a forum devoted to sharing news and opening discussions about topics related to men’s health – achieved first place in our rankings of subreddits with the most Viagra mentions per 1,000 subscribers. Conversations within this group include topics such as:

  • Users seeking recommendations for websites to safely purchase Viagra online.
  • Questions about the efficacy of generic Viagra.
  • Stories of men and women who are dealing with erectile dysfunction and looking for helpful solutions.
  • Testimonials from Redditors who have found solutions such as Viagra to treat their erectile dysfunction.

The subreddit KCRoyals secured the second-highest ranking on our list. Further research uncovered that these conversations stemmed from Kansas City Royals fans and other viewers expressing general distaste for the high number of Viagra commercials that aired during the 2014 Royals playoff games.

Third- and fourth-place rankings are held by subreddits dedicated to discussions about the use of anabolic steroids in those gym-goers seeking to build muscle and enhance their exercise performance. While it is legal in the U.K. to posses steroids for personal use, the regulations on this are strict, reflective of the damaging effects that they can have. This includes laws on the way that users obtain them, and people possessing or importing steroids in the wrong way can face up to 14 years in jail.

Viagra and steroids

Posts about Viagra within the subreddit SteroidSourceTalk were focused into two groups of conversation: posts mentioning sources for purchasing, and posts requesting information on obtaining Viagra without a prescription, which is not legal nor recommended. We see much more diversity in conversations within the subreddit Steroids, in which many posts share or seek feedback on the use of pre-workout Viagra to enhance performance or to counteract the effects that anabolic steroids can have on your sexual function (including causing erectile dysfunction). Gym-goers using anabolic steroids will sometimes choose to undergo something called post-steroid cycle therapy when they come off steroids, during which they may also use Viagra to try and boost their sex-drive and ability to get and keep erections, which will have been affected by the use of steroids.

Mayo Clinic confirms that Viagra’s uses include treatment of pulmonary arterial hypertension in the USA, as the drug increases blood flow to the lungs and reduces the heart’s workload. The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) does not list Viagra’s active ingredient sildenafil citrate as a banned substance, adding fuel to rumours that some athletes could be using Viagra currently as an athletic performance-enhancer.

Words Mentioned Alongside Relationship Terms

To gain more insight into Viagra as it relates to relationships, we looked at some popular relationship-status terms within Viagra posts including “boyfriend,” “girlfriend,” and “partner.” The illustration above shows word clouds that indicate the most frequently occurring terms within 10 words of  “boyfriend,” “girlfriend,” and “partner” within Viagra posts on Reddit. Each word’s size and colour represents the frequency of its appearance near the main subject.

“Viagra” appeared frequently near each of our main terms because all posts examined mentioned Viagra, with its most frequent appearance near the word “girlfriend.” This indicated that male Redditors are more commonly posting about Viagra on Reddit than women.This isn’t surprising since 80 percent of Reddit users are male and between the ages of 18 and 35. What this does suggest is that males seeking information about Viagra may be younger than generally perceived.

But typically, this isn’t the demographic targeted by the performance-enhancing drug. According to Pfizer, the pharmaceutical company that manufactures Viagra, most Viagra users are in their early to mid 50s. But this doesn’t mean the drug isn’t appealing to a younger demographic, or implying that younger males don’t experience ED – one study suggests that 1 out of 4 newly diagnosed patients with ED are under 40. Urologist Myron Murdock suggests that younger males have more pressure on them to perform, whereas older men may be more accepting of a degree of ED and therefore be content with a lower rate of satisfactory erections. Murdock, medical director of the Impotence Institute of America, goes on to say that it isn’t unsafe for younger men to use Viagra, if prescribed by a doctor.

Other conversations including both of the terms “partner” and “Viagra” centred around asking for advice about bedroom anxiety, using Viagra during a first sexual encounter with a new partner, and whether Viagra should be tested out before using it with a partner. We also found questions asking how Redditors would feel if their partner used Viagra without divulging that information as well as using Viagra regularly and seeking feedback on using Viagra for the sexual practice of swinging (also known as partner-swapping). There seems to be an endless number of situations that bring up unique and important questions about Viagra, erectile dysfunction, and the topics surrounding it.

Common Words Appearing Near “Viagra”

For a more holistic understanding of the conversation, we calculated the frequencies of other words found close to our main subject. The list above shows the words that were most often found within five words of “Viagra” on Reddit.

The term most commonly found in proximity is the drug name “Cialis,” a prescription brand also used in the treatment of erectile dysfunction. This indicates that commenters often group the two brands together in discussion, seeking or offering personal experience while comparing the drugs and their reputable sources. Other terms that appear on this list support this notion, such as “generic,” “drug,” “buy,” “online,” “ED,” “Levitra,” “doctor,” “effect,” and “prescription.”

Other top associated terms include “pill,” “commercial,” and “man,” which may indicate that television commercials for Viagra are a common catalyst for these Reddit conversations. Recalling KC Royals fans’ reaction to these commercials, Redditors’ general sentiment towards televised Viagra advertisement still remains unclear. Some posts indicate unfavourable responses regarding the narratives and messages they interpret from the television advertisements.

Common “Viagra” Phrases

In the chart above, we listed the most mentioned phrases of three or more words containing “Viagra” on Reddit. The top three rankings on our list further support our finding that Redditors most often use the forum as a necessary support system in their search for real-time user-generated feedback and recommendations about Viagra and similar drugs. Other top phrases include “drugs like Viagra” and “prescription for Viagra,” common ways to broach the subject of providing or seeking personal experiences with the medication. As the questions on Reddit suggest, not all drugs for erectile dysfunction are created equal. Dr. Louis Liou of Cambridge Health Alliance encourages new patients to test the various options to see which medication works best for their needs. The same medication can cause varied responses in different patients.

The terms “female” and “woman” appeared in the top 11 results on our previous list of words found within five words of “Viagra.” Is it simply common that these words would appear in conversations about drugs meant to arouse sexual response? The fifth-ranked phrase mentioning Viagra, “Viagra for women,” may point to another reason for the terms.

Users appear to be interested in so-called “female Viagra,” an FDA-approved prescription in the United States that goes by the brand name Addyi (active ingredient: flibanserin). This pill hasn’t been approved for use in the U.K. According to Jacqueline M. Thielen, M.D., 4 in 10 women report having sexual concerns. It’s important to remember that boosting sex drive is not an interest solely experienced by men.

Words Appearing Near “Viagra” and “Penis”

To understand more about conversations that may be indirectly related to Viagra, we determined the occurrence of terms most frequently found nearest to the word “penis.” In the illustration above, the bubbles’ size and colour represents how frequently the term was mentioned within five words of “penis” in posts that mentioned Viagra on Reddit. “Viagra” was mentioned most often in proximity to “penis,” followed by “blood,” “flow,” and “pump.”

On the more serious side of the conversation, we find Redditors posting about medical signs and symptoms related to the penis, documenting links to sexual health–related news, and sharing intimate stories that they feel comfortable rehashing anonymously. These conversations include stories of depression and anxiety regarding sexual function and experiences, and they contain words such as “orgasm” and “erection.”

Although it may not always be the best site for accurate medical information, one of the benefits felt by Reddit users may bet the often supportive responses from fellow Redditors. It’s a culture that can promote a feeling of safety by allowing a community to form around discussions that are less likely to occur in the non-digital realm. With their veil of anonymity, people engage openly in dialogue about their innermost thoughts, concerns, doubts, and queries. We saw many earnest questions about what is normal or common regarding penis qualities, which included terms such as “size,” “hard,” and “flaccid.” In these posts, there is an openness in the conversation, where other Redditors will ask for more detail or offer a supportive message. And although online communities, like Reddit, may be comforting to those who feel alone in their struggle with ED, these forums are not the place to seek medical advice. As with any health condition, any medical queries should be brought to the attention of a trained healthcare professional. At onlinedoctor.Alpha XR.com you can get the medical advice you need in a reliable and discrete manner.

Conclusion

We found that the level of detail in the questions and answers on Reddit provide users with a way of seeking out extra information anonymously that members might use before and after visiting medical professionals. Whether Reddit subscribers use the forum to detail their own experiences or request feedback from others, the subreddits are full of honest, unadulterated expression.

If you are interested in or are experiencing a medical condition and want to learn from other’s experiences, Reddit can be a vast resource of information and helpful supporters. Whilst a doctor should be your first port of call for any medical condition, support groups offer connection with a community of people dealing with similar scenarios to yours.

While these online communities can be helpful, the information presented may not necessarily correct and can be discouraging and upsetting to those suffering from ED. When seeking the right treatment or course of action, it’s important to be educated about your own body and to be honest with a doctor, pharmacist or nurse, so that you can get accurate information to address your worries.

It’s Time to Talk About Erectile Dysfunction

If you or your partner are experiencing sexual challenges such as erectile dysfunction or decreased sexual drive, know that you are not alone.

You can get the answers you need from trusted medical professionals without leaving your home. Alpha XR Online Doctor offers secure and confidential consultations with doctors to advise you online or by phone to discuss the best healthcare options for you. All treatments are delivered discreetly with fast, free shipping options that save you time, or you can pick up your prescriptions from a Alpha XR pharmacy.

Methodology

Using Google’s BigQuery, we pulled posts from the last year mentioning “Viagra” at least once. Using that information, we were able to see which subreddits were mentioning the keyword most per 1,000 subscribers. This leveled the comparison among smaller subreddits and major ones, like AskReddit. To calculate word frequencies, we used WordStat to analyze the posts we pulled. All additional keywords examined within the project were only within posts that contained Viagra; no additional Reddit comments were pulled to examine other terms.

Sources

 

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