27 Mar
2009

Medicine has responded to the clamor for rejuvenating and beautifying techniques in numerous ways. Plastic surgery, liposuction, laser resurfacing of the skin—these are just a few of the procedures available to a public that wants them. They provide a much-desired alternative to appearing older or less attractive than one wants to look. Done correctly, they don’t harm—they enhance. In many cases, they help to restore confidence and make the people receiving them feel a lot better about themselves. Now, having the wherewithal to appear fit and more appealing on the outside, medical science can offer innovative methods to keep the inside running the way it should.

Currently, the Human Genome Project at the National Institutes of Health is unraveling the human genetic blueprint. In just a few years, researchers will be able to look at a man’s genetic background and then choose—or even design—a drug that will correct a drooping penis or boost a waning libido.

With the dawn of the new world of sexual medicine, a more immediate question has arisen. Should a man take the pill to improve erections if he doesn’t think he has ED? The issue can easily be sidestepped by saying that if a man takes the pill and his erections improve, then he had ED after all. The drug is restoring a state which would exist “naturally” if the man were free of ED. However, another way to view the issue is to ask whether the pill should be used by men with no erectile problems, as a recreational pleasure-enhancer. Who decides —the patient or the doctor?

Ultimately, they will share the decision. Making sex better denotes a hallmark in the history of modern medicine. Not so long ago, even a harmless activity like masturbation was regarded by the medical community as the first step on the road to madness. Today we can openly address sexual problems—which is the first step toward solving them. With the ED medications, we are on the next rung of the ladder. Medical science is beginning, right now, to turn erectile dysfunction into an archaic reference that will, in the near future, be as small a worry as smallpox is today.

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