Erectile Dysfunction

It seems that every time I’m watching a sporting event or “male” targeted show on television, there are multiple commercials for men suffering from erectile dysfunction. This issue that affects nearly 18 million men in the United States according the Cialis website, once was embarrassing seems to be more accepted in our culture. Famous athletes like Mike Ditka have been spokesmen for various medications to cope with ED.

The medicalization of erectile dysfunction came about due to the medications that were able to intervene and enable men to not only perform sexually but better and with more stamina than they may have been able to prior to their taking the medicine. Viagra was known for years, and still is to many as  the “magical, little, blue pill.” These drugs were used to fix impotence, especially in older generations, and inadvertently enhance relationships or promote promiscuity and a sense of youth. These medication advertisements remain focused on men in their 50s and above. The commercials, in my opinion are ridiculous, for the most part but make the point that they are focused on a certain demographic.

The biomedicalization of erectile dysfunction allows for the idea that sexual prowess will be astronomically enhanced and you will become more of a man. Many of the advertisements seen show men with their wives or doing manual labor and engaging in activities that clearly only men that can perform in the bedroom can experience. As said in lecture, in today’s world people are expected to be the greatest at everything and thanks to modern day pharmaceuticals, we can achieve it. What is a man without his sexual achievements? We are able to customize our bodies to do what we ask of them. Want to have sex that is better than ever before? Get on erectile dysfunction medication and the world is yours (*sarcasm*). Unfortunately, that’s what advertisements are meant to portray. However, medications like Cialis have enabled sexual encounters to be more enjoyable and efficient and take the potential stress out of sex for that the men who suffer from ED potentially have.

Cultural Values and Ideologies:

The individuals in this commercial are couples in relationships. They seemingly are very in love and appear very happy. There is a part of the commercial where the husband is watching the wife fumble around to get her shoe on. He looks as if he’s admiring her and laughs at her clumsiness. The men both look happy and that they can engage in sexual activities at the drop of a hat.

Social Roles:

These men are fulfilling the idea of the attentive husband. It shows adult men in relationships still able to have passion and that they can still have that spark throughout their lives thanks to this drug.

Presentation of Medical Information:

The medical information is rattled off like in most drug ads. They say to consult your doctor and a whole slew of side effects like headaches, back aches, muscle aches, etc. They also urge to get immediate medical help for things like loss of breath, tongue swelling and if a patient has an erection for more than four hours.

Doctor Patient Interactions:

In this specific commercial there is not interaction between doctor and patient. They just advise to seek medical help in case of issues.

Other Advertising Strategies:

They use the women in the commercial as to show how happy a relationship can be when their intimacy and sex lives are healthy and doing well. It’s a way to show both men and women, you can have this if you take this pill.


Cialis Commercial . Film. : , 2012.


This Post Has 1 Comment

  1. Haley Macko says:

    The article that I read about erectile dysfunction associates the discovery of Viagra, a treatment for erectile dysfunction, with transforming sexual difficulties into an illness. Viagra was preconceived for use by older men experiencing problems maintaining an erection or for erectile dysfunction associated with prostate cancer, diabetes or other medical problems. According to this article, male impotency originated as a physical illness that stemmed from psychological factors. This term was redefined as sexual dysfunction in the early 90s only to be further labeled erectile dysfunction, shifting the focus to biological causes. Pfizer, the biopharmaceutical company responsible for designing Viagra, heavily promoted their drug as a correction to erectile impotence further shaping the struggle of males to sexually perform into a medical problem. And as the medical technology industry, mass media and entrepreneurs publicized Viagra other businesses became interested in crafting drugs with similar functions. Taking medications for erectile dysfunction became mainstream reframing erection difficulty as ordinary and an illness that requires biomedical intervention. Pfizer has unintentionally fueled the biomedicalization of American medicine and the obsession to enhance our bodies, with Viagra being used for “the occasional erectile problem and an enhancement during sexual encounters” (Conrad). Additionally, because intimacy affects intimate partners erectile difficulties “are linked to issues surrounding masculinity and sexual performance making erectile dysfunction central to masculine self-esteem” (Conrad). Personally, I feel that as sex stopped being about procreation but instead recreation people became less satisfied with their sexual performance. I don’t think it is unusual if a man is unable to achieve an erection if it occurs occasionally. And I believe erectile dysfunction should only be perceived as an illness if there is a medical cause. However, because this condition can be resolved I think men may feel they don’t need to settle for a life of normalcy and imperfection. (Conrad)

    Conrad, Peter. 2007. The medicalization of society: on the transformation of human conditions into treatable disorders. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.

Leave a Reply