The People's Perspective on Medicine

Will Viagra Prolong Intercourse?

Q. I have suffered from an embarrassing problem for years and I cannot bring myself to discuss it with my doctor. No matter how much I try to concentrate on other things or how slow I go, I climax within a few minutes of initiating intercourse. My wife tries to be understanding, but I know she finds this situation as frustrating as I do.

Would Viagra help me maintain my erection longer, even after premature ejaculation? Is there anything else I could take? I think I read that Prozac is sometimes prescribed for this condition.

A. Some men take Viagra even though they don’t suffer from impotence. They think it will provide longer, harder erections, but there is no evidence to support this myth. There is, however, one study to suggest that Viagra may help men delay ejaculation.

Urologists do sometimes prescribe antidepressant medications such as Prozac, Zoloft or Paxil. These compounds can cause delayed ejaculation as a side effect and this “complication” has been put to use for men with problems like yours.

Non-drug solutions include the “pause-squeeze” technique which a urologist or sex therapist could explain. Counseling and behavioral therapy may also be helpful.

Do not hesitate to discuss this with a physician. It is a common problem (one in four men report difficulties of this sort) and urologists can often provide successful treatment.

Q. I am on Cipro for a urinary tract infection. I don’t want to do anything to hinder the effectiveness of this antibiotic, but I’m having a hard time avoiding both coffee and milk. Hot lemonade is not as good as coffee for breakfast, and dry cereal is not great.

Could you please explain the interactions between Cipro and these drinks? I know I shouldn’t mix Cipro with antacids or calcium supplements, but does that mean within the same hour that Cipro is taken, or at any time during the day?

I often have questions about how food affects medications, but the pharmacist is sometimes too busy to help. I hope you can send me some information that I can check for myself.

A. Eating yogurt, drinking milk, using antacids or taking calcium supplements within two hours of swallowing antibiotics like tetracycline, Cipro or Noroxin could prevent absorption of the antibiotic so it wouldn’t fight the infection. Orange juice is often fortified with calcium, so be sure to check the label before you wash your pills down with juice.

The issue with coffee is different. You might get more buzz from your brew if you drink it any morning that you take Cipro. The antibiotic interferes with the processing of caffeine, leading to higher blood levels of caffeine for a longer time. Decaf is a better choice while on Cipro.

We’re sending you our Guide to Drug & Food Interactions for more information on the ways in which food can affect medications. Anyone who would like a copy, please send $2 in check or money order with a long (no. 10) stamped, self-addressed envelope: Graedons’ People’s Pharmacy, No. F-1, P. O. Box 52027, Durham, NC 27717-2027.

Q. Is it safe to use Merthiolate for minor cuts and scratches? I have a hard time finding this antiseptic these days.

A. Dermatologists discourage use of Merthiolate (thimerosal) because it can cause allergic skin reactions. This mercury-containing compound is being removed from vaccines, contact lens cleaners and many other products.

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    About the Author
    Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist who has dedicated his career to making drug information understandable to consumers. His best-selling book, The People’s Pharmacy, was published in 1976 and led to a syndicated newspaper column, syndicated public radio show and web site. In 2006, Long Island University awarded him an honorary doctorate as “one of the country's leading drug experts for the consumer.” .
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