Contrary to popular opinion, men care about sexually satisfying their partners. How else do we explain the anxieties of a man furiously commanding his member to attention when his presumably naked lover in the other room is patiently waiting? The notion of matching erection with ego is an age-old one – even the Yoruba have a proverb pairing male erection and the capacity to withstand turmoil.

Back to the bedroom. No man wants to ask the dreaded post-coital question, how was it for you? Or its more uncertain rider, did you enjoy it? This is perhaps because good sex is best expressed in non-verbal cues.

Read: Kunyaza: African secret to female orgasm

Often, a man on a marathon may run into difficulties before hitting the 200 metre mark and will hear in his partner’s sigh a phoneme of disappointment. The man’s face washes in shame because he might have bragged about his prowess, or, worse, this might have become a regular occurrence. His orgasm is an unwanted thing because it leaves his partner high and not-so-dry.

Even the market cannot keep up with the turnover of different brands. Among those that are in demand are Orijin Bitters, Opa Eyin, Ogidiga, Action Bitters, Edges Bitters, Osomo Bitters, Baby Oku and Agbara Bitters

And Doctor, one more thing

In the hospital, this is how consultations about sexual problems go: There is a lot of hesitation and fillers, perhaps because in sexual matters a problem shared is not a problem halved. What it is is revealing your most intimate secret to a doctor. Even with the most deliberate young couples, a skillful doctor learns to take sexual history in privacy and slow turns.

On sexual matters, male patients only come to the doctor to please their partners or when they have run out of options. Female patients generally abstain from coming. If a doctor were to ask about a patient’s sex life, the reflexive response is ‘everything is fine’. Repeating the question might even earn a threatening look.

Of course, there is the occasional middle-aged man whose hypertension or diabetes is taking the pleasure out of the bedroom. Perhaps his complaint of a sudden and progressively devastating lack or loss of an erection might be what urgently brought him to the doctor.

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A 60-year-old man once came to my clinic with the most genuine concern about his erection, which had been failing over the past six months. Not that his post-menopausal wife was complaining they seldom had sex—but he wanted to be sure he could perform should the need arise. A few tablets for his hypertension and incipient diabetes mellitus later, he went on his merry way, hopeful to find his morning wood a next time.

 

Sildenafil Citrate for taming her tiger

Sildenafil Citrate, commonly known as Viagra, used to be the quintessential male solution to sexual problems, especially amongst ageing men who cannot keep the blood pooling in their nether regions. Taken about 30 minutes before coitus, besides impeccable timing the only other worry is heart disease. In the absence of this, Sildenafil Citrate becomes a wonder drug to keep things moving cool in the ageing bedroom.

Even young men without obvious problems in this department sometimes augment their repertoire with a ‘little blue’. But things sometimes go awry when erections remain sustained. At this point, the referral is to urologists, who see priapitic penises as dire emergencies.

 

To the local pharmacy

But here in Lagos not every man bothers with the promise of a foreign blue tablet. Many still believe in pre-colonial civilisation and the medicinal practices of our forefathers. This is expressly embodied in a typical Lagos street: itinerant women traders carrying a basin full of different condiments in plastic bottles. Some even have open-air shops, always attached to a garage full of male road transport workers.

In the same vein as locally brewed aphrodisiacs, there is the widespread popularity of herbal drinks that promise to enhance sexual performance. Alomo Bitters, which is produced in Ghana, blazed the trail a few years ago, but the yoke of that monotony has been broken. The truth is that even the market cannot keep up with the turnover of different brands. Among those that are in demand are Orijin Bitters, Opa Eyin, Ogidiga, Action Bitters, Edges Bitters, Osomo Bitters, Baby Oku and Agbara Bitters.

As expected, popular culture also embraces this tendency. Not too long ago, there was a viral video clip on social media of a charismatic young lady in the Bitters business who had the most inventive names for her mixtures. She valorised the penis in her short interview, using the rather unusual car-wash metaphor to describe what the penis does for the vagina, before drawing attention to her mixtures, famous amongst which were Sobotone and Pokriyon. A sampling of opinions from her customers revealed their satisfaction with her local pharmacy. The uses they find for these mixtures hardly ever stray from body purification and sexual enhancement.

On the one hand are the local users who find bitters physically invigorating and sexually satisfying. On the other hand are the doctors who are convinced that they are inimical to health.

One cause for concern

There is one nagging concern about these local pharmacies and their mixtures. Cases of organ failure—usually kidney and liver—associated with its use are reported at tertiary hospitals. Even if the content of these mixtures is not entirely shrouded in myth, their actual ingredients and the pharmacological properties thereof remain unknown.

Frankly, there are two schools of thought. On the one hand are the local users who find them physically invigorating and sexually satisfying. On the other hand are the doctors who are convinced that they are inimical to health.

Clearly, the need for satisfactory sexual performance is seen as a fundamental human right which men pursue relentlessly, sometimes despite the danger posed by the ‘solutions’ that they take. And the popular songs sung in praise of ‘these bitters’ are certainly not helping to get the message of the potential dangers across.