Is GSO up for the challenge?

by Amy Kingsley

Downtown may be booming, but according to the December issue of Men’s Health, activity in Greensboro’s more intimate spaces might need a little boost. Or a lot.

The magazine ranked 101 US cities by the number of erectile dysfunction prescriptions per capita. Greensboro came in dead last with the highest rate of such scrip issued to its population ‘— earning the appellation ‘“Limpest City in America.’” Other North Carolina cities also fared poorly: Charlotte (88), Durham (89) and Raleigh (90).

Since Viagra, the first drug intended to treat erectile dysfunction, was introduced in 1998, the market for such drugs has topped $2 billion, according to Visongain Marketing. Cialis, manufactured by Eli Lilly, and Levitra, homegrown in Research Triangle Park by GlaxoSmithKline, entered the market in 2003.

City employees’ health insurance does cover those drugs, according to benefits coordinator Larry Cooper. He did not know how many prescriptions were written for city employees or the overall cost of the treatment.

‘“I guess you could say Greensboro has been given a dubious honor,’” said Jeff Thigpen, the Guilford County Register of Deeds.

Erectile dysfunction is a medical condition defined by doctors as difficulty in getting and/or maintaining an erection that is sufficient for sexual intercourse, according to the Urology Center of Greensboro website. Medical conditions like diabetes, hypertension and depression can cause the condition, which can also be a side effect of heart disease, anxiety and blood pressure medications.

Some lifestyle choices can also contribute to erectile difficulties, including smoking, drinking and high-fat food consumption, according to the website. North Carolina had higher rates of diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and smoking than the national average in 2003, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Despite the dire health implications, the numbers are still likely to provoke giggling, Thigpen said.

On his blog, Thigpen suggested that the husband of US Sen. Elizabeth Dole (R-NC), Bob Dole lead the campaign to reverse the erectile dysfunction statistic. Former presidential candidate Dole acted as a spokesman for Viagra in the late 1990s.

‘“This kind of seems like a big story,’” Thigpen said. ‘“But I guess that really depends on your perspective.’”

‘— Amy Kingsley