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Viagra Information

Couple in bed who have used Viagra

How does Viagra work?

Viagra is the brand name for sildenafil citrate, which is a PDE-5 (Phosphodiesterase Type 5) inhibitor. Other medicines in the same family include Levitra (vardenafil) and Cialis (tadalafil). Viagra is an effective treatment for erectile dysfunction and works by increasing blood flow to the erectile tissue of the penis to make it easier for ED sufferers to gain and maintain an erection. The treatment is not an aphrodisiac and doesn’t enhance your libido, it will only work when you are sexually aroused.

How do I take Viagra?

You should take Viagra around 1 hour before sex and ideally on an empty stomach. Alcohol and food can impair the effects of the treatment and it’s recommended you don’t drink more than one or two units of alcohol when you’re using this medication. Alcohol can also temporarily cause a lowering of your blood pressure, increasing the risk of side effects such as dizziness when you take Viagra. You must not take more than one tablet at any time and should not take more than one tablet in a 24 hour period. Viagra should not be taken within 24 hours of taking any other ED treatment.

How fast will Viagra work?

Normally Viagra is effective about one hour after you take the tablet. It should be taken without food or alcohol for the best results, as consuming a high fat or heavy meal will delay it's onset of action, as will drinking more than one or two units of alcohol. It usually remains effective for 4 hours. This does not mean your erection will last this long, rather that you will be able to get an improved erection more easily during this period of time if sexually aroused. You should not take it unless you intend to have sex.

How effective is Viagra?

Viagra has been shown to be very effective in helping many men with ED to get an improved erection. However, the level of success does depend on the underlying cause of the erectile dysfunction, the severity of any underlying cause, any anxiety and the degree of sexual stimulation. We would usually advise you try Viagra on at least 8 different occasions before we can assess whether it is effective for you and before switching to an alternative ED medicine or trying a higher dose (if safe and appropriate). If Viagra does not improve your erection, this could be due to many factors and it is worth discussing this further with a doctor and ensuring you have had the checks and tests we advise with your GP.

What are the side effects of Viagra?

As with most prescription medicines, there are some side effects associated with Viagra. These are usually mild to moderate and of a short duration. The most common side effects include: light headedness, headaches, facial flushing, a blue tint to your vision, stuffy nose and/or indigestion.

If you experience any chest pain when using Viagra or your erection lasts for longer than four hours please contact emergency services and seek medical help immediately.

Please read the patient information leaflet that accompanies the medication, before taking Viagra, for a full list of potential side effects and warnings.

Other medicines and Viagra:

Viagra should not be taken if you are taking certain medicines due to serious and potentially life threatening interactions. It is extremely important that you let us know about ALL the medicines you have or are taking every time you use our service.

Nitrates: Do not use Viagra if you are taking Nicorandil or any Nitrate containing medication. Nitrates are found in some heart medications such as a GTN spray or tablets that you put under your tongue and isosorbide mononitrate/dinitrate used for angina, as well as in certain recreational drugs; in particular “poppers”, “room odorizers” and “aromas”. Nitrates can also be found in other medications so it's very important you list all medicines and recreational drugs you have or are taking when asked, this is because when combined with ED medications they can cause a serious and life threatening drop in your blood pressure which can be fatal.

Alpha-blockers: These include terazosin, tamsulosin, doxazosin, prazosin and alfuzosin. If you are taking alpha blockers then you must leave at least a six hour gap between taking the alpha-blocker and taking Viagra, otherwise the combination can cause a dangerous drop in your blood pressure.

This is not a full list of all the medication interactions - Viagra can interact dangerously with other medicines. Please list ALL the medicines you are taking when asked. If you subsequently start taking a new medication, before taking your Viagra please always check with a doctor first, to ensure the Viagra is still safe to take.

The underlying causes of erectile dysfunction

Viagra does not treat the underlying cause of the erectile dysfunction, which can be a sign of a more serious health problem. This could be physical - most commonly due to vascular disease (narrowing of the blood vessels) or psychological (e.g. stress, anxiety and depression).

Viagra can help improve your confidence and reduce the anxiety and stress caused by the ED itself helping to break the vicious cycle of failure to get an erection.

In many men ED is a sign of an underlying physical health condition such as diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol or a hormonal problem so it is really important to have the tests we recommend so that any underlying conditions and risk factors can be treated.

Please remember ED can be an ‘early warning’ sign for heart disease and stroke especially in men over the age of 40 so it’s really important to have these checks.

If you think you have erectile dysfunction, click here to complete our free medical assessment or if you think Viagra may be the right treatment for you click here. Our doctors will then assess whether you are suitable for treatment.