Sexual Health

Viagra: Uses, Dosage, Side Effects

The development of erectile problems can have a significant impact on a man’s life.

While some men may only experience mild symptoms of erectile dysfunction, others experience the condition at a much more significant level.

About 15% of men will find that they are unable to gain a rigid erection that allows them to participate in sexual intercourse by the age of 70.

Even at an earlier age of 40, about 5% of men are expected to suffer more severe side-effects associated with erectile dysfunction.

Viagra is the most popular drug that is used as a treatment option for men with erectile problems.

The medication is prescribed to millions of men.

While effective, men do need to understand what Viagra will do to their bodies before taking the drug.

A thorough understanding of interactions and side-effects is also important. This would allow a man to make a more informed decision when trying to determine if Viagra is right for them.

What Is Viagra?

Viagra was first introduced as a drug to treat erectile dysfunction in 1998. This, however, was not the primary function of the active ingredient, Sildenafil, that is used in the drug.

Viagra alone does not cause a man to gain an erection. Once the patient has taken Viagra, they need to combine the use of the drug with sexual stimulation in order to ensure the effective product results – and to help the man get an erection during sexual activities.

Some alternative drugs have been developed to provide similar actions to Viagra.

The Guardian recently reported that in just one decade, the number of prescriptions reached out to men for Viagra by the NHS has tripled2.

A report in the Pharmaceutical Journal explains that in the United States, almost three million prescriptions were reached out to men with erectile dysfunction in 2016. Between the years 2014 and 2015 alone, there was a 43% increase in the prescription rate for this drug.

The first thing men need to understand when they are looking to use Viagra is how the drug works to help them get and maintain their erection.

The active ingredient in Viagra, called Sildenafil, interacts with specific chemicals in the body. These are the chemicals that control the smooth muscle tissue in the penis. The chemicals are known as PDE5 enzymes.

PDE5 enzymes are responsible for causing an erection to go away. Sildenafil is classified as a PDE5 inhibitor. What this essentially means is the chemical will inhibit the function of the PD5 enzyme.

As a result, the person taking Viagra to have an erection for longer. The drug can also help to ensure blood flow into the penis when the man is sexually stimulated.

How Should Viagra Be Used?

When a man is prescribed Viagra, they must understand how the drug should be used. Failure to adhere to the dosage instructions may cause an increased risk of some of the more serious side-effects.

Instructions will be provided to the patient by the prescribing physician. The doctor will usually give directions and a specific dosage of Viagra to the male patient based on the severity of their condition.

Some people may be at a higher risk of experiencing interactions or serious side-effects when taking Viagra. The doctor will be able to provide the person with more details and make appropriate recommendations – such as starting with a low dose of Sildenafil.

When using Viagra, the patient should take the capsule at least 30 minutes before sexual activity. It may, however, take up to one hour in some cases for the man to experience the effects of the Sildenafil that is found in Viagra.

Men do need to realize that Viagra will not cause them to experience a spontaneous erection.

Once the pill has been taken, the man will have to wait 30 to 60 minutes for the effects to become present. At this point, the man will need to be sexually stimulated for the erection to occur. Thus, Viagra only works together with sexual stimulation and will not cause an erection on its own.

Another factor to take note of is that Viagra will remain effective for several hours after it was taken.

For this reason, a man may decide to take the drug about four hours before they participate in sexual intercourse. This is a good idea for men who are not sure when they will have sex, but they do know that it will occur in the next few hours.

Viagra should be taken with a full glass of water. It is important to note that some foods may interfere with Viagra’s ability to work effectively.

For example, when a person takes Viagra with a fatty meal, then it can delay the onset of the effects associated with the drug. This may make the 30 to 60 minutes period needed for the drug to become effective turn into a longer period of time.

How Long Does Viagra Last?

The specific period of time during which Viagra’s effects will remain present can differ from one person to another. Certain factors come into play when looking at this particular question.

Most men will start to feel the effects of Viagra within the first hour after they have taken the drug. The active chemical used in Viagra, known as Sildenafil, is rapidly absorbed into the body and starts to inhibit the function of the PDE5 enzymes quickly.

There are, however, cases where a man may have to wait up to two hours for the drug to start working. Sexual stimulation will cause an erection once the Sildenafil has effectively inhibited the PDE5 enzymes.

Factors like how Viagra was taken and the dose of Sildenafil have an impact on how long the drug will last in the patient’s body. A more potent dose of the drug will, of course, mean that the man can experience the positive effects of Viagra for a more extended time.

For most men, once the drug takes effect, and they can experience an erection through sexual activity, the effects of the Viagra drug will remain present for about two to three hours.

Higher doses and following the specific instructions provided to the patient may lead to a longer period. In some cases, a man may feel the effects of Viagra for five hours or more.

When the body’s metabolism is fast, however, it means the drug might be metabolized faster than what is considered average. In such cases, a man may not experience the effects of such a significant period of time.

Specific factors that have been found to play a role in how long Viagra lasts include:

  • The psychological state of the patient at the time of taking the medication. When affected by anxiety, depression, and stress, the drug may take longer to kick in.

  • The overall well-being of the patient also tends to affect how long the drug will stay effective. When affected by conditions like metabolic syndrome, diabetes, atherosclerosis, and multiple sclerosis, the drug may not be as effective, and its effects could last for a shorter period of time.

  • Combining Viagra with certain pharmaceutical drugs may cause an interaction to occur. This may affect the efficacy of Viagra and also how long it will last. Specific drugs that are known to interact with Viagra include Clarithromycin, Ciprofloxacin, and Erythromycin, among others.

  • The diet of the patient may also impact the efficacy of the Viagra they are taking. When the person eats a lot of foods that are high in fat, it can cause the absorption of the Sildenafil contained in Viagra to be delayed. This may also have an impact on how long the effects will last.

Safety Profile Of Viagra

Several risks have been associated with the use of Viagra, which all need to be taken into consideration.

Firstly, it is vital to consider the fact that certain drugs – including over-the-counter drugs – can interact with Viagra.

While there are cases where this type of interaction will only cause Viagra’s efficacy to be altered, there are other scenarios where the interaction can lead to harmful complications.

Thus, when a person uses drugs to treat high blood pressure or other conditions, they should first talk to their doctor about potential interactions before using Viagra.

A study5 conducted in France explains that the use of Sildenafil citrate has been clinically proven to yield effective results, but still be a relatively safe option for men to use when they suffer from the symptoms of erectile dysfunction.

In another study, published in the International Journal of Impotence Research, researchers also provided evidence of the safety profile associated with Viagra. In the study, side-effects were reported in less than 20% of participants and mostly included mild adverse reactions.

Vision-related problems were only reported in 5.5% of the participants who were provided a daily dose of Viagra during the study period. These types of issues are more common in people who already suffer from eye-related conditions, such as age-related macular degeneration.

Side Effects Of Viagra

Several side effects have been linked to the use of Viagra. In most people, no side-effects will occur when they take the drug, but this is not always the case.

For most individuals who do experience side effects due to the Sildenafil contained in the Viagra drug, the adverse reactions will not be serious. There are, however, severe side-effects that can develop – in these cases, the person’s life may be in danger if they do not obtain medical treatment.

The most common adverse reactions that men tend to experience when they take Viagra to include:

  • Runny nose

  • Stuffy nose

  • Upset stomach

  • Headaches

  • Flushing

  • Muscle pain

  • Back pain

  • Rash

  • Dizziness

  • Nausea

Apart from these, it is possible to have vision changes as well. Vision may become blurry. Some men have reported issues with their color vision when they use Viagra.

There are serious side-effects that also need to be taken into account by a man who is considering the use of Viagra.

These side-effects may include priapism. This is a condition where the man develops an erection that does not go away within a period of four hours. Untreated, this condition can lead to permanent damage to the tissue that makes up the penis, including the corpus cavernosum.

A sudden loss or decrease in vision and hearing have been reported in some men as well. This can be alarming and should be reported to a physician immediately – emergency medical treatment may be needed if these serious side-effects occur.

Some life-threatening complications have been linked to the use of Viagra too. Even though rare, men should still note that there seems to be an increase in the risk of having a stroke or heart attack when using Sildenafil.

Alternatives To Viagra

Alternative medicines and even natural remedies have been identified to help men experience improved erectile function without the use of Viagra.

Note that using a generic version of Viagra would not be classified as an alternative. These drugs still contain Sildenafil, even when classified as a generic Viagra.

Medication

Following the discovery of Viagra, several pharmaceutical companies have created their own unique formulas. This has led to the approval of several alternative pharmaceutical drugs to Viagra.

Some of the most common alternatives include:

  • Vardenafil, usually sold as Staxyn and Levitra. This medication lasts for as long as seven hours with a single dose.

  • Tadalafil, available as Cialis and Adcirca. The use of Tadalafil can provide an improved erectile function for up to 36 hours.

  • Avanafil, which is usually sold as Avanafil. The drug can provide a better erectile function for about six hours.

Natural Supplements

Certain natural supplements may be able to help a man experience enhanced erectile function without the need for pharmaceutical drugs.

Even though some of the natural supplements on the market can still lead to side-effects, these adverse reactions are most often less severe than what is associated with the use of Viagra.

Popular natural supplements that are sometimes used by men to help them experience less severe symptoms of erectile dysfunction include:

It is important to take note that natural supplements do not work the same for everyone.

Some people may experience a significant enhancement of their erectile function when they use some of these supplements. Other men, however, may not find any improvement in their sexual function when they turn to natural supplements.

A change in diet and exercise may also be useful for boosting their sex drive and improving their erectile function.

Conclusion

When a man develops erectile dysfunction, it can cause him great distress. This condition can have a significant impact on the man’s abilities in the bedroom and, in severe cases, cause him to lose his ability to have an erection completely.

Viagra is the most commonly used drug to treat erectile dysfunction and has been shown to produce effective results. At the same time, however, the side-effects need to be noted.

Men should understand when it may not be appropriate for them to turn to Viagra as a treatment for erectile problems.

Sources

  1. The Guardian. (2017). Viagra prescriptions on NHS triple in 10 years as stigma fades. [online] Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2017/aug/11/viagra-prescriptions-on-nhs-triple-in-10-years-as-stigma-fades
  2. The Pharmaceutical Journal. (2017). Viagra prescriptions almost triple in a decade. [online] Available at: https://www.pharmaceutical-journal.com/news-and-analysis/news/viagra-prescriptions-almost-triple-in-a-decade/20203430.article?firstPass=false
  3.  International Journal of Impotence Research. (2004). Preclinical safety profile of Sildenafil. [online] Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15057260
  4. International Journal of Impotence Research. (2002). Tolerability and safety profile of sildenafil citrate (Viagra) in Latin American patient populations. [online] Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12161769

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