1. People & Relationships
You can opt-out at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy for contact information.

Viagra

How It Works, Where to Buy It, and Side Effects of Viagra

By

Viagra
Creative Crop/Digital Vision/Getty Images

Viagra (Sildenafil) was the first oral medication approved by the Food and Drug administration (FDA) for the treatment of erectile dysfunction. Introduced into the market in 1998 Viagra has arguably had the largest social and cultural impact (in terms of sexuality) of any prescription medication since the birth control pill.

Viagra is a common cultural reference for anything from a quick sexual thrill to the complicated ways that large companies can manipulate the media and individuals to purchase products they design. Viagra has also had a significant impact on the sex lives of individuals taking the drug (and those who have sex with them) but this impact is less straightforward than marketing materials lead one to believe.

How Viagra Works
Viagra works by relaxing muscles and increasing blood flow to particular areas on the body. Viagra was originally studied for the use in people with high blood pressure and cardiac problems. The studies uncovered an interesting side effect, which was that men who were experiencing erectile dysfunction reported that their erections were returning. Viagra only works with sexual stimulation, so taking a pill will not give a man an erection, but it will increase the likelihood he’ll get an erection once he is sexually stimulated.

How to Take Viagra
Viagra comes in three doses, 25mg, 50mg, and 100mg. The manufacturer recommends the 50mg pill as the dose for most people. While online Viagra is widely available, I strongly recommend talking to a real live doctor, preferably one you know, before taking Viagra. After you take a pill it should work within 30 minutes to 1 hour, and lasts about 4 hours. You should not take more than one pill in a 24-hour period.

How Much Does Viagra Cost?
Viagra you purchase from a pharmacy using a prescription you get from your doctor should cost between $4 to $5 per pill. However you can get online Viagra at a significant discount. The problem is that online pharmacies may not be trustworthy, and it is never recommended that you start taking Viagra without first talking to a doctor.

Viagra Side Effects
The most common side effects of Viagra are:

  • headache
  • facial flushing
  • dizziness
  • upset stomach
  • visual problems (bluish vision, blurred vision, sensitivity to light)

Viagra Hazards
Do not take Viagra if you use nitrate drugs, which are used to treat cardiac problems. If used in combination with Viagra, these types of drugs can cause the blood pressure to drop to unsafe, sometimes even life-threatening levels.

People with cardiac problems, anatomical malformations of the penis such as Peyronie's disease, multiple myeloma (a form of cancer), leukemia, liver problems (especially severe liver disorders), kidney problems men with a predisposition to prolonged erections caused by sickle cell anemia, and people taking certain medications used for HIV or those over 65 should NEVER take the drug unless prescribed by a medical practitioner.

In the event of an erection lasting more than 4 hours, seek immediate medical help to avoid long-term injury.

There have been a few cases of men reporting sudden vision loss or hearing loss. If either of these occur you should stop taking Viagra and see your doctor.

Sources:

Giannitsas, K., Konstantinopoulos, A., Patsialas, C., Perimenis, P. “Preference for and Adherence to Oral Phosphodiesterase-5 Inhibitors in the Treatment of Erectile Dysfunction” Patient Preferences and Adherence Vol. 2 (2008): 149–155.

Pfizer Prescribing and Patient Information for Viagra

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.