Sildenafil

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Sildenafil

Viagra ®

Viagra is a pill that helps you get and keep an erection.

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Even if you’ve never used Viagra before, chances are you’ve heard of it. It’s been around for a while and has a reputation as the ‘original’ ED treatment. 

Viagra has helped millions of men to get past erection problems and enjoy better sex.

The little blue pill for men: What is Viagra?

Viagra is an oral tablet for ED. When you take Viagra, it starts to work in 30-60 minutes. It stays active for up to five hours, so you can enjoy sex with your partner.

So how does it work? Well, let’s start with erections. Quite vital for sex. An erection happens when blood rushes to the penis. In the penis, this blood is soaked up by a spongy tissue (corpus cavernosum). 

Erectile dysfunction (ED) is when blood vessels near the penis are too tight. This stops blood from getting through, and filling up the sponge, and enabling an erection. So poor blood flow = limp erections.

Sildenafil citrate, the active ingredient in the Viagra pill, works by relaxing these vessels near the penis. This helps circulation and makes it easier to get hard (and stay hard).

What Viagra dosage is right for me?

There are three doses: 25mg, 50mg and 100mg.

Men who are new to ED treatment will normally start on Viagra 50mg. This works well for most men on the first or second try.

If you’ve taken the 50mg and had mild side effects from it (like a stuffy nose or a headache) you may have your dose lowered by a doctor to 25mg. Or, you may start on Viagra 25mg if you have medical factors that put you at a higher risk of side effects (like diabetes or mild liver problems).

Viagra 100mg is only for men who’ve taken the 50mg and tolerated it well, but found it isn’t quite strong enough (example: if you get an erection but it doesn’t last very long).

Viagra or Sildenafil?

It’s an age old debate. Name brand or generic drugs? Other than some minor differences, Viagra and Sildenafil (or ‘generic Viagra’) are pretty much the same medicine. The biggest difference is the price.

Viagra is always made by Pfizer, because they own the brand name. Sildenafil is made by Pfizer too, but it’s also made by other companies. Viagra is a diamond-shaped blue pill, while the appearance of Sildenafil tablets may be a little less exciting.

But because it’s a generic, Sildenafil is usually less expensive (hence the nickname ‘cheap Viagra’).

There isn’t really much difference in the way they work in the body. They have the same active ingredient, so it’s unlikely one will work better or worse than the other.

If you’re experiencing ED and want to know more about treatment and how to get Viagra online, you can get recommendations from a doctor by taking our remote consultation.

Page reviewed by:
Dr Daniel Atkinson
Dr Daniel Atkinson
GP Clinical Lead
Visit author profile
Last updated 18/01/2021

What you need to know about Viagra

What is erectile dysfunction?

Impotence, also known as erectile dysfunction or ED, is when a man can’t get an erection, or one that lasts long enough for sex. It’s a common problem estimated to affect about half of all men at some point in their lives. But because a lot of men don’t seek treatment for it, this number could be even higher.

It happens when the penis has an insufficient supply of blood, because the vessels around the base of the penis are too tight. There are lots of possible causes, including physical problems like high blood pressure or cardiovascular disease, being overweight, drinking too much alcohol, or recreational drug use.

But sometimes it can be caused by psychological factors, like being stressed, nervous or feeling anxious.

It can often affect men on an occasional basis and resolve itself. In other cases, the problem can stick around and require medical advice with prescription treatment.

How does Viagra work?

Can you get Viagra over the counter?

Can you get Viagra on an NHS prescription?

How to get Viagra online

How to take Viagra

Take one tablet one hour before you plan to have sex. Viagra pills should be swallowed whole and taken with water. It should stay active in the body for up to five hours, so you don’t need to rush having sex.

You shouldn’t take more than one Viagra tablet in any 24 hour period. If you take one and find it doesn’t work as well as you would like it to, speak to your doctor.

Viagra isn’t an aphrodisiac. You’ll need to be sexually stimulated for it to work.

Tell your doctor if you get any side effects. It’s rare, but some men who take ED medication get an erection that won’t go down. If this happens, and you have an erection that doesn’t go away after four hours, go straight to your nearest emergency room for medical advice.

Viagra with food and alcohol

Choosing the right Viagra dosage

How effective is Viagra?

What are the most common Viagra side effects?

Headache is the side effect reported most commonly in men taking Viagra (affecting more than 1 in 10 users), followed by nausea, hot facial flushing, stuffy nose, dizziness or mild visual disturbances (all common, affecting less than 1 in 10 users).

Following the instructions carefully can help to reduce the likelihood of these.

What should I do if I get side effects?

When should I see a doctor?

Is there a cheaper version of Viagra?

Yes. For men concerned about how much Viagra costs, Sildenafil is the same drug and much cheaper a lot of the time. It’s a generic medicine so it isn’t always made by Pfizer, but it should work just as well.

Sildenafil or ‘Generic Viagra’ was released in 2013, after the 15 year patent on Viagra expired.

The generic does the same job as the branded treatment, though the tablets may look different and come in different packaging. So if you’re looking for ED treatment and thinking about whether to buy Viagra, you may want to consider Sildenafil. For many men it’s a more affordable option.

What should I do if the Viagra pill doesn’t work?

What is Viagra Connect?

Viagra vs Cialis: which is better?

Can you get Viagra for women?

Viagra SAFETY INFO

Always read the patient information leaflet before taking Viagra.

More info

Viagra side effects

You can get side effects from using Viagra, and some men taking certain medications or with medical conditions shouldn’t use it.

If you experience:

  • chest pain
  • sight loss
  • an erection that lasts for four or more hours and won’t go away
  • an allergic reaction
  • any skin reaction such as blistering
  • or any other side effects that concern you;

speak to a doctor right away.

Very common (more than 1 in 10 users):
Headache.

Common (less than 1 in 10 users):
Feeling sick, flushing in the face, hot flush, indigestion problems, color tinted vision, sight problems like blurred vision or visual disturbance, blocked or stuffy nose and feeling dizzy.

Uncommon (less than 1 in 100 users):
Being sick, rash, eye irritation, bloodshot or red eyes, eye pain, seeing flashes of light, visual brightness, being sensitive to light, watery eyes, palpitations, fast heartbeat, high blood pressure, low blood pressure, pain in the muscles, drowsiness, loss of sense of touch, vertigo, ringing in the ears, mouth feeling more dry than usual, blocked or stuffy sinuses, inflammation of the lining of the nose, causing runny nose, sneezing and blocked nose, pain above the stomach, gastro-oesophageal reflux disease causing heartburn, blood in the urine, arm or leg pain, bleeding from the nose, feeling hot and tired.

Rare (less than 1 in 1,000 people):
Fainting, stroke, heart attack, irregular heartbeat, temporary reduced blood flow to sections of the brain, throat becoming tight, numb mouth, bleeding behind the eye, double vision, loss of visual sharpness, unusual feeling in the eye, swollen eye or eyelid, small particles or floaters in your vision, seeing bright round circles around lights, dilated pupils, change of color in the white of the eye, bleeding from the penis, blood in the semen, dry nose, nasal inflammation, feeling irritable and sudden loss of hearing.

Viagra warnings