A number of different erectile dysfunction medications (called PDE5-inhibitors) are available for purchase in the UK. While they all have the same effect of stimulating blood flow to the penis and helping you to achieve an erection, they work in slightly different ways.

We will take a closer look at Sildenafil (Viagra), that is the most commonly prescribed erectile dysfunction medication. It is important to know what you should be expecting from Sildenafil. Below we will answer some of the key questions you may have before taking it.

  1. How much should I take?
  2. How quickly will it work?
  3. How long does it last?
  4. What are the side effects?

Let’s tackle one by one.

How much should I take?

Sildenafil comes in doses of 25mg, 50mg or 100mg.

50mg is the most common dosage and is the recommended one if you are taking Sildenafil (or Viagra) for the first time. Most men find that 50mg is sufficient to treat ED and improve their sexual health.

Make sure not to exceed the recommended dosage of one tablet per day.

How quickly will it work?

Sildenafil usually takes 30 to 60 minutes to start working. However, you need to be sexually stimulated first to get an erection.

If you’ve recently had a large, fatty meal it will likely take longer as this slows the absorption of the drug into your bloodstream. Similarly, drinking alcohol will make the drugs less effective. And might increase the time it takes to take effect.

How long does it last?

The length of time the effect of Sildenafil lasts varies from person to person. Most commonly the effect of Sildenafil will start to decrease 2-3 hours after taking it. However, in some instances, it can work for up to 5 hours.

There are a number of factors which impact the time it takes for Sildenafil to work and for how long it remains effective.

What are the factors that affect how long Sildenafil lasts for?

  • Age: Usually, the older you are the longer the effect of Sildenafil lasts in your body because the metabolic system gets slower with age.
  • Food: Taking Sildenafil on an empty stomach allows it to take effect more quickly. The drug usually starts working after about 30 minutes. However, it can take up to 3 hours, especially if you’ve recently had a large, fatty meal as this slows absorption of the drug into your bloodstream.
  • Alcohol: While it’s not recommended, having a couple of drinks shouldn’t stop the Sildenafil from working. However, drinking anything over 3 standard units before you take the tablet can affect the tablet’s efficacy and make it more difficult to get an erection.

  • Dosage: Sildenafil can come in doses from 25mg to 100mg. Usually, with a higher the dose, the time it takes for Sildenafil to work and for how long it remains effective increases. However, never exceed the recommended dose.

Side effects of Sildenafil

Most men who take Sildenafil for ED experience no side effects.

However, it is not uncommon to suffer minor side effects. These usually subside within around 5 hours, when the drug is no longer in your system. These include:

  • digestive problems
  • headache
  • dizziness
  • blurred vision
  • muscle pain
  • rash
  • nasal congestion

In rare cases, Sildenafil can cause serious side effects. These include:

  • An erection that lasts more than 4 hours. If it is not treated right away, this can cause permanent damage to your penis, so seek medical help immediately.
  • Sudden loss of vision in one or both eyes. This can be symptomatic of a serious eye problem called non-arteritic anterior ischemic optic neuropathy (NAION) and should be seen to immediately.  
  • Sudden deafness or impairment to your hearing, a ringing in your ears, or dizziness. Seek medical help immediately if this occurs.

Make sure to seek medical help immediately if you experience serious side effects.

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