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How Does Viagra work?

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A pictogram explaining how Viagra (sildenafil) works

Published: 21 September 2020

Viagra works by increasing blood flow to the penis, to help achieve and maintain an erection strong enough for sexual activity. It contains the active ingredient, sildenafil and belongs to the class of medication known as “PDE5 inhibitors”.

Viagra will only work where there is sexual stimulation. It needs to be taken around 60 minutes before sexual activity and usually lasts for around 4 hours.

 

How does an erection occur?

When a man is sexually stimulated, the brain sends nerve signals to the penis, so that a chemical called cGMP can be released. cGMP is responsible for allowing muscles in the penis to relax, so that blood vessels can expand, allowing for an influx of blood which causes an erection.

After an orgasm, or when sexual arousal is no longer present, this process is reversed when a chemical called Phosphodiesterase type 5 (PDE5) is released. PDE5 breaks down cGMP, so that blood vessels in the penis become narrower, allowing the blood to exit.

 

What causes Erectile Dysfunction?

Erectile dysfunction (ED) is caused when there is too much PDE5 present, as it breaks down cGMP. cGMP is the chemical which causes an erection, and it is broken down by PDE5. PDE5 is important as it exerts its effect after an orgasm, or when sexual arousal is not present anymore, allowing the penis to return to its flaccid state. However, too much PDE5 will not allow cGMP to work, which results in erectile dysfunction.

 

So, how does Viagra work? (The science behind the blue pill)

Viagra blocks the action of PDE5 temporarily, to allow for cGMP to circulate freely. cGMP causes blood vessels in the penis to relax, allowing blood vessels to expand. This allows for more blood to enter the penis, causing an erection. It is important to note that there must be sexual arousal for Viagra to work. Viagra is the first ED treatment to have been discovered and has been helping men for over 20 years.

 

Does Viagra work the first time you take it?

A myth surrounding Viagra, is that an erection will magically appear once you’ve taken a tablet. In fact, it takes around 30-60 minutes for the effects to be seen. It will usually take around 30 minutes of massaging or engaging in foreplay, before you are able to achieve and maintain a firm erection. During this time, it is important to maintain a relaxed frame of mind and enjoy the experience. Remember, Viagra will only work where there is sexual stimulation. Worrying about whether or not the pill will work may get in the way of getting aroused, which is likely to reduce the effectiveness of the drug. If Viagra does not work the first time you try it, try not to worry. It can take a while to adapt and get in the right frame of mind before you start to see a positive outcome. Before deciding whether Viagra is for you or not, you should try using it on 8 separate occasions. You may wish to experiment using different settings and taking it at different times to find what suits you best.

 

How long does it last?

Viagra lasts for around 4 hours after a tablet has been taken. This does not mean you will have a constant erection for 4 hours. In fact, if you do, this may be a problem and you should seek medical attention (although this is highly unlikely). What this means is that you will have the ability to achieve and maintain an erection for up to 4 hours after having taken a tablet, upon sexual stimulation. Some men report that they can feel the effects of Viagra for up to 12 hours, however, this can depend on a number of factors such as the strength of the tablet, body weight, age, and metabolism. If you’re after a drug that lasts longer, you may wish to try tadalafil (Cialis), also known as the “weekend pill”. It has a duration of action of up to 36 hours, which can accommodate for a more spontaneous sex life.  

 

How long does it take for Viagra to kick in?

On average, it takes around 30-60 minutes for the effects of Viagra to kick in. This can depend on whether you have eaten a heavy meal beforehand, as food can delay the time it takes for Viagra to have an effect. You may need to take Viagra 2 hours before anticipated sexual activity if you have consumed a large meal. On the other hand, early responders may find that it takes 15-30 minutes for the effects to be seen. One study has shown that it can take as little as 12 minutes for an erection to be achieved after taking Viagra. However, you will need to take Viagra on a few separate occasions before finding out what suits you best.

 

So, what have we learnt?

Viagra works by allowing blood vessels in the penis to relax and expand, allowing for an influx of blood. This results in an erection. It usually takes around 30-60 minutes for Viagra to work, with the effects lasting for up to 4 hours. It is important to note that there must be sexual arousal in order for Viagra to have an effect.

 

Whilst all of our content is written and reviewed by healthcare professionals, it is not intended to be substituted or used as medical advice. If you have any questions or concerns about your health, please speak to your doctor.

 

© 2020 BY CHEMIST CLICK. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.