Viagra and Alcohol - Can You Take Them Together?

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Viagra and alcohol, can you take them together? If you’re taking, or thinking about taking Viagra, Erectile dysfunction (ED) is an issue you’re looking to overcome. If ED is a problem, then your nerves may well be too. It’s normal to want a couple of drinks before you get to business. But can you take Viagra with alcohol?

Whilst it is generally safe to drink alcohol in moderation, there are a few things you should know about mixing the two, including when you should take Viagra, and what steps you can take to best protect yourself against the potential side effects of taking Viagra and alcohol together.


Viagra and alcohol

Viagra was one of the first medications prescribed to treat erectile dysfunction (ED), a condition affecting hundreds of millions of men worldwide. With ED, men have difficulty getting or keeping an erection firm enough for sex.

Viagra, the brand name for the generic drug sildenafil citrate, works to treat ED by relaxing the muscles in the penis. This allows blood to enter the penis upon sexual stimulation, allowing for a satisfactory erection within a timeframe of 30 minutes to 4 hours after taking a tablet.

Alcohol has a depressive effect on the body and can impact sexual intercourse. Research shows that drinking in moderation doesn’t inhibit a man’s erectile function. However, drinking too much can actually make it difficult to have an erection. This is because alcohol can inhibit certain pathways that are necessary for having a fulfilling sexual experience, including arousal, blood circulation, and nerve sensitivity.

Many men will enjoy a drink on the days they plan to take Viagra. Alcohol can help you to relax, and having a drink is usually seen as a social activity. One to two units of alcohol is unlikely to have an impact on your ability to get or keep an erection. Small amounts of alcohol can also be taken safely with Viagra.

 

How much is too much?

In general, sex therapists recommend limiting alcohol consumption to one drink (or one to two units of alcohol) an hour or two before sex. One drink – which includes a glass of wine, a shot of distilled spirits, a mixed drink, or a serving of beer, contains about 14 grams of pure alcohol, which is equivalent to 1-2 units. Beyond one or two drinks, alcohol can limit your ability to get and maintain a firm erection. Remember, alcohol is a depressant which slows down the functioning of the body, including sexual function.

 

Does Viagra work with alcohol?

What happens when you mix Viagra and alcohol? Will sildenafil still work if you’ve had an alcoholic drink?

According to research, Viagra still works with alcohol when consumed in moderation. A 2004 study looking at the effects of taking sildenafil with red wine found no clinically significant interaction, and blood flow to the body’s organs, including the penis, was not impacted.

Whilst there is no direct interaction between Viagra and alcohol, the negative effect that alcohol has on the body, can reduce the effectiveness of Viagra. So, excess drinking and taking Viagra is counterproductive.

However, small amounts of alcohol will not affect how Viagra works, and is safe to take.

 

Alcohol and ED

Chronic alcohol consumption can be a cause of erectile dysfunction. Binge drinking can have the same effect.

Drinking is also known to shrink the testicles and reduce the volume and quality of sperm. Whilst these factors won’t affect the way your body responds to Viagra, it can be a contributing factor to why you need it in the first place.

Studies show that around 60-70% of heavy drinkers experience ED. This is a result of alcohol causing toxins to build up in your system, which can have a negative effect on the functioning of your body. Alcohol also causes dehydration, which can cause poor circulation. Erections rely on a healthy supply of blood, so a reduction in blood and oxygen to the penis can have a negative impact on erections. Dehydration also reduces the level of testosterone, which is also linked to ED.  

 

How long after taking Viagra can you drink alcohol?

Viagra requires about 30 to 60 minutes to start working and lasts for up to four hours, so you may want to take it about one to two hours before having sex. What you consume during that time can impact how the medicine works.

  • Don’t eat a heavy meal before taking Viagra. This can make it harder for the active ingredient to enter the bloodstream, slowing down the medicine’s effect. Try to eat a light meal before taking a pill.
  • Stay within your limits. Alcohol can reduce the effectiveness of sildenafil, by slowing down the functioning of the body.

There is no ideal time to drink alcohol after taking Viagra. The most important factor when it comes to mixing Viagra with alcohol is the amount you drink. The less alcohol you consume, the higher the chances of success with ED treatment.

 

Viagra side effects with alcohol

One or two alcoholic drinks may not stop Viagra from working, however, there are negative side effects that you may experience when taking the two together. Alcohol consumption increases the chances of experiencing side effects with Viagra.

Research conducted in 2019 looked at the side effects of Viagra with alcohol. As alcohol consumption increased, so did the side effects, such as dizziness, headache, nasal congestion and chest discomfort. Reported side effects were lower in the group of patients who did not consume alcohol. More severe side effects of mixing alcohol and Viagra include sudden hearing loss, intraocular pressure (pressure on the fluid inside the eye), changes in heart rhythm, and priapism, which is a painful, long-term erection.

You should also avoid drinks mixed with grapefruit juice. One study found that men who drank cocktails containing grapefruit juice had more sildenafil circulating in their bodies after taking Viagra. It’s possible this could increase the risk of side effects. To be safe, it’s best not to mix alcohol with grapefruit juice, or drinks containing grapefruit juice when taking Viagra.

 

So, can you take Viagra and alcohol?

To summarise:

  • There is no direct interaction and you can take Viagra with alcohol, and have fulfilling sexual encounters.
  • You should approach this responsibly, limiting your alcohol intake to 1-2 units, or 1-2 drinks.
  • Side effects of Viagra are more pronounced with alcohol, and excessive drinking puts you at risk of experiencing side effects such as dizziness, facial flushing, headache and visual disturbances.
  • Whilst alcohol may not affect sildenafil directly, or the way it works, alcohol slows down how the body functions, including getting and maintaining an erection. Viagra is unlikely to work when you are drunk. 


Talk to your doctor about taking sildenafil with alcohol and make sure this combination is right for you. For most men, one or two drinks beforehand is unlikely to cause any side effects, or affect the way that Viagra works.


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