The Effects of Viagra: Before and After

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Science means that ED can be optional.

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Erectile disfunction (ED) is very common, with most men choosing not to talk about it. Treatments for ED are usually effective, with Viagra being a popular choice. Viagra contains the active ingredient, sildenafil (also available as a generic non-branded option). It is important for men experiencing ED to explore their treatment options and whether Viagra can work for them.

If you’re thinking about taking Viagra for the first time, it can help to understand the effects of Viagra before and after using it. In this article we look at what you need to know before taking Viagra and what you can expect after taking Viagra for the first time.

 

What to know before taking Viagra?

You may be considering taking Viagra if you are having difficulty in achieving or maintaining an erection. Before taking Viagra, it is helpful to understand how Viagra works. To put it simply, when a man is sexually aroused, the brain sends signals to release a chemical called cGMP. cGMP allows blood to enter the penis, causing an erection. ED happens when cGMP is broken down, and Viagra works to prevent the breakdown of cGMP. This process requires the brain, nerves, blood vessels, muscles, hormones, and emotions to all work together. Both physical and psychological factors can affect your ability to have an erection.


Physical factors of ED

  • Blood flow affecting conditions - heart disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity can change blood flow to your penis.
  • Medication - that affect your hormonal balance or blood flow to your penis.
  • Penis anatomy conditions - such as Peyronie’s disease.
  • Low testosterone affecting conditions - such as an overactive or underactive thyroid.
  • Conditions that disrupt nerve messages - multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s, stroke or spinal injury can affect the transfer of nerve impulses from your brain to your penis.


Psychological factors of ED

  • Depression or other mental health conditions – may lead to low self-esteem and energy levels that affect your sex drive.
  • Stress - affects your body and mind and sex may be less of a priority.
  • Anxiety – including performance anxiety can influence your sexual ability.
  • Relationship problems – emotional connection, poor communication or other concerns can make it difficult to achieve and maintain an erection.

 

What to consider before taking Viagra

There are a few things you should consider before taking Viagra. These include:


Ensure Viagra is safe for you to take

Viagra is used safely by millions of men with no or minimal adverse reactions to its use. In fact, over the counter Viagra is available at most pharmacies since it came off prescription in 2019. However, it is not suitable for everyone. Some men have side effects from using Viagra such as headaches, facial flushing, and dizziness. Those who take certain medication, such as nitrate-based drugs, should not take Viagra. If you have a health condition or take any medication, please consult your doctor or pharmacist to ensure it is right for you.

You need to be sexually aroused

Viagra is not an aphrodisiac that causes you to become sexually aroused, nor will it increase your sex drive. For Viagra to work, you need to be sexually excited. Your brain then releases a chemical called cGMP into your penis that causes the smooth muscle in your penis to relax, allowing blood to enter and cause an erection.

Viagra won’t make you bigger or last longer

Viagra can help you to maintain your erection so that you can last longer during sex. However, there are misconceptions about what Viagra can help with. Viagra will not help to increase the size of your penis (it can help you to get an erection, but it cannot physically increase the size of the penis). Viagra will not help you to stay hard after ejaculating either, or help you last longer if you ejaculate faster than you want to. After orgasm, your penis will return to its flaccid state, regardless of whether you have taken Viagra or not. The effect of Viagra is aimed at helping to achieve and maintain an erection strong enough for sexual activity.

Take Viagra on an empty stomach or not right after a meal

A heavy meal can delay or prevent the absorption of Viagra into your system. To ensure Viagra works optimally for you, take it on an empty stomach or with a light meal and not directly after a heavy meal.

Avoid alcohol

Alcohol and Viagra work in opposing ways when it comes to blood flow to your penis to get and maintain an erection. Viagra increases blood flow to your penis whereas alcohol reduces it. Alcohol can also exacerbate side effects, such as headache and dizziness. It can also reduce your nerve sensitivity, making it difficult to keep an erection. If alcohol helps you to relax, you can usually have one to two units. More than this can reduce your ability to get an erection.

 

What happens after taking Viagra?

When you are sexually stimulated, your brain releases a chemical called cGMP, that allows blood to flow into your penis and cause an erection.

How Viagra works is that it allows cGMP to keep working for longer than usual. This increases the amount of blood flow to your penis and helps you to get an erection and keep it.  

Viagra is a type of drug known as a phosphodiesterase type 5 (PDE5) inhibitor. It blocks the action of an enzyme called PDE5 that normally breaks down cGMP. PDE5 is required to make the penis flaccid after an erection. However, too much PDE5 can make it difficult to get an erection.

After you take Viagra, PDE5 is blocked and so cGMP circulates freely and keeps working for longer. This improves blood flow to your penis and helps you to have a firmer erection which lasts.


Viagra Timeline

  • 15 minutes: Early Responders – Viagra is absorbed quickly into your bloodstream. Some men experience an erection as quickly as 12 minutes after taking Viagra. This depends on factors such as body weight and whether you take Viagra on an empty stomach or after a meal.
  • 30-60 minutes: Average Responders – Many men will start to feel the effects 30 minutes after taking Viagra. However, most men will find that Viagra is most effective after 1 hour. It is therefore recommended to be taken 30 to 60 minutes before sex.
  • 4 hours: Halfway Point – Half of the drug will have left your body after 4 hours. It is likely that Viagra lasts for around 4 hours for most men, and whilst it is still effective, it may not work as well as it did after the first hour.
  • 10-12 hours: Still Going – Some men will find that Viagra may still be effective, although your erection may not last as long.
  • 24 hours: Until Next Time – Almost all traces of Viagra will have left your body and you will need another tablet to experience the effects of Viagra. Other tablets such as tadalafil, also known as the weekend pill, can last for up to 36 hours.

 

What if you still experience ED after Viagra?

If Viagra doesn’t work for you the first time you take it, don’t give up. The UK national guidelines recommend that you take Viagra on eight separate occasions before deciding if it is working or not. This gives your body time to get used to taking a blue pill before sexual arousal to support an erection.  

There are also a few factors that may mean Viagra is not working effectively for you. Make sure you have the right dose, that you are taking Viagra correctly, and consider any health conditions that may mean you experience ED after taking Viagra.


Not taking Viagra correctly

Timing when to take Viagra can impact on its effectiveness. You should take Viagra one hour or slightly longer before sexual activity. Don’t take Viagra too early as peak levels in your bloodstream may pass and cause it to be less effective, and don’t take it too late as not enough Viagra may reach your bloodstream before sex to have an impact.

Taking Viagra with alcohol

You may wish to have alcohol before sex to help you to relax but you should only have one or two alcohol units. This is because alcohol and Viagra work in opposing ways. Alcohol constricts your blood flow and makes it more difficult to get and keep an erection.

Your Viagra dose may not be right

It is recommended that you use the starting dose of 50mg on eight separate occasions, before considering a higher dose of Viagra. Seek the advice of your doctor or pharmacist before you change your dose.

You have underlying health issues

An underlying health issue may impact on the effectiveness of Viagra. Some health conditions affect your blood flow including diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure. Testosterone levels such as an overactive or underactive thyroid, can affect your interest in sex. These underlying health condition may cause your ED. You should talk to your doctor about ED treatment options for your specific health condition.

You are experiencing anxiety

Anxiety may prevent you from sexual arousal. If this is the case, then Viagra or similar medications that require sexual stimulation to work, will not help. Your GP can offer you advice or refer you to professionals to help you overcome anxiety that is causing ED. For men with sexual performance anxiety, taking a Viagra tablet can help by increasing their confidence and reducing worries. Relaxing and enjoying sex increases the chances of Viagra working.

 

Viagra before and after: The Verdict

Viagra is a well-known brand to help erectile dysfunction. With a high success rate of around 70%, it allows most men who use it to enjoy a fulfilling sex life. Viagra reviews and sildenafil reviews suggest that a high percentage of users find it to be an extremely successful treatment. Having been used for many years by millions of men around the world, you can rest-assured that it is a safe product to use, after you have been assessed by a practitioner.

Like most drugs, Viagra is not suitable for all men. It can cause side effects including headaches and dizziness. Also, Viagra may not be as effective for those with certain health conditions, such as those that affect blood flow or testosterone levels.

Whilst Viagra works first time for most men, you might find it takes a few attempts for your body to get used to taking Viagra before sexual arousal. Ensure you are taking it correctly for optimal results. If you find after the recommended eight times of trying Viagra that it is not working for you, speak with your doctor or a pharmacist about alternative erectile dysfunction treatments, such as tadalafil and vardenafil.


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.