Viagra Not Working? Here's What You Can Do

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If Viagra is not working, there may be several reasons why. It may well be that your body needs time to adjust to taking the little blue pill to get an erection. There may also be other factors, including whether you are taking it correctly, your frame of mind and the dosage. Either way, try not to worry, as most of the time, these issues are easily resolved.

Viagra is a well-recognised brand name for the first-line medicine used to treat erectile dysfunction (ED). The active ingredient in Viagra is sildenafil and it is also available in its non-branded form, known as sildenafil. Technically, there is no difference between Viagra and sildenafil. It is also available to buy over the counter as Viagra Connect. Viagra works when sildenafil increases the blood flow to your penis to help achieve and maintain an erection. It has a high success rate of improving erections in four out of five men.

 

Why doesn’t Viagra work?

Viagra has a high success rate of around 70%, allowing most men who use it, to enjoy a fulfilling sex life. However, it is not guaranteed to always work. Around 30% of men who use Viagra or other ED treatments don’t experience the full benefits. There are physical and psychological causes of ED that can influence whether Viagra works or not. It is also important to ensure that you take Viagra in the correct way. The good news is that most of the reasons why Viagra does not work can be easily resolved by making small changes. Let’s take a look at why Viagra may not be working for you.

1. You’re not taking Viagra correctly

If Viagra is not taken correctly, its effectiveness may be reduced. Timing is important when it comes to achieving optimum results. The best time to take Viagra is one hour before sexual activity. If you take it sooner, the amount of sildenafil circulating in your bloodstream may not be enough to make an impact. On the other hand, taking Viagra more than two hours before sex may reduce its effectiveness. Although Viagra lasts for four hours, as the levels of drug in the bloodstream start to drop after one to two hours.

It is best to swallow your Viagra tablet with water. You should avoid grapefruit or grapefruit juice before taking Viagra as it can increase your chance of experiencing side effects.

2. Alcohol may be reducing the effectiveness of Viagra

Alcohol and Viagra work in opposing ways. Viagra works by increasing blood flow to the penis, to help achieve an erection. Alcohol reduces blood flow, making it difficult to get an erection. Alcohol also reduces nerve sensitivity and can inhibit certain pathways that are needed for getting an erection. You should either avoid alcohol completely or stick to one to two units. Any more than this can impact your ability to get an erection and can increase the likelihood of experiencing side effects.

3. You’re giving up too early

It’s quite possible that Viagra won’t work the first time you take it. There are always nerves when trying ED treatment for the first time. Worrying about whether it will work, and side effects can all factor into your initial response to Viagra. It is recommended that you take Viagra on eight separate occasions before deciding if it is working or not. This gives your body time to adjust and come to terms with the idea of taking a tablet before sexual arousal to support an erection.

4. Your dose is too low

Viagra is available in doses of 25mg, 50mg, and 100mg. You might think that your Viagra dose is too low. However, you should use the recommended starting dose of 50mg tablets on eight separate occasions before increasing your dose to 100mg, if needed. You should seek the advice of a doctor or pharmacist before increasing the dose of Viagra.

5. You have underlying health issues

Physical health conditions can cause ED. These include: conditions that can lead to low testosterone levels such as an overactive or underactive thyroid, diseases that affect your heart and blood flow for example diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure, nervous system disorders such as Parkinson’s Disease and Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and penis-related problems like Peyronie’s disease.

6. You’re eating too much

Heavy meals can reduce the absorption of Viagra into the bloodstream, negatively impacting the way it works. You should aim to eat a light meal, preferably a few hours before taking Viagra, to maximise its effectiveness. Avoid foods high in fat or carbohydrate as they can slow down the rate of absorption of Viagra into your bloodstream.

7. Your ED is psychological

Your mental state can often impact your sex life. Low self-esteem, work stress, bereavement and performance anxiety can affect confidence in the bedroom. Certain conditions such as depression can also cause ED, and sometimes, medication used to treat these conditions can also play a part. It is important to get the right type of help, such as sex therapy or counselling. Part of your therapy may even include taking Viagra, as the act of taking a pill can serve as a confidence booster.  

 

What to do if Viagra does not work?

When Viagra doesn’t work, you may feel frustrated. But don’t give up on it yet. There are a few things you can try to improve the effectiveness of Viagra.

1. Give it a chance

You may be disappointed that Viagra hasn’t worked the first time but try to remain patient. You may need to give yourself time to be more comfortable with Viagra mentally adjust to the idea of taking a pill before sex. It’s now very common and you’re not alone. Whilst ED is not a common topic of discussion amongst peers, there’s a good chance that many people you know also use ED treatments.

2. Relax

Easy to say, but Viagra will only work when you are sexually aroused. Anxiety, stress, and nerves can all interfere with your response to Viagra. Foreplay, breathing techniques, and mental imagery can help you to relax and get into the right frame of mind. This will maximise the chances of Viagra working.

3. Take Viagra on an empty stomach

Viagra is best taken on an empty stomach one hour before sex. Eating food directly before taking Viagra will delay its absorption and result in its effectiveness being slowed down. Ideally take Viagra with a glass of water, and if you have consumed a heavy meal, wait 2 hours before taking Viagra.

4. Take it at the right time

You should take Viagra one hour before sexual activity for optimal results. Taking it too early doesn’t allow enough time for the drug to get into your bloodstream. Taking it too late means that the drug will have already reached its peak levels in the bloodstream and may have a reduced effectiveness as levels start to drop.

5. Try alternative ED treatment

There is no “one size fits all” approach to treating ED. We are all different and respond differently to treatment. If you have done everything you can to improve your chances of Viagra working, and still not achieving desirable results, there are alternative ED treatments that you can try.

  • Tadalafil – This medication belongs to the same class of drugs as Viagra, PDE5 inhibitors. It is also known by its brand name, Cialis. Tadalafil is taken 30 minutes before sexual activity and can last for up to 36 hours. It is also available as a daily tablet, which is taken every day, for those that do not wish to schedule sexual encounters or wish to benefit from spontaneous sexual activity.
  • Vardenafil – This medication is recommended for diabetics. It is also known by its brand name, Levitra. It needs to be taken around 25 minutes before sexual activity and can last for 4-6 hours.
  • Avanafil – This medication is also known as Spedra. It is effective in as little as 15 minutes and can benefit those who wish to take a tablet with a fast onset of action. It usually lasts around four hours.

 

Does Viagra stop working?

It is possible for Viagra to stop working. This is usually due to changes in your health or the way in which you take Viagra. Unlike antibiotics, you cannot build up resistance to Viagra in theory. However, some men may find that Viagra stops working for them, or it is not as good as it once was.

Viagra may not always work. Factors such as stress, fatigue, anxiety can sometimes mean that you won’t respond as well to Viagra. Don’t give up on Viagra because of one or two mishaps.

If Viagra continues to be ineffective and it has worked previously, consider what changes you may have made more recently. Have you been having a meal just before taking Viagra? Have you started to have a few drinks after taking Viagra? Are you taking it at the right time and not too early or too late for it to be optimally effective? Is you having relationship problems or feeling depressed?

 

What to do if Viagra doesn’t work

If Viagra doesn’t work, don’t despair. When Viagra doesn’t work, you can speak to your prescriber or doctor and consider your options. Other medications may work better for you, lifestyle changes or working with a therapist may produce the results you desire and ensure you have a fulfilling sex life.


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.