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Sildenafil (Viagra)

BMJ Group Medical Reference

Introduction

This information is for men who have erection problems. It tells you about sildenafil (Viagra), a treatment used for erection problems. It is based on the best and most up-to-date research.

Does it work?

Yes. Sildenafil can help you get firmer, longer-lasting erections. It can also help you have better sex with your partner.

Sildenafil helps erection problems with many different causes. So even if your erection problems are caused by diabetes or an injury to your spinal cord, sildenafil can work for you.

We don't know for sure whether sildenafil works better than other treatments for erection problems.

What is it?

Sildenafil is a tablet for treating erection problems. You may have heard of Viagra, its brand name. Sildenafil helps you have erections. But it works only if you have sexual thoughts or if your penis is touched or rubbed.

You take sildenafil about one hour before you plan to have sex. You can use it once a day.

Sildenafil is not available to everyone on the NHS. For more, see Treatment for erection problems on the NHS.

You usually need a doctor's prescription for sildenafil, but a few pharmacists have made special arrangements to sell it over the counter. This scheme only applies to a small number of shops, so it's probably best to check before you go. You'll need a detailed check-up with a pharmacist before they can sell you the drug.

How can it help?

Taking sildenafil can help by: [23] [24] [25] [26] [27] [28] [29] [30] [31]

  • Giving you an erection firm enough to start having sex

  • Keeping your penis firm enough to continue having sex

  • Making you more likely to ejaculate (this is when you climax and semen comes out of your penis) during sex

  • Making sex more enjoyable

  • Making you more satisfied with your sex life and your sexual relationship with your partner.

Sildenafil helps 8 in 10 men have at least one episode of successful sex. [24] This compares with 4 or 5 out of 10 men who take a dummy treatment (a placebo).

In one study, men who took sildenafil got an erection that was firm enough for sex just over half an hour after taking the drug. [32]

Sildenafil seems to help men have sex whatever the cause of their erection problem. Men with diabetes, spinal cord injuries, prostate cancer, and heart disease have all found it helpful. [24] [25] [26] [28] [31] [33] [34] It may also help men who have erection problems as a side effect of taking drugs for schizophrenia (antipsychotic drugs). [35]

Sildenafil works just as well as injections of a drug called alprostadil. [36]

You shouldn't take sildenafil if you're taking a drug called a nitrate. That's because the two drugs together can make your blood pressure dangerously low. See Nitrates and drugs for erection problems for more information.

Last Updated: August 15, 2013
This information does not replace medical advice.  If you are concerned you might have a medical problem please ask your Boots pharmacy team in your local Boots store, or see your doctor.

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