What is Viagra™?
Viagra (sildenafil citrate) is the first approved non-surgical treatment for erectile dysfunction (ED) that does not have to be either injected or inserted directly into the penis to achieve and maintain an erection. The oral medication was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for prescription sale in 1998.
Diabetes, heart disease (high cholesterol), high blood pressure, nephritis, and liver disease are diseases that may cause ED. Consider the following:
- Diabetes is one of the more common medical causes of ED. More than half of all men ages 65 and older with diabetes also have ED to some degree.
- Heart disease is the most common disease linked to ED. It can be an early sign of heart disease.
- Two out of three men with high blood pressure also have ED to some degree.
What are the general precautions for taking Viagra?
Men who are taking medications that contain nitrates, such as nitroglycerin, should NOT use Viagra. The two medications taken together may decrease blood pressure to the extent that adverse effects may occur.
Viagra should NOT be used by women or children.
Viagra's use in combination with other ED treatments has not been studied, therefore, its use in combination with other treatments is NOT recommended.
Elderly men are especially sensitive to the effects of Viagra, which may increase their chance of having side effects.
Men with medical conditions that may cause a sustained erection such as sickle cell anemia, leukemia or multiple myeloma, or men who have an abnormally shaped penis may not be able to take Viagra. Also, men with liver diseases or a disease of the retina, such as macular degeneration or retina pigmentosa, may not be able to take Viagra, or may need to take the lowest doseage.
Research is being conducted in patients who have a history of heart attack, stroke, or life-threatening irregular heart rhythm within the last 6 months; very low and very high blood pressure; heart failure or unstable chest pain; and certain eye disorders.
Experts recommend that these general precautions be follwed before a man takes Viagra:
- Have a complete medical history and physical examination to determine the cause of your erectile dysfunction.
- Tell your physician about all the medications you are taking - including over-the-counter ones - as there are medications (in addition to nitrates) known to be contraindicated with Viagra.
What are the side effects of Viagra?
The most common side effects of Viagra include:
- facial flushing
- nasal congestion
The less common side effects of Viagra include:
- abnormal vision, blurred vision
- sensitivity to light
- bladder pain
- cloudy or bloody urine
- pain on urination
If a patient experiences chest pain, nausea, or any other discomforts during sex or after an erection that last longer than four hours, immediate medical attention should be sought.
How does Viagra work?
For a man to achieve an erection, the muscles of the penis relax and allow blood to flow and pool in a part of the penis called the corpora cavernosa. Viagra relaxes the smooth muscles of the penis allowing this area to fill with blood. For Viagra to work, sexual stimulation is necessary.
Viagra is effective in a majority of patients, but the rate of improvement depends on the cause of ED. Viagra does not increase sex drive (libido) and it does not affect the orgasm.
The usual dose of Viagra is taken one hour before sex, on an empty stomach or after a light meal. The effect of the pill may last up to four hours. This means that an erection may occur up to four hours after taking the pill, and does not mean the erection will last four hours.
Viagra should be used only once per day when needed. A physician will work with a patient to find the lowest dose that works in order to avoid having side effects.
Always consult your physician for more information.