Sildenafil is a medication used to treat erectile dysfunction in men. ED is a common condition affecting 50% of males. Explore, what is sildenafil and how to take sildenafil effectively.

What is sildenafil?

It is a medication used to treat Erectile Dysfunction (ED) in men. Sildenafil is a phosphodiesterase type 5 (PDE5) inhibitor. It works by increasing blood flow to the penis, helping to achieve and maintain an erection. The tension eases in the muscles, which promotes enhanced blood circulation during sexual stimulation. 

Sildenafil can also be used for a type of high blood pressure known as pulmonary hypertension.

How should I take sildenafil?

For ED, the tablets can be swallowed 30 minutes to an hour before sexual activity. It can be taken up to 4 hours before sexual activity as for some people it can take that long to work. The tablets are to be swallowed with a glass of water and can be taken with or without food.  

In clinical studies sildenafil was effective in treating erectile dysfunction. Across them 43% to 83% of people who took it had improved erections. The difference varies depending on the dosage that was taken.

The tablets are available in three strengths, 25mg, 50mg and 100mg. The doctor usually prescribes the lower strength to begin with. Slowly based on the patients response and the side effects they have, the dosage can be increased. It is safe and effective to be used as a long term treatment. 

The dosage should be followed as per the doctor’s instructions. Individuals should not take more than one dose of sildenafil within a 24 hour period. This is to ensure minimized side effects and complications. 

In pulmonary hypertension the sildenafil dosage is 10mg to 20 mg and can be taken 3 times a day. 

It takes 30 to 60 minutes after the dose for the medication to begin working. The medication itself doesn’t work without sexual arousal. The effect will decrease over a period of a few hours and will stop working within 4-6 hours. This means that if aroused, a male can achieve an erection up to 4 hours after taking the dose.

Though sildenafil keeps working in the body for several hours, that is not indicative of how long an erection should last. The half life of Viagra (sildenafil) is about 4 hours. It means 4 hours later, the body has cleared half of the dose. It can take up to 24 hours to fully remove the medication from the body. 

Sildenafil is recommended on an empty stomach to allow the drug to work faster. The meals high in fat may cause it to take longer than usual to start working. Combining the medication with a healthy lifestyle can have many benefits. Such as improving other conditions like high blood pressure, high cholesterol or diabetes. 

Regular exercise and eating a healthy diet not only improve overall health but circulation to make sildenafil more effective. 

Sildenafil is generally safe and well tolerated; it may cause some mild or serious side effects. Common side effects differ for which reason sildenafil is being used for. For ED reasons the side effects could be less due to the short time of consumption. Whereas for pulmonary hypertension the side effects could be more as it is taken daily for a longer period of time. 

Common side effects could include headache, nasal congestion, nausea and flushing. These side effects may go away within a few days and if they become bothersome contact a doctor or pharmacist. 

Sildenafil can cause serious side effects such as heart problems/heart disease like heart attack. It can cause loss of vision or loss of hearing in some. In rare cases, Viagra can cause long-lasting painful erection which is an emergency and needs medical attention right away. If not treated the condition can damage the tissues in the penis and cause irreversible ED. 

Consulting a doctor

Before beginning any treatment for ED or hypertension, it is important to call your doctor and talk about the appropriateness of sildenafil tablets in your scenario. A healthcare professional should know your existing medical conditions and medications and can effectively determine if sildenafil is a good choice. Consulting a doctor about erectile dysfunction would ensure that all lifestyle and treatment options are considered. 

Consult a doctor