Is Viagra Effective?

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Viagra is probably one of the most famous medicines known around the world in the pharmaceutical market in the last 30 years. It was originally designed to treat high blood pressure and angina but when the ‘adverse effects’ were discovered to help with erectile problems, it became an opportunity to market Viagra for this purpose instead. It certainly gained much attention and demand since erectile dysfunction is not something most men choose to ignore.

 

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How it works

Erectile dysfunction in the UK is common, with approximately 1 in 5 men affected by it. It is otherwise known as impotence which means that a man cannot get an erection or sustain it long enough for satisfactory sexual intercourse. Unfortunately, this can have negative physical and psychological effects on the man and not forgetting his partner too and ultimately can put a strain on relationships. It is, therefore, no surprise that a person suffering from the disorder will question if Viagra is effective because understandably so, they will want something that will work for them and change their life for the better.
Viagra is the brand name for the active ingredient, Sildenafil. It works by blocking an enzyme in the body causing the muscles of blood vessels to relax and allow the blood vessels to widen. This results in an increase in blood flow to the penis which allows an erection to occur once a man is sexually stimulated. It is important to note that Viagra does not cause psychological sexual stimulation – this is up to the man and his partner to do, but instead, Viagra works to gain a physical effect which is the erection of the penis. However, without the sexual stimulation or arousal which could be through engaging in foreplay or role-playing, Viagra will not work. It is therefore important that a healthcare professional should always advise the person taking Viagra to swallow one tablet about 30 minutes to 1 hour before the anticipated sexual activity. Not only will time be given for the tablet to be absorbed by the body, but also you can prepare for getting sexually stimulated so that the Viagra can start working.

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How it’s taken

Viagra is available in strengths of 25mg, 50mg and 100mg tablets and usually, only one tablet is to be taken in any 24 hour period, on an empty stomach and with a full glass of water. When taken, its effects will usually last up to 5 hours and most men notice the effects within 2 or 3 hours but there are factors that can affect how well it works. For example, taking Viagra with food (in particular a high-fat meal) can delay absorption of the tablet in the body and this means that it will take longer to work.
Alcohol consumption can also delay its effect and work against Viagra because alcohol can reduce the blood flow to the genitals. Age is another factor, as older men find that Viagra can work for longer and this is because their liver function (which breaks down Viagra and excrete it from the body) has slowed down, therefore Viagra stays in the body longer. Of course, taking the right dose has a significant impact too. If you are prescribed too low a dose, there will not be a significant effect and each person should have individualised treatment.
Grapefruit juice is a well-known food-drug interaction and it can increase the levels of Viagra in the body because it reduces the rate at which Viagra is broken down and excreted by the liver. This means that the risk of side effects of Viagra can be experienced which include headaches, facial flushing and dizziness. Some medication can do the opposite and reduce the effectiveness of Viagra such as Rifampicin used for the treatment of tuberculosis and St John’s Wort, a herbal remedy used for treating depression. There are some medical conditions that can increase the risk of erectile dysfunction such as diabetes, high blood pressure and Parkinson’s diseases. These diseases can damage the blood vessels and effect nervous stimulation and prevent them from supplying a sufficient amount of blood to the penis to help with getting and maintaining erections. Viagra can be prescribed in these circumstances after having a consultation with the doctor to assess suitability and starting dose. However, there are some uncommon cases that treatment of erectile dysfunction may not be really effective. For example, if there is profound nerve loss such as in some types of prostatectomy, Viagra will not likely be effective. Also, the presence of severe arterial disease (which is not very common) can also reduce the likelihood of Viagra to work.

Is Viagra Effective?

When considering the question of ‘is Viagra effective?’ it is useful to also know about the facts and figures of how Viagra became so well known. It is interesting to mention that in late 1993 the first study of Viagra for the treatment of erectile dysfunction was so successful that the men and their partners protested when the trials were completed and the medication was withdrawn! Extensions to the studies were then granted based on ‘humanitarian relief’ for those couples suffering from erectile dysfunction problems. By 1997, over 4500 men were tested which is much more than the average number of people tested in a clinical trial of a new medicine. Within 6 months, Viagra hit the market with the indication to treat erectile dysfunction in 1998 by a company called Pfizer. In 2008, Viagra generated $1.93 billion of revenue and had some of the fastest prescription uptake and sales growth of any medication. So there is no doubt that the discovery and development of Viagra is a revolutionary event in both medicine and society and there is evidence for its effectiveness!
In 1998, an American 12 – week study was carried out on 329 men suffering from erectile dysfunction where some men were given placebo (no active drug) and others the active (Viagra) drug. It was reported that 74% of men found improved erections with taking Viagra and only 16% for the placebo. The study concluded that Viagra is an effective, reliable and well-tolerated treatment for erectile dysfunction both physically and psychologically. The results of this study were published and prescribing of Viagra significantly increased with reports of over 70% success rates.

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Overall, you can make Viagra more effective for you if it is taken correctly and there are a number of ways you can do that:

  • Take the minimum, effective dose for you. If needed, you can increase the strength to 100mg maximum after consulting with your doctor
  • Take on an empty stomach, avoiding high-fat meals in particular
  • Take 30 minutes to 1 hour before sexual activity
  • Reduce alcohol intake when taking Viagra
  • Ensure good sexual stimulation to maximise the benefit of Viagra
  • Always mention to the pharmacist when buying medicines from the pharmacy just in case they may interact with your Viagra (such as St John’s wort)

There is no doubt that this little blue pill known as Viagra has brought positive results in the lives of many couples and has been of great interest in the media. It is globally known for its effectiveness through the positive results in past clinical trials and real-life prescribing to solve the problems of erectile dysfunction. There is no expectation that this medicine, at any time soon, will lose its importance and need for the many couples in the UK and all over the world who use it…and why not? If clinical trials, patient testimonies and healthcare professionals all over the world can claim its effectiveness and in particular if taken in the right way, then surely one can agree that Viagra can be effective in most people!

 

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References

  1. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov (Four-year review of Sildenafil Citrate)
  2. www.everydayhealth.com/drugs/viagra
  3. www.medicalnewstoday.com (Uses and risks of Viagra, January 2018)
  4. www.zavamed.com/uk/how-long-viagra-lasts
  5. BNF.org (Viagra, Sildenafil)

Assured Pharmacy is not liable for the currency or accuracy of the information contained in this blog post. For specific information about your personal medical condition, please contact our doctors or pharmacists for advice on [email protected].