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Things to know about Viagra

The down side of Viagra

Some common side-effects are:

  • blocked nose
  • headache
  • red face and chest
  • upset stomach
  • slight changes in vision.

These drugs are less likely to work if you’re anxious or your hard-on difficulties have a physical cause like diabetes, poor circulation or prostate problems.

Rare side effects include:

  • blindness
  • stroke
  • heart attack
  • sudden death*

*Death is more likely to happen to older men or those who have existing health problems, especially if they’re already on nitrate-based drugs for a heart condition.

Useful to know

Viagra can now be bought at some chemists and supermarkets without a prescription, but only after a health check.

Viagra has come ‘off patent’, which means ‘generic Viagra’ can now be obtained through your GP. It’s a lot cheaper per tablet than when it was only available as trademarked Viagra. If the cost of Viagra was previously too high for you, then it might be worth talking to your GP or sexual health clinic.

Pills sold over the Internet may be fakes.

Check with a doctor before taking erection drugs, especially if you’re more likely to have a dangerous reaction.

You’re at higher risk of a dangerous reaction if you are:

  • older
  • overweight
  • being treated for heart problems (especially with nitrate-based drugs)
  • diagnosed with abnormal blood pressure (and/or are taking alpha blockers for this)
  • on HIV drugs (protease inhibitors)
  • have had a stroke/heart attack
  • have glaucoma (high blood pressure in the eye) or diabetes.

To take Viagra, swallow one pill (or half of one) about half an hour before sex.

Viagra doesn’t work as well if you’ve had a fatty meal or alcohol.

A higher dose doesn’t necessarily mean better hard-ons, just more side effects.

You shouldn’t take more than one dose over 24 hours.

Mixing drugs

HIV drugs

Protease inhibitors push up levels of the erection drug in the body, worsening its side-effects. A lower dose – up to 25mg over 48 hours – of Viagra will be needed.

It’s important to check what dose you should take with your HIV doctor as there has been one reported death of a man using Viagra and also taking ritonavir and saquinavir.

Poppers

Some makers of erection drugs warn against using them with poppers, as both lower blood pressure.

Poppers are nitrites. Similar drugs called nitrates are taken by people with heart conditions.

Taking Viagra and similar drugs while on nitrates has killed men by causing a fatal drop in blood pressure. So to be on the safe side, caution is advised with poppers (nitrites) too.

Crystal meth

Mixing Viagra with crystal puts extra strain on the heart, causes sudden shifts in blood pressure and can lead to strokes, chest pains and heart attacks.

MDMA

Viagra and MDMA together could strain the heart, and this mixture has been known to cause a hard-on that won’t go down.

An erection lasting over four hours can damage a dick. If that happens to you, get medical help straight away.

Other drugs

Cocaine, mephedrone and speed, or chems that might have speed in them such as MDMA – when taken together with Viagra these put extra pressure on the heart.

More info

Problems with hard-ons can have physical causes, but can also be down to anxiety, lack of testosterone (which can be a problem for some men with HIV), tiredness, sexual boredom, alcohol, drugs and some medicines, including drugs for HIV or depression.

For more information check out the Sexual Advice Association.

Last review: 24/08/2018
Next review: 24/08/2021