Viagra (Sildenafil) for Erectile Dysfunction

WHAT IS SILDENAFIL (VIAGRA)?

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Generic Viagra — is the first and the most well-known remedy for male erection. Its active ingredient is called Sildenafil. It provides enhanced blood flow to the male genital area. The cavernous body is relaxed, then is filled with blood abundantly, whereby an erection appears, sufficient to perform an act of intimacy. Sildenafil has no effect on the brain. An erection is achieved only if there is a natural sexual arousal.

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VIAGRA (sildenafil citrate), an oral therapy for erectile dysfunction, is the citrate salt of sildenafil, a selective inhibitor of cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cGMP)-specific phosphodiesterase type 5 (PDE5).  Sildenafil citrate is designated chemically as 1-[[3-(6,7-dihydro-1-methyl-7-oxo-3-propyl-1H-pyrazolo[4,3d]pyrimidin-5-yl)-4-ethoxyphenyl]sulfonyl]-4-methylpiperazine citrate and has the following structural formula:

Sildenafil citrate is a white to off-white crystalline powder with a solubility of 3.5 mg/mL in water and a molecular weight of 666.7. Sildenafil is the active ingredient in Viagra, which is nicknamed the little blue pill. Sildenafil, in doses ranging between 25mg and 100mg, has been FDA approved to treat erectile dysfunction.

VIAGRA is formulated as blue, film-coated rounded-diamond-shaped tablets equivalent to 25 mg, 50 mg and 100 mg of sildenafil for oral administration. In addition to the active ingredient, sildenafil citrate, each tablet contains the following inactive ingredients: microcrystalline cellulose, anhydrous dibasic calcium phosphate, croscarmellose sodium, magnesium stearate, hypromellose, titanium dioxide, lactose, triacetin, and FD & C Blue #2 aluminum lake.

Your physician, based on the information you share with them (including your preference and previous use of the medication), will recommend a starting dose. They can also work with you to increase or decrease your dose based on effectiveness and toleration (i.e., titrate your dose). This enables you to achieve the desired effect while taking the least amount of medication.

Sildenafil (Viagra), Cialis, and Levitra are part of a “family” of drugs called PDE-5 inhibitors. You can read more about how they work here.

It is recommended that several attempts are made using the recommended starting dose before adjusting. Several factors can affect the efficacy of sildenafil citrate, including sexual stimulation, and what you eat and drink at the time.

There are several documented reasons why a 100mg dose may be better for the patient:

  1. Efficacy. Sildenafil and other Phosphodiesterase type 5 (PDE5) drugs work by increasing blood flow to the penis. Though the 100mg effects do not last longer than a lower dosage, the higher concentration does have a more profound effect. However, it is not a good idea to use a higher strength tablet than you really need. Side effects are more likely at higher doses.
  2. Satisfaction with treatment. Naturally a stronger tablet has a better chance of achieving desired results – achieving and maintaining an erection hard enough for sexual intercourse. This in turn results in not only physical but emotional satisfaction, helping couples in their relationships and improving the man’s self-esteem.
  3. Reduced anxiety. A number of factors go into the success of an ED medication, and they are not guaranteed to work every time. This uncertainty can lead to a great deal of anxiety for couples who have already had to deal with the frustration of erectile dysfunction – not knowing if they should again get their hopes up for a successful sexual encounter only to be disappointed. The higher dose can therefore have a positive psychological effect, helping men and their partners to feel more confident about having sex.

HOW Viagra WORKS?

Sildenafil lasts up to 8 hours, which means it is in and out of your system faster than Cialis, which can last up to 36 hours. Some people prefer Sildenafil because if they experience side effects, even if minor, they would rather not experience them for up to 36 hours. On the other hand, some people prefer Cialis mainly because it lasts an extended period of time.

The manufacturers of Viagra recommend taking Viagra one hour before having sex. However, studies have suggested that it could start working even sooner than that. Some men were able to achieve an erection just 12 minutes after taking Viagra, although this wasn’t conclusively proven to be due to Viagra. And while the maximum concentration of sildenafil in the blood isn’t reached until about an hour after taking it (and is potentially delayed by an additional hour if taken with food), it took a median of 27 minutes (with a range of 12–70 minutes) for men taking sildenafil to begin experiencing erections.  This was 23 minutes sooner than the median time of 50 minutes experienced by those who took a placebo.

The half-life of Viagra in the body is about four hours, meaning that every four hours after taking it, there’s only half as much of the drug left. However, even 10 to 12 hours after taking Viagra, men could still often achieve erections hard enough for penetration, though of a shorter duration. By 24 hours, all traces of Viagra in the blood are practically gone.

Another reason some people prefer Sildenafil, compared to Levitra, is because it has fewer conflicting medications and functions very similarly in terms of absorption.

It comes down to your personal preference and response to the medication. Please consult with your physician if you have any questions.

Why is this medication prescribed?

Sildenafil (Viagra) is used to treat erectile dysfunction (impotence; inability to get or keep an erection) in men. Sildenafil (Revatio) is used to improve the ability to exercise in adults with pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH; high blood pressure in the vessels carrying blood to the lungs, causing shortness of breath, dizziness, and tiredness). Children should not usually take sildenafil, but in some cases, a doctor may decide that sildenafil (Revatio) is the best medication to treat a child’s condition. Sildenafil is in a class of medications called phosphodiesterase (PDE) inhibitors. Sildenafil treats erectile dysfunction by increasing blood flow to the penis during sexual stimulation. This increased blood flow can cause an erection. Sildenafil treats PAH by relaxing the blood vessels in the lungs to allow blood to flow easily.

If you are taking sildenafil to treat erectile dysfunction, you should know that it does not cure erectile dysfunction or increase sexual desire. Sildenafil does not prevent pregnancy or the spread of sexually transmitted diseases such as human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

How should this medicine be used?

Sildenafil comes as a tablet and suspension (liquid; Revatio only) to take by mouth.

If you are taking sildenafil to treat erectile dysfunction, follow your doctor’s directions and the guidelines in this paragraph. Take sildenafil as needed before sexual activity. The best time to take sildenafil is about 1 hour before sexual activity, but you can take the medication any time from 4 hours to 30 minutes before sexual activity. Sildenafil usually should not be taken more than once every 24 hours. If you have certain health conditions or are taking certain medications, your doctor may tell you to take sildenafil less often. You can take sildenafil with or without food. However, if you take sildenafil with a high-fat meal, it will take longer for the medication to start to work.

If you are taking sildenafil to treat PAH, follow your doctor’s directions and the guidelines in this paragraph. You will probably take sildenafil three times a day with or without food. Take sildenafil at around the same times every day, and space your doses about 4 to 6 hours apart.

Follow the directions on your prescription label carefully, and ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain any part you do not understand. Take sildenafil exactly as directed. Do not take more or less of it or take it more often than prescribed by your doctor.

Shake the liquid well for 10 seconds before each use to mix the medication evenly. Use the oral syringe provided with your medication to measure and take your dose. Follow the manufacturer’s directions to use and clean the oral syringe. Do not mix the liquid with other medications or add anything to flavor the medication.

If you are taking sildenafil for erectile dysfunction, your doctor will probably start you on an average dose of sildenafil and increase or decrease your dose depending on your response to the medication. Tell your doctor if sildenafil is not working well or if you are experiencing side effects.

If you are taking sildenafil for PAH, you should know that sildenafil controls PAH but does not cure it. Continue to take sildenafil even if you feel well. Do not stop taking sildenafil without talking to your doctor.

Ask your pharmacist or doctor for a copy of the manufacturer’s information for the patient.

Other uses for this medicine

This medication is sometimes prescribed for other uses; ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.

What special precautions should I follow?

Before taking sildenafil,

  • tell your doctor and pharmacist if you are allergic to sildenafil, any other medications, or any of the ingredients in sildenafil products. Ask your pharmacist for a list of the ingredients.
  • do not take sildenafil if you are taking or have recently taken riociguat (Adempas) or nitrates (medications for chest pain) such as isosorbide dinitrate (Isordil), isosorbide mononitrate (Monoket), and nitroglycerin (Minitran, Nitro-Dur, Nitromist, Nitrostat, others). Nitrates come as tablets, sublingual (under the tongue) tablets, sprays, patches, pastes, and ointments. Ask your doctor if you are not sure whether any of your medications contain nitrates.
  • do not take street drugs containing nitrates such as amyl nitrate and butyl nitrate (‘poppers’) while taking sildenafil.
  • tell your doctor and pharmacist what prescription and nonprescription medications, vitamins, and nutritional supplements you are taking or plan to take. Be sure to mention any of the following: alpha blockers such as alfuzosin (Uroxatral), doxazosin (Cardura), prazosin (Minipress), tamsulosin (Flomax, in Jalyn), and terazosin; amlodipine (Norvasc, in Amturnide, in Tekamlo); certain antifungals such as itraconazole (Onmel, Sporanox) and ketoconazole (Nizoral); anticoagulants (‘blood thinners’) such as warfarin (Coumadin, Jantoven); certain barbiturates such as butalbital (in Butapap, in Fioricet, in Fiorinal, others) and secobarbital (Seconal); beta blockers such as atenolol (Tenormin, in Tenoretic), labetalol (Trandate), metoprolol (Lopressor, Toprol XL, in Dutoprol), nadolol (Corgard, in Corzide), and propranolol (Hemangeol, Inderal LA, InnoPran); bosentan (Tracleer); cimetidine ; efavirenz (Sustiva, in Atripla); erythromycin (E.E.S., E-Mycin, Erythrocin); HIV protease inhibitors including amprenavir (Agenerase; no longer available in the U.S.), atazanavir (Reyataz, in Evotaz), darunavir (Prezista, in Prezcobix), fosamprenavir (Lexiva), indinavir (Crixivan), lopinavir (in Kaletra), nelfinavir (Viracept), ritonavir (Norvir, in Kaletra), saquinavir (Invirase), and tipranavir (Aptivus); nevirapine (Viramune); other medications or devices to treat erectile dysfunction; medications for high blood pressure; certain medications for seizures including carbamazepine (Carbatrol, Epitol, Tegretol, others), phenobarbital, and phenytoin (Dilantin, Phenytek); rifabutin (Mycobutin); and rifampin (Rifadin, Rimactane, in Rifamate, in Rifater). Your doctor may need to change the doses of your medications or monitor you carefully for side effects. Many other medications may also interact with sildenafil, so be sure to tell your doctor about all the medications you are taking, even those that do not appear on this list.
  • tell your doctor what herbal products you are taking or plan to take, especially St. John’s wort.
  • tell your doctor if you smoke, if you have ever had an erection that lasted for several hours, and if you have recently lost a large amount of body fluids (dehydration). This can happen if you are sick with fever, diarrhea, or vomiting; sweat a lot; or do not drink enough liquids. Also tell your doctor if you have or have ever had pulmonary veno-occlusive disease (PVOD; blockage of veins in the lungs); a stomach ulcer; heart, kidney, or liver disease; a heart attack; an irregular heartbeat; a stroke; chest pain; high or low blood pressure; high cholesterol; a bleeding disorder; blood circulation problems;blood cell problems such as sickle cell anemia (a disease of the red blood cells), multiple myeloma (cancer of the plasma cells), or leukemia (cancer of the white blood cells); conditions affecting the shape of the penis (e.g., angulation, cavernosal fibrosis, or Peyronie’s disease); or diabetes. Also tell your doctor if you or any of your family members have or have ever had an eye disease such as retinitis pigmentosa (an inherited eye condition that causes loss of vision) or if you have ever had sudden severe vision loss, especially if you were told that the vision loss was caused by a blockage of blood flow to the nerves that help you see.
  • if you are a woman and you are taking sildenafil to treat PAH, tell your doctor if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breastfeeding. If you become pregnant while taking sildenafil, call your doctor.
  • if you are having surgery, including dental surgery, tell your doctor or dentist that you are taking sildenafil.
  • if you are taking sildenafil to treat erectile dysfunction, tell your doctor if you have ever been advised by a healthcare professional to avoid sexual activity for medical reasons or if you have ever experienced chest pain during sexual activity. Sexual activity may be a strain on your heart, especially if you have heart disease. If you experience chest pain, dizziness, or nausea during sexual activity, call your doctor immediately and avoid sexual activity until your doctor tells you otherwise.
  • tell all your healthcare providers that you are taking sildenafil. If you ever need emergency medical treatment for a heart problem, the healthcare providers who treat you will need to know when you last took sildenafil.

What special dietary instructions should I follow?

Talk to your doctor about eating grapefruit and drinking grapefruit juice while taking this medicine.

What should I do if I forget a dose?

If you are taking sildenafil for erectile dysfunction, you are unlikely to miss a dose since this medication is taken as needed, not on a regular dosing schedule.

If you are taking sildenafil for PAH, take the missed dose as soon as you remember it. However, if it is almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule. Do not take a double dose to make up for a missed one.

What side effects can this medication cause?

Sildenafil may cause side effects. Tell your doctor if any of these symptoms are severe or do not go away:

      • headache
      • heartburn
      • diarrhea
      • flushing (feeling of warmth)
      • nosebleeds
      • difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
      • numbness, burning, or tingling in the arms, hands, feet, or legs
      • muscle aches
      • changes in color vision (seeing a blue tinge on objects or having difficulty telling the difference between blue and green)
      • sensitivity to light

Some side effects can be serious. If you experience any of the following symptoms, call your doctor immediately:

  • sudden severe loss of vision (see below for more information)
  • blurred vision
  • sudden decrease or loss of hearing
  • ringing in ears
  • dizziness or lightheadedness
  • fainting
  • chest pain
  • worsening shortness of breath
  • erection that is painful or lasts longer than 4 hours
  • itching or burning during urination
  • rash

Some patients experienced a sudden loss of some or all of their vision after they took sildenafil or other medications that are similar to sildenafil. The vision loss was permanent in some cases. It is not known if the vision loss was caused by the medication. If you experience a sudden loss of vision while you are taking sildenafil, call your doctor immediately. Do not take any more doses of sildenafil or similar medications such as tadalafil (Cialis) or vardenafil (Levitra) until you talk to your doctor.

There have been reports of heart attack, stroke, irregular heartbeat, bleeding in the brain or lungs, high blood pressure, and sudden death in men who took sildenafil for erectile dysfunction. Most, but not all, of these people had heart problems before taking sildenafil. It is not known whether these events were caused by sildenafil, sexual activity, heart disease, or a combination of these and other causes.Talk to your doctor about the risks of taking sildenafil.

Some patients experienced a sudden decrease or loss of hearing after they took sildenafil or other medications that are similar to sildenafil. The hearing loss usually involved only one ear and did not always improve when the medication was stopped. It is not known if the hearing loss was caused by the medication. If you experience a sudden loss of hearing, sometimes with ringing in the ears or dizziness, while you are taking sildenafil, call your doctor immediately. If you are taking sildenafil (Viagra) for erectile dysfunction, do not take any more doses of sildenafil (Viagra) or similar medications such as tadalafil (Cialis) or vardenafil (Levitra) until you talk to your doctor. If you are taking sildenafil (Revatio) for PAH, do not stop taking your medication until you talk to your doctor.

Sildenafil may cause other side effects. Call your doctor if you have any unusual problems while you are taking this medication.

If you experience a serious side effect, you or your doctor may send a report to the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program online (http://www.fda.gov/Safety/MedWatch) or by phone (1-800-332-1088).

What should I know about storage and disposal of this medication?

Keep this medication in the container it came in, tightly closed, and out of reach of children. Store the tablets at room temperature and away from excess heat and moisture (not in the bathroom). Store the suspension at room temperature or in a refrigerator, but do not freeze it. Dispose of any unused suspension after 60 days.

It is important to keep all medication out of sight and reach of children as many containers (such as weekly pill minders and those for eye drops, creams, patches, and inhalers) are not child-resistant and young children can open them easily. To protect young children from poisoning, always lock safety caps and immediately place the medication in a safe location – one that is up and away and out of their sight and reach.

Unneeded medications should be disposed of in special ways to ensure that pets, children, and other people cannot consume them. However, you should not flush this medication down the toilet. Instead, the best way to dispose of your medication is through a medicine take-back program. Talk to your pharmacist or contact your local garbage/recycling department to learn about take-back programs in your community.

In case of emergency/overdose

In case of overdose, call the poison control helpline at 1-800-222-1222. Information is also available online at https://www.poisonhelp.org/help. If the victim has collapsed, had a seizure, has trouble breathing, or can’t be awakened, immediately call emergency services at 911.

What other information should I know?

Keep all appointments with your doctor.

Do not let anyone else take your medication. Ask your pharmacist any questions you have about refilling your prescription.

It is important for you to keep a written list of all of the prescription and nonprescription (over-the-counter) medicines you are taking, as well as any products such as vitamins, minerals, or other dietary supplements. You should bring this list with you each time you visit a doctor or if you are admitted to a hospital. It is also important information to carry with you in case of emergencies.

Brand names

  • Revatio®
  • Viagra®

Cialis vs. Viagra

Unlike Viagra and the other PDE5 inhibitors, Cialis is also approved to treat enlarged prostate.

Both Viagra and Cialis can be taken 30 minutes before sexual activity. However, Cialis lasts much longer and is noteworthy for the amount of time it remains in your body. You may feel the effects of the drug up to 36 hours after you take it.

The fact that it comes in a low-dose (2.5 mg) version also means that Cialis can be taken every day. A daily dose will ensure that the drug’s always in your system.

If you take Cialis, there’s a chance of limb pain. This side effect isn’t associated with any other oral ED drugs.

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Viagra Drug interactions

Each drug comes with the risk of drug interactions. Since PDE5 inhibitors work on the body in similar ways, Viagra, Cialis, Levitra, and Stendra lead to similar interactions.

All four of these drugs interact with:

      • nitrates, such as isosorbide mononitrate (Monoket) and nitroglycerin (Nitrostat)
      • certain blood pressure drugs, such as calcium channel blockers
      • alpha blockers, which can treat high blood pressure or an enlarged prostate
      • certain pulmonary hypertension drugs, such as riociguat (Adempas)
      • protease inhibitors, a class of HIV drugs
      • antifungal drugs, such as ketoconazole and itraconazole (Onmel, Sporanox)
      • antibacterial drugs, such as clarithromycin (Biaxin)

Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol while on any PDE5 inhibitor should be avoided, and you shouldn’t combine different ED drugs.

Cialis may also be less effective if used alongside antiseizure medications such as carbamazepine (Tegretol) and phenobarbital.

For specifics on which medications are safe for you to use, it’s best to consult your doctor or pharmacist.

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