Common Uses for Viagra

Viagra, otherwise known by the generic brand name sildenafil citrate, needs no introduction — but we'll give one anyway.

Since 1998, this drug has come out on top for the management of erectile dysfunction. In most cases, a single tablet is all that's required to produce firmer and longer-lasting erections. Studies have shown a 70 percent to 80 percent success rate in patients who use this treatment.

But beyond erectile dysfunction, this medication may have a number of tricks up its bottle cap. We'll be examining other uses of Viagra, likely side-effects following its usage, as well as possible drug interactions. But first, we'll look into what makes Viagra so effective at treating erectile dysfunction.

How Does Viagra Treat Erectile Dysfunction?

Erections happen when the smooth muscles of the penis relax. This causes penile arteries to widen, allowing for increased blood flow to the penis. When this happens, the blood becomes trapped to produce a firm erection.

While it may sound easy enough, this process is made possible by intricate and coordinated efforts of nerves, blood vessels, muscles, and veins in the penis.

This smooth muscle relaxation is the most critical point in the erection process.

Where this process is interrupted, it can lead to erectile dysfunction.

A major way these muscles can be impaired is through activities of the enzyme — Phosphodiesterase type 5 (PDE-5). Viagra, through its active ingredient sildenafil, acts as a vasodilator to prevent these activities. This means it encourages the flow of blood by encouraging smooth muscle relaxation for longer, firmer erections.

However, while this medication can help with the management of erectile dysfunction, it isn't a one-pop shop for every sexual improvement you'd like to achieve. With that in mind, you should know that Viagra will not increase penis size, may not boost your sex drive, and has very little to show that it can prevent tiredness during sex. And we’re not just saying that either — a study carried out on 60 men confirmed it too.

What it can do is make it very easy for you to achieve and maintain an erection during sexual activity. In some instances, Viagra has also been found to reduce the amount of time it takes to swing back to action after reaching orgasm.

Common Benefits of Viagra

Viagra's ability to increase blood flow has led to its decades-old bragging rights as a treatment for erectile dysfunction. This feature however makes this medication useful for managing other conditions. These include:

  • Pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH)
  • Mountain sickness
  • Raynaud's phenomenon
  • Heart disease

Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension (PAH)

PAH is a pretty serious condition that occurs where the tiny arteries that go from the heart to the lungs, experience high blood pressure. Normally, the pulmonary artery supplies oxygen-filled blood from the lungs to the heart — but with this condition, the arteries are blocked, narrowed, or may be destroyed.

Where this happens, blood pressure in the lungs increases. The heart has to work harder to get blood through those tiny arteries, a process which can eventually tire it out, or even cause the heart to fail. Viagra can help to reduce blood pressure in the lungs by repeating its role as a vasodilator.

This is because PDE-5 — the same enzyme that prevents the flow of blood to the penile smooth muscles — is also spread throughout the lungs. Viagra uses its ability to bind to this enzyme to cause the arteries in the lungs to relax and widen. This reduces blood pressure to the lungs and helps to ease the effort of the heart in pumping blood away from the lungs.

In a study comparing the effects of sildenafil and bosentan — a popular drug for managing PAH, sildenafil was found to be just as effective in managing the condition. It was shown to improve heart function and the exercise capacity of patients.

Sildenafil is so effective at managing PAH, that it's marketed under the name Revatio, as one of nine FDA-approved treatment methods for the condition.

Mountain Sickness

In addition to a massive adrenaline rush, mountain climbing can come with a bout of altitude sickness when extreme heights are reached.

Symptoms of this condition include dizziness, headaches, muscle aches and, in severe cases, high altitude pulmonary edema (HAPE), where blood vessels in the lungs leak, filling it with fluid. 

These symptoms occur when blood-oxygen levels all the way up in the mountain are reduced. Altitude sickness may be fatal where symptoms are severe, and the person experiencing it  remains in a high altitude. In even more extreme cases, mountain sickness may lead to high-altitude pulmonary hypertension.

Because Viagra is able to widen blood vessels, it is able to increase blood flow through the heart, permitting more oxygen to get to the lungs and improved oxygen supply to the rest of the body. This can help to prevent mountain sickness.

In a study to determine the effectiveness of sildenafil in ten cyclists operating at a high altitude, this medication was found to improve heart function and oxygen levels in the blood. It also enhanced performance levels in some participants.

Raynaud’s Phenomenon

Even when you least expect it, your body is mostly always looking out for you. One of such ways is preserving body heat in cold temperatures. Your body achieves this by restricting blood flow to the skin.

Something similar occurs in Raynaud's phenomenon — blood flow to the hands and feet is reduced, causing them to feel numb and cool. This condition may also occur under emotional stress.

Raynaud's phenomenon is more annoying than it is serious, although severe cases can lead to tissue death in the hands or feet which may require amputation.

Viagra's ability to improve conditions in people affected by Raynaud's phenomenon was confirmed in a study where participants started off on 100g of sildenafil for 3 days, before moving on to 200g for two days. This medication was able to treat the condition, and was well tolerated.

Heart Disease

Viagra has come full circle in managing heart disease. It was originally created to manage hypertension and angina, but was found more effective in improving erectile dysfunction. It turns out that this medication can in fact help with matters of the heart, as noted in its effects on heart failure.

One of the most common forms of heart failure occurs when the left heart ventricle which is responsible for pumping oxygen-rich blood to the rest of the body — is unable to do so effectively. This causes blood to back up into the lungs, and can lead to a buildup of fluid.

Regular long-term use of sildenafil has been shown to improve left ventricle function, and is able to strengthen the structure of a failing left ventricle.

Its role as a PDE5-inhibitor may help to prevent the thickening of heart muscles, a feature that makes it difficult to pump blood. This role may be replicated to prevent thickened heart valves. 

Viagra has also shown real promise for increasing the amount of blood pumped by the heart.

Side Effects of Viagra

However, like any medication, these benefits may sometimes come with a side of not-so-beneficial reactions

Viagra may cause the following side-effects:

  • Flushing
  • Headaches
  • Indigestion

Also, Viagra should not be combined with antiretroviral drugs used to treat HIV/AIDS as this can cause an increased concentration of sildenafil in the body.

Likewise, you want to be careful when using Viagra with antihypertensive medication. This is because Viagra has blood pressure lowering abilities, pairing it with another medication geared towards reducing blood pressure could cause a fatal drop in blood pressure. 

This is especially serious when Viagra is combined with nitrates, but is less grave when used together with other antihypertensive drugs like diuretics or alpha and beta blockers.

Closing Off

Through its active ingredient, sildenafil — Viagra has made its way to medicine cabinets the world over as a trusted medication for erectile dysfunction.

However, beyond its benefits for erectile dysfunction, there are other medical uses for Viagra such as managing mountain sickness, as well as conditions like Raynaud's phenomenon.

To learn more about Viagra and sexual health, you can check out a bunch of articles on the blog. However, always consult with a trusted medical professional to determine the best ways to use this medication for your wellness. 

Once that’s decided, we'll help you get easy access to affordable Viagra from the comfort of your home.

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.