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How Long Does Viagra (Sildenafil) and Other ED Medication Last?

How Long Does Viagra and Other ED Medication Last?

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Sildenafil citrate, known by the brand name Viagra, is one of the most widely used and effective drugs for treating ED, or erectile dysfunction. In many cases, a single tablet is all it takes to improve blood circulation and help produce a normal, easily sustained erection.

Like all drugs, sildenafil has a specific active life and half life that determine how long it lasts as a treatment for ED. In this guide, we’ll explain how long sildenafil remains active and compare it to several other widely used treatments for erectile dysfunction.

How Long Does Sildenafil Take to Start Working?

The amount of time required for sildenafil to start working can depend on several factors, from the specific response you have to the drug to the amount you’ve eaten before swallowing the tablet.

Most of the time, sildenafil starts to work after approximately 30 minutes. If you’ve taken the right dose for you, you should find it easier to get an erection when aroused than it would typically be without the medicine.

Many people note that Viagra usually starts working faster when taken on an empty stomach, as there’s less chance of an active digestive system slowing down its absorption by the body.

One point to note is that Viagra will not cause an erection on its own without a source of sexual stimulation. However, it will make it easier for most men to develop and sustain an erection after being stimulated.

How Long Does Sildenafil Last?

Just like the amount of time required for sildenafil to start working, the amount of time sildenafil lasts can depend on several factors.

Most men notice the active effects of Viagra for approximately two to three hours. The drug can work for up to five hours in total, although it usually starts to become less effective and "wear off" after three hours.

Can Viagra Produce Permanent Effects?

No. Like all medications, Viagra has an active life and half life. The half life of sildenafil, which is the active ingredient in Viagra, is approximately four hours. This means that the active amount of Viagra in your bloodstream will reduce by approximately half with every four hours.

Beyond a certain point, Viagra will no longer be present in your bloodstream or tissue and it will produce no effects on your body.

Can External Factors Affect Sildenafil?

Yes. External factors, such as your diet or age, can have a significant effect on how well Viagra works and how long it remains active in your body:

  • Your diet can affect the amount of time sildenafil lasts for, as well as the amount of time required for sildenafil to start working. If you eat a large meal before taking the tablet, it can slow down the absorption process and delay the effects of Viagra.
  • Consuming alcohol can also affect sildenafil. Because alcohol has a negative effect on blood flow to the genitals, drinking wine, beer, spirits or other alcoholic beverages can make sildenafil less effective and increase the risk of side effects.
  • Your age can also have an effect on sildenafil’s active life. Older men may find that Viagra remains active for longer than the typical two to three hours, as the liver and metabolic system become less effective at metabolizing the drug over time.

Finally, the dosage of Viagra can affect its active life in the body. Most of the time, taking a high dose of Viagra (for example, an entire 100mg Viagra tablet) will produce a more noticeable and longer-lasting effect than taking a smaller 25mg or 50mg dose.

It’s always important to follow the advice of your doctor regarding dosing for Viagra. If you have been prescribed 25mg of Viagra to treat ED, you should not take a larger dose to intensify or prolong the drug’s effects.

I Took Viagra and It Isn’t Working. What Should I Do?

While Viagra is highly effective at treating erectile dysfunction in most cases, it doesn’t have a 100% success rate. If you’ve taken Viagra and don’t notice any positive effects on your ability to develop and sustain an erection, you should not take more of the drug for a stronger dose.

Instead, contact your doctor and explain the situation to them. They will be able to determine whether you need to make changes to your lifestyle and overall health, adjust your dosage of Viagra or switch to an alternative ED treatment option.

Viagra vs. Other ED Medication

Although Viagra is the most popular medication used to treat ED, it certainly isn’t the only drug in its category. Other common ED drugs include Cialis and Levitra, both of which have similar positive effects to Viagra.

Cialis, which contains tadalafil, lasts for significantly longer than Viagra. Most of the time, one dose of Cialis will take effect within 30 minutes and provide noticeable effects as long as 24 to 36 hours.

Levitra, on the other hand, has a similar half-life to Viagra. Levitra contains vardenafil and can take about 30 minutes to begin working. Once it’s absorbed by the body, its effects usually last for approximately five hours.

This article was reviewed by Ho Anh, MD.

Important Safety Information

IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION

Do not take Sildenafil (sildenafil citrate) if you:

  • take any medicines called nitrates, often prescribed for chest pain, or guanylate cyclase stimulators like Adempas (riociguat) for pulmonary hypertension. Your blood pressure could drop to an unsafe level
  • are allergic to sildenafil, as contained in Sildenafil and REVATIO, or any of the ingredients in Sildenafil

    Discuss your health with your doctor to ensure that you are healthy enough for sex. If you experience chest pain, dizziness, or
nausea during sex, seek immediate medical help

    Sildenafil can cause serious side effects. Rarely reported side effects include:

  • an erection that will not go away (priapism). If you have an erection that lasts more than 4 hours, get medical help right away.
If it is not treated right away, priapism can permanently damage your penis
  • sudden vision loss in one or both eyes. Sudden vision loss in one or both eyes can be a sign of a serious eye problem called
non-arteritic anterior ischemic optic neuropathy (NAION). Stop taking Sildenafil and call your healthcare provider right away if you
have any sudden vision loss
  • sudden hearing decrease or hearing loss. Some people may also have ringing in their ears (tinnitus) or dizziness. If you have
these symptoms, stop taking Sildenafil and contact a doctor right away

    Before you take Sildenafil, tell your healthcare provider if you:

  • have or have had heart problems such as a heart attack,
irregular heartbeat, angina, chest pain, narrowing of the aortic valve, or heart failure
  • have had heart surgery within the last 6 months
  • have pulmonary hypertension
  • have had a stroke
  • have low blood pressure, or high blood pressure that
is not controlled
  • have a deformed penis shape
  • have had an erection that lasted for more than 4 hours
  • have problems with your blood cells such as sickle cell
anemia, multiple myeloma, or leukemia
  • have retinitis pigmentosa, a rare genetic (runs in families)
eye disease
  • have ever had severe vision loss, including an eye problem
called NAION
  • have bleeding problems
  • have or have had stomach ulcers
  • have liver problems
  • have kidney problems or are having kidney dialysis have any other medical conditions

    Tell your healthcare provider about all the medicines you take, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins,
and herbal supplements.

    Sildenafil may affect the way other medicines work, and other medicines may affect the way Sildenafil works, causing side effects.
Especially tell your healthcare provider if you take any of the following:

  • medicines called nitrates
  • medicines called guanylate cyclase stimulators such as Adempas (riociguat)
  • medicines called alpha-blockers such as Hytrin (terazosin
HCl), Flomax (tamsulosin HCl), Cardura (doxazosin
mesylate), Minipress (prazosin HCl), Uroxatral (alfuzosin HCl),
 Jalyn (dutasteride and tamsulosin HCl), or Rapaflo (silodosin).
Alpha-blockers are sometimes prescribed for prostate
problems or high blood pressure. In some patients, the use
of Sildenafil with alpha-blockers can lead to a drop in blood pressure or to fainting
  • medicines called HIV protease inhibitors, such as ritonavir (Norvir), indinavir sulfate (Crixivan), saquinavir (Fortovase or Invirase), or atazanavir sulfate (Reyataz)
  • some types of oral antifungal medicines, such as
 ketoconazole (Nizoral) and itraconazole (Sporanox)
  • some types of antibiotics, such as clarithromycin (Biaxin),
telithromycin (Ketek), or erythromycin
  • other medicines that treat high blood pressure
  • other medicines or treatments for ED
  • Sildenafil contains sildenafil, which is the same medicine found
in another drug called REVATIO. REVATIO is used to treat a
rare disease called pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH).
 Sildenafil should not be used with REVATIO or with other PAH
treatments containing sildenafil or any other PDE5 inhibitors
(such as Adcirca tadalafil)

    Sildenafil does not protect against sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV.

    The most common side effects of Sildenafil: headache; flushing; upset stomach; abnormal vision, such as changes in color vision
(such as having a blue color tinge) and blurred vision; stuffy or runny nose; back pain; muscle pain; nausea; dizziness; rash.

    H2 INDICATION

    Sildenafil (sildenafil citrate) is prescription medicine used to treat erectile dysfunction (ED).

    Sildenafil is not for women or children.