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Recreational Viagra and ED Drug Use: Is It Dangerous?

If you struggle with erectile dysfunction, medications like Viagra® (or its generic, sildenafil, generic Viagra) may help you to improve your erections and sexual performance. 

As is true for any type of prescription medication, ED treatments like Viagra come with risks for side effects and interactions with other drugs. As such, they’re not something that you’ll want to use irresponsibly. 

Despite this, some people take Viagra and other ED medications recreationally, either as a way to improve their sexual performance or for other purported benefits. 

While Viagra is safe for most men, using it without a prescription isn’t recommended. Doing so may expose you to side effects and potentially dangerous interactions, especially when Viagra is used with alcohol. 

Below, we’ve discussed how Viagra and similar erectile dysfunction medications work, as well as the most common reasons they’re used.

We’ve also discussed why it’s best not to use Viagra or other ED medications for recreational purposes. 

Finally, we’ve explained what you can do if you have ED and want to use Viagra or a similar medication legally.

How Do Erectile Dysfunction Drugs Work?

Erectile dysfunction medications like Viagra work by relaxing your blood vessels and increasing blood flow to the corpora cavernosa -- a pair of sponge-like areas of erectile tissue on the inside of your penis.

When you’re sexually aroused, blood flows into your penis to create an erection. By making it easier for blood to flow into this tissue, ED medications like Viagra can improve your erections and reduce your risk of losing your erection during sex. 

From a more technical perspective, medications like Viagra work by inhibiting the effects of an enzyme called phosphodiesterase type 5, or PDE5, which helps to regulate blood flow to your penis and other areas of your body.

We’ve talked more about the mechanism of action of this type of medication in our full guide to PDE5 inhibitors.  

It takes approximately 60 minutes for sildenafil, the active ingredient in Viagra, to start working as an ED treatment. Once it’s in your body, it remains effective for around four hours.

Although Viagra is the best-known medication for erectile dysfunction, several other medications are also used to treat ED: 

  • Cialis®. This medication, which contains the active ingredient tadalafil, is a long-lasting treatment for ED that works for up to 36 hours per dose.
  • Levitra®. This medication, which contains the active ingredient vardenafil, typically lasts for slightly longer than Viagra.
  • Stendra®. This new ED medication, which contains the active ingredient avanafil, has a more selective mechanism of action and is less likely to cause certain side effects. 

Many of these medications are available in several dosages, allowing your healthcare provider to tailor your dosage based on the severity of your ED and other factors.

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.