What Does Viagra Do to Your Sexual Experience?

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Medically reviewed by Ho Anh, MD Written by Our Editorial Team Last updated 4/27/2018

Since it came onto the market in the late 90s, Viagra (or Sildenafil, as it’s known generically) has grown from a niche medicine into an ED treatment used by millions of men around the world.

One of the most common Viagra-related questions, particularly from younger men interested in using Viagra, is how Viagra affects sexual experience. Does it change the way sex feels or have any impact on sexual enjoyment or performance?

In this guide, we’ll explain the basics of how drugs like Viagra work, as well as how they change the experience of having sex. We’ll also bust some of the common myths about Viagra to make it clear what the drug can and can’t do for your erections and sexual performance.

How Viagra Affects Your Erection

The mechanism behind Viagra (as well as other ED medicines, like Cialis and Levitra) is fairly simple once you understand it.

Viagra is a PDE5 inhibitor, meaning it inhibits the specific enzyme that regulates blood flow to the soft tissue of the penis. When you take Viagra, the blood vessels bringing blood to and around your penis dilate, letting more blood flow into the penis and making it easier to get an erection.

There’s no “magic” to Viagra, and contrary to popular belief, it won’t make you spontaneously get an erection unless you’re sexually aroused physically or mentally. Instead, Viagra simply makes it easier for your body to develop and maintain an erection by improving blood flow to the tissue of the penis.

Does Viagra Change Your Sexual Experience?

If you have erectile dysfunction (ED) and take Viagra before sex, it’s likely that you’ll have a significantly improved sexual experience. This is because even a relatively modest dose of Viagra makes it far easier for you to get and keep an erection during sex.

However, it’s important to separate the realities of Viagra (and other ED medicines, such as Cialis and Levitra) from the myths that have popped up over the years. Below, we’ve listed a variety of popular Viagra myths and provided some scientific evidence to bust each of them.

Does Viagra Make You Last Longer in Bed?

This question is tough to answer with a simple yes or no, since it depends on a variety of factors that can affect your sexual performance.

First, there’s no scientific evidence linking Viagra with slower time to ejaculation. This means that taking Viagra won’t necessarily make you last longer before having an orgasm, although it could improve your general sexual confidence and help you perform better.

With this said, there are some studies that suggest Viagra could be a potential treatment option for men that suffer from premature ejaculation. A 2007 study noted that Viagra is “effective and safe” for treating PE, while another showed promise but didn’t have conclusive results.

In general, it’s best not to think of Viagra as something that can help you delay ejaculation while having sex.

However, if you frequently lose your erection during sex, Viagra will likely have a positive effect on the amount of time you can last. Viagra makes it easier to develop and sustain an erection, meaning you’re less likely to lose your erection during sex due to anxiety or poor stimulation.

In short, the answer to this question is both “yes” and “no,” depending on circumstances. While Viagra isn’t linked to delayed ejaculation and probably won’t make you last longer in the sense most people think of, it can potentially improve your general sexual performance.

Does Taking Viagra Immediately Result in an Erection?

This is another common Viagra myth -- that taking Viagra will result in you immediately getting an instantaneous, uncontrollable erection.

The reality of Viagra is quite different. Viagra does not directly cause you to get an erection or provide any kind of sexual stimulation on its own. Instead, all it does is inhibit the enzyme that regulates blood flow to the penis, making it easier to get an erection if and when you want to.

Without any type of sexual stimulation (whether visual, physical or psychological), you will not develop an erection after taking Viagra. The arousal process is still the same as normal -- you will just find it easier to get an erection when you’re in the right mood.

Does Viagra Help You Recover Faster After Orgasm?

Another common belief about Viagra is that it can reduce the refractory period -- the amount of time required for a man to recover after having sex and reaching orgasm.

In this case, the common belief about Viagra is true. Scientific studies generally show that ED medications such as Viagra decrease the amount of time needed to recover after sex, often by quite a significant amount.

For example, a 2000 study into Viagra’s effect on post-ejaculatory refractory time found that a 100mg dose of sildenafil (the active ingredient in Viagra) reduced the average recovery time from 10.8 +/- 0.9 minutes to 2.6 +/- 0.7 minutes.

Does Viagra Affect Your Sex Drive?

Viagra is designed to improve your physical performance during sex -- that is, your ability to get and maintain an erection. However, it isn’t linked to any increase in your level of sexual interest or sex drive in general.

For the most part, the male sex drive is driven by hormones, ranging from adrenal hormones such as DHEA to male sex hormones like testosterone. Since Viagra is a non-hormonal drug, it’s unlikely to interfere with the hormonal side of your sex drive.

Instead, Viagra simply makes it easier to improve your sexual performance when you already feel motivated to have sex. The current scientific studies don’t show any link between Viagra and sex drive or general level of interest in sexual activity.

Does Viagra Change The Way Sex Feels?

Although Viagra makes it easier to develop and keep an erection, it doesn’t appear to have any effect on the way sex feels. Taking Viagra won’t make you feel more stimulated sexually, nor will it have any positive or negative impact on the level of sensation you feel during sex.

With this said, if you suffer from ED, using Viagra can produce a noticeable improvement in the general level of enjoyment you get from sex due to improved performance. However, it doesn’t have any confirmed effects on the actual feeling of sex or your level of sexual motivation.

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.