Sildenafil citrate (popularly known by its brand name Viagra), is an FDA-approved medication primarily used in the treatment of erectile dysfunction (ED) in men. Sildenafil is in the class of drugs called phosphodiesterase type 5 (PDE5) inhibitors. It also has applications in treating pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) under the brand name Revatio.
Sildenafil works by inhibiting the PDE5 enzyme, which is responsible for breaking down a substance called cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cGMP) in the smooth muscle cells lining the blood vessels of the penis. As a result, the blood vessels dilate, and blood flow to the penis increases, leading to firmer and longer-lasting erections during sexual stimulation.
Onset and Duration
Sildenafil needs to be taken approximately 30 minutes to an hour before engaging in sexual activity. Its peak effect usually occurs within 30 to 120 minutes of ingestion, and the ability to improve erectile function during sexual stimulation can last for up to 4 to 5 hours.
Sildenafil is available in doses of 25mg, 50mg, and 100mg. The recommended starting dose for most men is 50mg, taken as needed. However, the dose may be increased to 100mg or decreased to 25mg depending on individual tolerance and effectiveness. It’s essential to follow a healthcare provider’s prescription instructions and not take more than one dose of Sildenafil within a 24-hour period.
While Sildenafil is generally safe and well-tolerated, some men may experience side effects. Common mild side effects include headache, facial flushing, indigestion, dizziness, and nasal congestion. These side effects are usually temporary and tend to subside as the medication’s effects wear off.
Less common but more severe side effects may occur, such as sudden vision or hearing loss, chest pain, or priapism (an erection lasting more than 4 hours). In such cases, immediate medical attention should be sought urgently.
Sildenafil may interact with other medications, potentially causing adverse effects or decreasing its effectiveness. Notable interactions include nitrates (used for chest pain or angina), alpha-blockers (used for high blood pressure or prostate issues), and certain antifungal or HIV medications. It is important to inform a healthcare provider of all medications and supplements being taken to avoid potential complications.
Sildenafil may not be suitable for everyone, especially men with a history of heart disease, stroke, liver or kidney problems, or other underlying health issues. A healthcare professional should always be consulted to identify potential risks and ascertain if Sildenafil is an appropriate treatment.