Our Men's Health Blog

What is Sildenafil and How Does it Work?

Posted by MediSuite Team on Jun 30, 2020 11:15:00 AM
MediSuite Team

Thanks to advances in medicine, men who have symptoms of erectile dysfunction (ED) have multiple treatment options. Medications, such as sildenafil, are a popular and effective way to treat ED. Sildenafil first came on the market in 1998, and it has become one of the most commonly prescribed medications for ED.


What Is Sildenafil?

Sildenafil is the active ingredient in the popular medication Viagra and is primarily used to treat erectile dysfunction in men. It can also be used to treat pulmonary arterial hypertension, high blood pressure that affects arteries in the heart or lungs.

Why Was Sildenafil Created?

Sildenafil was originally developed by the pharmaceutical company, Pfizer, to treat hypertension and angina pectoris, or chest pain. During clinical trials, researchers discovered that the medication induced erections more effectively than it relieved patients’ heart pain. Even though Pfizer didn’t get their intended results, their research led to what doctors now commonly prescribe as Viagra.

How Does Sildenafil Work?

Many people do not know the details of how Viagra/Sildenafil works. This medication will not automatically cause an erection. The user will need to be sexually aroused in order for Sildenafil to function properly. Sildenafil is a phosphodiesterase type 5 (PDE-5) inhibitor, which works by blocking the enzyme (PDE-5) in your body from breaking down a compound called cGMP. The accumulation of cGMP is what relaxes the smooth muscles that are found in the penis, allowing blood to flow in more easily and resulting in an erection.

Continue Reading: How Do Tadalafil (Cialis) & Sildenafil (Viagra) Work?

How Is Sildenafil Taken?

Sildenafil, available in 20mg, 50mg, or 100mg, is taken orally in pill form. While it is taken on an “as-needed” basis when treating ED and not routinely like other medications, it should only be taken as prescribed by a doctor.

How Quickly Does Sildenafil Work?

Sildenafil typically begins working within 30-60 minutes - depending on how much a person has eaten beforehand. Sildenafil works best when taken on an empty stomach because this allows the body to absorb the medication faster and more fully so that the maximum effects can be utilized. Taking it after a meal high in fat can slow the process. Men planning or anticipating sexual activity should consider these factors when taking the medication.

How Long Does Sildenafil Last?

This medication can remain active in the bloodstream for up to 4-6 hours, but anyone experiencing an erection longer than 4 hours -- especially if it’s painful -- should immediately contact their doctor.

What Should People Know Before Taking Sildenafil?

Sildenafil requires a prescription from your doctor, who will review your medical history to make sure that it is safe for you to take. For example, men with health concerns such as cardiovascular problems should be cautious. Sildenafil interacts with medications such as nitroglycerin, isosorbide dinitrate, and isosorbide mononitrate that treat certain heart conditions, as well as various other medications used to treat high blood pressure. Combining Sildenafil with any nitrate (prescribed nor illicit) can cause a dramatic drop in blood pressure that can be dangerous. Additionally, Sildenafil and Tadalafil should not be taken together, as it reduces success and increases the risk for side effects.

What Are The Side Effects of Sildenafil?

No medication comes without potential side effects, but fortunately, most of Sildenafil’s are mild. The more common ones men may experience include:

  • Muscle aches and pains
  • Bloody nose
  • Diarrhea
  • Dizziness
  • Difficulty breathing

In some cases, men can experience less common but more severe side effects, which demand immediate medical attention. These include:

  • An erection lasting longer than 4 hours
  • Sudden loss of vision (or Non-Arteritic Anterior Ischemic Optic Neuropathy, which happens when blood flow is blocked to the optic nerve)
  • Sudden loss of hearing
  • Chest pain or pressure, irregular heartbeat
  • Swelling in hands, ankles, or feet

How Do I Get Sildenafil from MediSuite?

Your doctor can submit your prescription to MediSuite via eScript or fax. If you are unable to see a doctor in person, we have a telemedicine option on our website. Once we receive your prescription, our pharmacy staff will call you to confirm your shipping and billing information, then you will receive your medication by mail in 2-4 business days. Refills can be ordered online or over the phone.

If Sildenafil sounds like a viable option, speak with your physician to discuss details, and determine the correct dosage for you.

Understanding ED Options:  Cialis and Viagra


Topics: Sildenafil, Generic Viagra

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