What Are the Side Effects of Viagra?

Dr Simran Deo

Medically reviewed by

Dr Simran Deo

Last reviewed: 08 Oct 2019

Are there any risks to taking Viagra?

Contents
Man checking the side effects of Viagra on his phone and laptop

Viagra is a medication used to treat erectile dysfunction (ED). As with other medications, there are potential side effects and risks.

Most common side effects tend to settle down in the first few weeks of using the drug. And some men find it can help to vary the dose.

If you take Viagra and find that your side effects continue, alternative medications might be more suitable.

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What are common side effects of taking Viagra?

About 1 in 100 men experience common side effects when using Viagra, but they generally do not last long. These side effects include:

  • feeling dizzy or faint
  • headaches
  • facial flushing
  • feeling sick (nausea)
  • stuffy nose
  • blurry vision
  • rash
  • back or muscle pain
  • indigestion

What are the less common side effects of taking Viagra?

There are some less common but serious side effects that about 1 in 1,000 men experience when taking Viagra. If you have any of these side effects, you should stop taking the medication and immediately contact your doctor.

  • fits (seizures)
  • chest pain or an irregular heartbeat
  • sudden vision or hearing loss
  • itchy, swollen, or peeling skin
  • swollen mouth, lips, tongue or face
  • wheezing or tightness in the throat

Can Viagra cause an erection that will not go away?

Very rarely, taking Viagra may cause some men to have an erection that lasts longer than four hours. If this happens, you should go to A&E.

If you have prolonged erections that are painful, you may have a condition known as priapism.

What should you do if you get side effects?

Less serious side effects can often be managed until they stop happening. If you experience any of the more serious side effects mentioned above, you should go to A&E.

Managing common side effects

  • If you experience headaches, drink plenty of water and avoid alcohol
  • If you are dizzy or notice any changes in your vision, do not drive or use machinery. Sit or lie down until you feel better
  • Cutting down on tea, coffee, and alcohol can help with hot flushes

Changing your Viagra dose

Viagra comes in doses of 25mg, 50mg or 100mg, and only one tablet should be taken in 24 hours. The dose can be increased if the initial dose is not effective. The maximum dose that should be taken in 24 hours is 100mg.

Lowering the dose may reduce the side effects, but if side effects continue, always contact your doctor to have them checked out.

Changing your ED medication

There are many forms of erectile dysfunction (ED) medication, and you may find that you do not experience side effects if you switch to an alternative.

What else can you do to avoid side effects?

The most effective way to avoid side effects is to reduce your dose, but avoiding alcohol and grapefruit may also help. Grapefruit and grapefruit juice increase the amount of Viagra in your blood, making it more likely for you to have side effects.

Are there any other risks of taking Viagra?

For most men, it’s safe to take Viagra. But there are risks with taking it if you have certain medical conditions, like:

  • disease at the backs of the eyes (known as non-arteritic anterior ischaemic optic neuropathy)
  • injury or deformity of your penis
  • heart disease
  • unstable angina
  • a recent heart attack or stroke
  • low blood pressure
  • a previous stomach ulcer
  • kidney or liver problems
  • sickle cell anaemia
  • previous bone marrow cancer

Your doctor will talk to you about the risks and benefits of taking Viagra and only prescribe it if it’s safe for you.

Taking Viagra with other medications

You should not take Viagra if you’re also taking certain medicines. You should tell your doctor about all the medicines you are currently taking, especially:

  • enlarged prostate medication
  • angina medication
  • medication for an irregular heartbeat
  • water tablets
  • asthma medication
  • steroids
  • quinine for leg cramps
  • pulmonary hypertension medication
  • blood pressure medication
  • antibiotics
  • antifungal medications
  • antivirals
  • antihistamines
  • antimalarials
  • HIV medication
  • St John's wort
  • blood-thinning medication such as warfarin
  • antipsychotics
  • antidepressant medication
  • chemotherapy/ cancer medication
  • medication for neurological conditions
  • hormone disorder medication
  • any recreational drugs

Alternatives to Viagra

There are alternative medications that can be used to treat erectile dysfunction, but these can also have side effects. Some examples of these medicines are:

Other treatment options for erectile dysfunction include:

  • Lifestyle changes like maintaining a healthy weight, eating a balanced diet, and exercising regularly
  • Pelvic floor exercises which help to build the muscles around the penis and improve blood flow
  • Sex therapy which may help with low-mood and psychological concerns
  • Penile implants and vacuum penis pumps
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Medically reviewed by:
Dr Simran Deo Doctor

Dr Simran Deo qualified from St George’s, University of London in medicine in 2006 with a distinction in her written finals. She went on to specialise in general practice, obtaining the MRCGP certification in 2012. In 2014 she received a merit for the Diploma in Dermatology from Cardiff University.

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Last reviewed: 08 Oct 2019




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