Sildenafil Citrate, or Viagra as it is more widely known, is not the only erectile dysfunction drug in the market.
But it has become the most associated with the condition and is virtually the first and last word in its treatment.
As with any medication, one should first be aware of what it is they will be taking into their body.
Beyond common questions as to how long does Sildenafil last and how well does it work, other concerns should include whether it’s safe and what effect it has, both good and bad, on your health.
What Are the Causes of Erectile Dysfunction?
Erectile dysfunction mainly occurs in males over the age of 40. The condition has also been linked to hypertension and diabetes mellitus. Lifestyle factors such as obesity, a lack or total absence of physical activity, and lower urinary tract symptoms can also lead to the occurrence of erectile dysfunction. (1)
There have also been cases of erectile dysfunction occurring in men below 40 years of age. Psychogenic causes for its onset include anxiety, depression, and partner-related difficulties. Organic causes include endocrinologic, iatrogenic, neurogenic, vasculogenic, and structural components. (2)
Studies have been made on the correlation of erectile dysfunction to cardiovascular disease, as the condition is a reliable indicator of coronary artery disease.
Thus, even erectile dysfunction patients not suffering from apparent heart ailments are recommended to undergo a cardiovascular assessment to be certain.
Several oral therapies for erectile dysfunction treatment have been successfully developed, particularly the phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitors. (2)
What Is Sildenafil and How Does It Work?
Sildenafil is a form of oral therapy intended for the treatment of a wide variety of erectile dysfunction.
It enables the relaxation of the penis’ smooth muscles, the corpus cavernosum in particular, through the selective inhibition of phosphodiesterase type 5, thereby causing heightened penile erection during sexual stimulation.
The medication is absorbed rapidly within 1 hour after it is administered. (3)
How Much Sildenafil Should Be Taken?
The standard recommended dosage of Sildenafil is 50 mg, to be taken up to 4 hours before sexual intercourse, and no more than once per day. (4) The maximum recommended dose is 100 mg.
For older patients, as well as those who are suffering from a renal or hepatic impairment, lower doses from 20 to 25 mg are recommended.
Lower doses are also recommended for those who are taking cytochrome P450 enzyme CYP3A4 inhibitors, including cimetidine, erythromycin, ketoconazole, ritonavir, and saquinavir. (3)
How Long Does Sildenafil Last?
Sildenafil starts to take effect within 30 minutes to an hour after it is taken. Preliminary studies have indicated that its efficacy can last for 5 hours.
However, more recent findings point out that the effects of the drug can differ from person to person.
In a study conducted among 16 males within the age range of 36 to 68 years, erections were observed to occur within the periods of 1, 8 and 12 hours after the administration of Sildenafil.
Hence the data suggests that the medication’s effects can last up to a maximum of 12 hours. (5)
Does Sildenafil Have Negative Side Effects?
Specific side effects linked to Sildenafil were observed to be temporary and only moderate. Nonetheless, these include abnormal vision, dyspepsia, flushing, mild headache, and nasal congestion.
While Sildenafil does cause temporary reduction of blood pressure, the simultaneous administration of the medication combined with organic nitrates may also result in patent hypotension. (3)
Is Sildenafil More Effective Than Other Erectile Dysfunction Treatments?
In a review of various phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitors, Sildenafil was found to have the highest efficacy at 50 mg, but also had the highest overall rate of unpleasant side effects.
In comparison, 10 mg of Vardenafil and 100 mg of Avanafil had similar rates of harmful impacts to Sildenafil, but their efficacy was much lower.
10 mg of Tadalafil had only an intermediate level of effectiveness but had the lowest rate of overall adverse effects. Udenafil, at 100 mg, shares similar efficacy with Tadalafil, but its overall rate of adverse event was higher. (6)
Does Sildenafil Have Positive Health Benefits?
While phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitors are mainly used for the treatment of erectile dysfunction, they are also found to have applications in cardiology, dermatology, gynecology, nephrology, oncology, and urology.
Sildenafil treatment, in particular, has yielded positive effects on the functioning of the immune system. The drug has promoted angiogenesis or the formation of new blood vessels, platelet activation, T cell proliferation, and the manufacture of autoantibodies and proinflammatory cytokines. (7)
The Bottom Line
In this article, we have covered various concerns regarding Sildenafil as an erectile dysfunction drug.
The recommended dosage is given at 50 mg minimum and 100 mg maximum, with lower doses of 20 to 25 mg for elderly patients and those with renal and hepatic complications.
With regards to the question of how long does Sildenafil last, it maintains effectiveness for a maximum of 12 hours, which is not to say that a person who takes Sildenafil will have an erection for several hours straight.
It merely indicates that the medication would enable one to maintain an erection for a particular duration of time. A Sildenafil-assisted erection lasts typically for an average period of half an hour.
Although Sildenafil comes with specific adverse events such as headache, indigestion, and irregular vision, these symptoms are only mild and temporary. Those who suffer from hepatic and renal problems should proceed with caution.
Certain medications taken in combination with Sildenafil may prove hazardous. It is advised to carefully read the label and consult with a doctor regarding other potential adverse effects and risks.
Out of 5 erectile dysfunction treatments, Sildenafil comes up on top with the highest rate of efficacy. In spite of its high rate of adverse events, most patients would be willing to overlook that in favor of how effectively it treats their condition.
Sildenafil has also been found to have beneficial immunomodulatory effects.
It should be noted, though, that despite these apparent health benefits, Sildenafil is still meant primarily to treat erectile dysfunction. It is hence not advised to take it as medication for any other form of ailment or condition.