Daily Health

How long does Viagra last?

How long does Viagra last? It turns out the answer is a little more complicated than you might think. That’s because the answer really does depend on what you mean.

Are we talking about how long ahead of time you’ll need to take it, if you’re going to be having sex, how long it stays active in your system, or just how long you can expect erections to last when taking ED medication?

We’ll cover all of this in due course. But to understand why all of this matters, let’s look a little closer at how ED medications like Viagra work. 

First of all, what actually is Viagra?

Viagra, the brand name for the drug sildenafil, belongs to a group of medications known as PDEe5 inhibitors which are used to treat erectile dysfunction (although, fun fact,  they were first developed with cardiovascular conditions in mind).

And what is a PDE5 inhibitor, you ask? It’s a medication that  can improve blood flow to certain tissues, including the penis.

So how does Viagra work?

Viagra, and other PDE5 inhibitors work in broadly the same way. They block something called cGMP-specific phosphodiesterase type 5, (or PDE5 for short).

This matters because it’s an enzyme responsible for regulating blood flow to the penis, as well as other parts of the body. 

So, it makes sense then, that by inhibiting this PDE5 enzyme, Viagra is able to increase blood flow to the penis. 

This in turn means this group of medications can help you get and keep an erection when you are sexually aroused.

In many cases Viagra, and other PDE5 inhibitors, can be effective. An analysis of the pooled results of 11 different studies found that sildenafil (the active ingredient in Viagra), was effective for a broad range of people who experience ED.

How long does it take for Viagra to work?

So how long does it take to work? That depends on what you mean by ‘work’.

If you mean for it to be active in your body, then Viagra can take between 30 and 60 minutes to take effect.

If by ‘work’ you mean ‘get an erection’, there’s something else to consider: your own level or sexual arousal. 

This last point sometimes gets overlooked when it comes to Viagra and other ED medication. Keep in mind that you do still need to be sexually aroused in order to get an erection. So the length of time it takes to work, will depend on your situation. 

How long does Viagra stay in your system?

How long does Viagra last? You can take Viagra up to four hours before you plan to have sex, and achieves peak levels at between 30-120 minutes

This doesn’t mean that when you take Viagra, you will then have an erection for four hours.

Viagra and other ED meds don’t cause erections, they can just make it easier for you to get and maintain an erection. 

Viagra and other PDE5 inhibitors work to help increase blood flow to the penis. 

So essentially Viagra will have this effect over a period of hours. However whether, or when you get an erection also depends on your level of sexual arousal. 

The effects will also depend on dosage

Viagra comes in 25mg, 50mg, and 100mg doses. Most people usually start out on the 50mg dose.  A higher dosage may mean the effects last for longer. However this is no reason to seek out a higher dosage.  You should only take the dosage advised by your doctor. 

It also varies from person to person

There are a lot of different factors that will influence the impact Viagra has. Age, diet, health and psychological state can all play a part.

With older people it may take longer for Viagra to be eliminated from your body, meaning that the effects could last longer.

When it comes to your diet, what you eat can play a role, even on the day. You should take Viagra without food and on an empty stomach. The food (especially fat) can cause slow absorption time, as well as potentially less of the medicine being absorbed in the first place. 

Does Viagra make you last longer?

But when wondering how long Viagra lasts, keep in mind one thing it won’t do is make you last longer

One of the reasons medications like Viagra can be associated with lasting longer is that there are some studies suggesting a potential impact on premature ejaculation. 

Research published in the International Journal of Urology concluded  “effective and safe” for treating PE, but other research has been less conclusive.

A 2005 study found that Viagra did not increase the amount of time to ejaculation. What the drug did seem to do, however, was increase confidence and the perception of control.

Viagra and recovery time after sex

The aspect to consider when asking how long viagra will last, is recovery time after you orgasm.

If Viagra can be active in your system potentially over a period of hours does this mean you will potentially be able to have sex more than once while the medication is active? It’s possible. 

There is some evidence that suggests Viagra can help improve your refractory period (the technical term for time it takes to recover after an orgasm). 

Potential risks and considerations when taking Viagra. 

Keep in mind that there is such a thing as Viagra lasting too long.

Priapism, a long painful erection lasting more than three hours can be a side effect of Viagra. Priapism is a rare but serious condition. If you experience this please go to the emergency department as soon as possible.


Medically reviewed by
Dr. Kelly Anderson
Family Physician, MD, CCFP(EM)
Disclaimer

The views expressed here are those of the author and, as with the rest of the content on Active Ingredients, are not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any medical questions or concerns, please talk to your healthcare provider.

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