How Long Does it Take Viagra to Work?

Published March 10th, 2021 by Erik Rivera
Fact Checked by
Camille Freking
Medically Reviewed:
Dr. Gerardo Sison
Updated Date: Mar 10th, 2021

Viagra is consistently one of the most popular prescription drugs in the United States each year. Not only is this FDA-approved ED medication incredibly effective, it has also become much more affordable in recent years thanks to the introduction of a generic version to market, sildenafil citrate, the active ingredient in brand name Viagra. Sildenafil can also be used to treat pulmonary arterial hypertension. 

If you or a loved one are experiencing erectile dysfunction, there’s help for your condition available. If you’re wondering how long it takes for Viagra to work, we have everything you need to know about this popular little blue pill.

What is erectile dysfunction and what causes it?

Erectile dysfunction, or male impotence, is a common medical condition that affects more than 30 million men in the United States alone. Erectile dysfunction is a condition that occurs when there is limited blood flow to the penis for physical or psychological reasons, which prevents men from getting and keeping an erection that is hard enough for sex. As embarrassing as the condition can feel, it is actually fairly common because there are so many different factors that can contribute to the condition.

Medical conditions, lifestyle choices, and psychological factors all play a role in the presentation of erectile dysfunction. Physical health conditions such as atherosclerosis (clogged arteries), high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and obesity are among the conditions that contribute the most to erectile dysfunction, and they often occur as a result of an unhealthy lifestyle. 

Alcohol abuse, prescription medications (including those used to treat high blood pressure, heart disease, and depression), smoking, illegal drug use, and even over-the-counter medications such as antihistamines and Sudafed are also known contributors to erectile dysfunction. Managing your lifestyle can be an important first step in helping to improve your erectile dysfunction. Psychological factors such as depression, stress, and anxiety can also play a role in erectile dysfunction.

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How long does it take Viagra to work?

One of the most frequently asked questions about Viagra is how long it takes for the medication to work. Viagra is a relatively fast-acting medication for the treatment of erectile dysfunction, so you’ll notice results about 30 to 60 minutes after taking the medication in most cases. 

However, it may take up to two hours before some men start seeing results from the medication depending on the speed at which their body processed the drug. Other factors, such as the contents of a recent meal, can also impact how quickly Viagra works. 

Eating a high-fat meal with Viagra may slow the absorption of the medication and make it less effective. Men who want their medication to be as effective as possible should avoid fatty foods for several hours before taking Viagra. 

How long does Viagra last?

If the commercials and marketing materials for Viagra are to be believed, the medication will last for up to four hours. 

While some people will experience the effects of Viagra for this period of time, the drug commonly starts to become less effective after about two to three hours. Still, others may experience the desired effects for five hours or more depending on a number of different factors, such as the dosage of the medication.

One thing that won’t change no matter what dose of Viagra you take or how recently you have taken the pill within the four-hour window is the amount of time it takes to achieve an orgasm. 

Also, depending on the recommended dose and the timing of the medication dosage, some men are able to achieve more than one erection with one dose of Viagra. However, this will not be the case for all men.  

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How long does Viagra stay in my system?

Viagra starts to work for most people within about 30 to 60 minutes, but since the medication takes effect quickly, it may also wear off rapidly. 

Taking a standard dose of 25 or 50 mg of Viagra will produce the desired effects for about two to three hours for most people, although some will continue to process the medication for up to six hours at this dose. Higher doses, such as 100 mg, may remain in the body for up to eight hours. 

You should not take more than 100mg of Viagra in a 24-hour period. A number of different factors influence how long Viagra stays in your system.

What factors influence how long Viagra lasts?

How long Viagra will stay in your system to help you achieve an erection depends on a number of different factors. 

The amount of Viagra that you take, your diet, other medications you take, your age, your alcohol intake, your mental health, and your overall health can all impact how the drug will work for you. 

Factors influencing the length of time Viagra lasts vary from person to person but include:

  • Dosage: Doctors recommend that patients take the lowest dose of Viagra possible in order to get and keep an erection. This is because lower doses of the drug are easier for the body to metabolize and eliminate, which reduces your risk of experiencing serious side effects associated with the medication like painful erection, priapism, or heart problems. Therefore, lower dosages of Viagra, such as 25 mg doses, may leave the body more quickly than a 100 mg dose. Your doctor will recommend the right dose of Viagra for you based on your medical history, age, and weight.
  • Diet: As previously established, eating a meal that is high in fat shortly before taking Viagra can cause the drug to take longer to kick in. However, because the body takes longer to process the medication when it is consumed with fat, it also takes longer for the body to eliminate the drug, meaning it will last longer. This is also why Viagra should either be taken on an empty stomach one hour before sexual activity or two hours after a heavy meal.
  • Medications: Some medications can influence the amount of time that Viagra stays in the body. Antibiotics such as clarithromycin, erythromycin, and ciprofloxacin can slow the rate at which Viagra is eliminated from the body, while other drugs make the medication stay in the body for longer. Other drugs can cause dangerous interactions when taken with Viagra. These medications include nitrates taken for chest pain (angina), which can cause dangerously low blood pressure levels. Consult a healthcare provider for other possible drug-drug interactions with Viagra.
  • Age: Older men process Viagra more slowly, which means it will stay in the body for longer. As a result, men over the age of 65 are usually prescribed a lower dose of Viagra and experience the effects of the medication for longer than younger men.
  • Heavy alcohol intake: Men who regularly consume large amounts of alcohol may notice a difference in how Viagra works in their bodies. Chronic alcohol use may decrease the amount of blood flow to the penis, which may cause the medication to be less effective. However, alcohol in moderation is generally safe while taking Viagra.
  • Psychological state: Mental health plays a role in your ability to get and keep an erection. Feelings of anxiety, stress, or depression can impact the effectiveness of Viagra. Therefore, men who experience these feelings may not experience the full effects of Viagra. 
  • Overall health: There are many different medical conditions that can impact your erectile dysfunction. Diabetes, multiple sclerosis, atherosclerosis and other heart conditions can contribute to or cause erectile dysfunction, and these conditions can also impact the effectiveness of Viagra. These health conditions can also increase the rate at which the body eliminates Viagra. Kidney disease, poor kidney function, liver disease, and poor liver function can also extend the life cycle of the drug by slowing the rate at which it is metabolized.  

Summary

Viagra works relatively quickly to help men achieve an erection; most men can expect Viagra to start working within 30 to 60 minutes of taking the medication. 

Men who consume a meal with a high-fat content less than two to three hours before taking their medication may find that the drug takes longer to work and may have a reduced effectiveness. 

Viagra is only available with a prescription, but you can purchase it at any local pharmacy if you have a prescription. 

Men who need to speak to a doctor in order to obtain a prescription for Viagra can use online telehealth services like Hims, Huge, BlueChew, and HealthyMale to connect virtually with a licensed healthcare provider in their state. A healthcare provider can perform a consultation and determine if a prescription like Viagra is appropriate. 

Sources:
https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a699015.html 
https://www.webmd.com/drugs/2/drug-7418/Viagra-oral/details 
https://www.healthline.com/health/Viagra-oral-tablet 
https://www.healthline.com/health/erectile-dysfunction/how-long-does-viagra-last

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