How Long Does Sildenafil Last? Duration and Effects

Published February 6th, 2021 by Chris Riley
Fact Checked by
Camille Freking
Medically Reviewed:
Gerardo Sison
Updated Date: Jun 14th, 2022

An estimated 30 million men across the United States suffer from erectile dysfunction, also known as male impotence.

Despite the fact that the condition is extremely common, many men suffering from erectile dysfunction feel embarrassed and ashamed about the difficulties they experience.

As a result, it is common for men to put off a visit to the doctor’s office or decline to speak to a healthcare professional about sexual stimulation concerns. 

Sildenafil, the generic form of Pfizer's Viagra, is a prescription medication that can be an effective option for the treatment of erectile dysfunction, but the cost and inconvenience of a doctor’s visit can discourage some men from seeking medical advice.

Recognizing these obstacles, online telehealth companies are now making it possible to obtain a prescription for sildenafil without a trip to the doctor’s office.

If you’re planning to consult with a doctor about sildenafil, you might be curious to know how long does sildenafil last? 

What is erectile dysfunction and what causes it?

Erectile dysfunction is a common medical condition that can affect men of any age.

Sometimes called male impotence, erectile dysfunction limits the blood flow to the penis, causing men to be unable to get an erection or keep an erection that is hard enough to engage in sex. 

There are many different factors that can contribute to erectile dysfunction, but some of the most common are physical health conditions that are strongly linked to an unhealthy lifestyle, including: atherosclerosis (clogged arteries), high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and obesity. 

Other lifestyle factors, such as smoking, alcohol abuse, illegal drug use, side effects of other prescription medications (including those used to treat high blood pressure, heart disease, and depression), and side effects of over-the-counter medications such as antihistamines and Sudafed can also contribute to erectile dysfunction, even in men who do not have any other risk factors for the condition.

Psychological health is also strongly linked to erectile dysfunction, as stress, anxiety, and depression can all make the condition more likely to occur. 

How does sildenafil work to treat erectile dysfunction?

Sildenafil citrate belongs to a class of medications called phosphodiesterase-5 (PDE-5) inhibitors, and interestingly enough started as the active ingredient for an anti-angina (chest pain) medication.

PDE-5 inhibitors prevent the action of an enzyme called PDE-5, which breaks down a chemical called cGMP, which contributes to the end of an erection.

During the first part of an erection, cGMP causes the tissues and muscles of the penis to relax, allowing blood to enter the shaft of the penis.

Blood then becomes trapped as a result of the relaxation of the muscles, causing an erection to occur. 

The body then directs PDE-5 to start breaking down the cGMP, which causes blood to flow out of the blood vessels of the penis and end the erection.

In some men, the end of the erection occurs prematurely or the erection doesn’t happen at all; these men are said to experience erectile dysfunction.

PDE-5 inhibitors like sildenafil prevent PDE-5 from breaking down the cGMP, which helps to keep the muscles and tissues of the penis relaxed.

As a result, blood stays trapped in the penis, keeping it erect

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How long does it take for sildenafil to start working?

Sildenafil is a fast-acting drug compared to some types of prescriptions, but it does not work as quickly as some other erectile dysfunction medications.

The recommended dose is taken as-needed prior to sexual intercourse, but the drug doesn’t work right away.

Some other erectile dysfunction medications, like Cialis (tadalafil), work more slowly than sildenafil, while others, like Levitra (vardenafil) and Spedra (avanafil), work more quickly.

Sildenafil is taken on an as-needed basis in advance of anticipated sexual activity, so knowing how long it takes for sildenafil to take effect is important.

While most men will notice the effects of sildenafil in 30 to 60 minutes, others may not feel the full effects of the drug for up to two hours.  

While age and health do play a role in how quickly your body processes sildenafil, other factors, including recent consumption of a high fat meal, can also impact the amount of time it takes sildenafil to take effect.

Taking the medication with or in close proximity to a high fat meal causes the body to metabolize sildenafil more slowly and can also make the medication less effective.

If you’re worried about receiving the maximum effectiveness of your medication as quickly as possible, avoiding eating fatty foods like steak, burgers, and lasagna for several hours before you take your pill.

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How long does sildenafil last?

Just as the amount of time it takes to experience the effects of sildenafil varies from person to person, the length of time that sildenafil lasts will also vary. 

Sildenafil is widely marketed as working for up to four hours with a half life of three to five hours, but most men find that the effects of the medication last for closer to two to three hours. 

Some people process sildenafil more slowly and may feel the effects of the drug for up to six hours depending on the dosage of the medication that is taken.

The marketing materials and literature indicate that sildenafil lasts for up to four hours. 

One thing that is not affected by when you took sildenafil or what dose of the medication you take is the amount of time it will take to achieve an orgasm.

Some people may be able to achieve more than one erection from a single dose of sildenafil depending on the amount of time they need to rest after ejaculation, but it should not be a painful erection or a case of priapism. 

How long does sildenafil stay in my system?

Sildenafil starts working within 30 to 60 minutes for most people, but the drug doesn’t last very long.

Most people stop experiencing the effects of a 20 or 40 mg dose within two to three hours, although some people may take up to six hours to fully metabolize the medication, depending on their age and health. 

Higher doses of sildenafil, such as 80 mg or 100 mg, last longer in the body and may take up to eight hours to be fully metabolized.

  There are several different factors that are known to influence how long sildenafil stays in your body such as whether or not it was taken on an empty stomach. 

Where can I purchase sildenafil at a discount?

Sildenafil is a popular medication, but even though it is a generic drug, it can still be cost prohibitive for some people.

Further, the need for a prescription requires a visit to the doctor, and the cost of a copay is also out of reach for some men.

Recognizing the need for discounted medication and a way to consult with a physician virtually, several different men’s telehealth companies have formed. 

These companies, including Hims, Huge, BlueChew, and HealthyMale,  all offer free virtual consultations with a licensed healthcare professional in your state who will review your medical history, discuss your symptoms, provide a diagnosis, and recommend treatment options, which may include sildenafil, depending on your medical history.

Especially since sildenafil is not recommended for those taking nitrates for heart problems, these consults are particularly important. 

Subscriptions are available for automatic monthly deliveries through some websites, while others deliver the medications on an as-needed basis.

There are plenty of options for medication doses and quantities, which help make the drug more affordable. 

When purchasing sildenafil, make sure that you only purchase the drug from a pharmacy licensed in the U.S. Sildenafil and its brand name form, Viagra, are among the most commonly counterfeited medications in the world due to their popularity and cost. 

Counterfeit medications are ineffective at best and potentially dangerous at worst, so it’s important not to go for the cheapest price you see if you cannot confirm the reputability of the pharmacy.

Additionally, any website that promises to sell you sildenafil without a prescription is almost certainly selling counterfeit medication, as the drug requires a prescription due to its potential to cause serious side effects.


Sildenafil is a relatively fast-acting medication that works quickly, taking effect in 30 to 60 minutes for most men.

The drug provides full effects for most men for two to three hours before the effects of the drug start to dissipate, but some men may notice effects for six to eight hours or longer depending on their age or health. 

Consumption of fatty foods shortly before taking the medication can cause absorption to be slower, but they can also cause the drug to stay in your body for longer.

Sildenafil is available by prescription only, but that doesn’t mean that you need to visit your doctor in-person to get a prescription. 

Men’s wellness telehealth services such as Hims, Huge, BlueChew, and HealthyMale allow men to connect to a licensed healthcare provider in their state virtually and receive a free consultation that can determine if a prescription like sildenafil is appropriate for them.

Men who already have a prescription for sildenafil can still save money by shopping on these sites instead of visiting a brick and mortar pharmacy. 


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