How Much Time Do I Have?

How Fast Does Viagra® Work And How Long Does it Last?

Image Credit: Marcus Spiske/Unsplash 

Disclaimer: Your healthcare provider is the best source of health and medical information. Articles written by UPGUYS are informed by peer-reviewed studies and research, as well as governmental health authorities and agencies—but they cannot replace advice from a healthcare professional. Talk to your healthcare provider about any physical or mental health concerns you might have. 

It’s all about timing, they say. Relationships, hitting a curveball, running a yellow-light—it all comes down to the delicate balance between too soon and too late. 

The same concept applies to using erectile dysfunction medication like sildenafil, more commonly known by its brand name Viagra®. In order to get the best results from this proven effective drug, it’s important to know the amount of time needed for it to take effect, and how long it lasts. 

How it works

Sildenafil relaxes blood vessels and increases blood flow to the penis and improves the chances of achieving an erection when used in conjunction with sexual stimulation. The increase in blood flow allows more blood to enter the corpus cavernosa—two columns of spongy tissue that make up the shaft of the penis. 

How fast does it start working? 

The amount of time for sildenafil to take effect varies and can depend on several factors (see below). Normally, it takes 30-60 minutes to produce a noticeable effect. But remember, sildenafil won’t work without sexual stimulation and achieving an erection requires more than just blood flow. 

How long does it last? 

Most men can expect sildenafil to be effective for 2-3 hours before results start to diminish—although, it can last up to 5 hours. Men may be able to achieve more than one erection during this time, depending on how your body metabolizes the drug, the dose you’ve taken, and other external factors. 

Don’t expect to be able to achieve another erection immediately after sex though. The refractory period—the time after orgasm when the body recovers from sex—is still in play. An individual’s refractory period will vary depending on things like age, external stimulation, and overall health.  

What are the “factors”? 

While 30-60 minutes to take effect, and 2-3 hours of lasting effects are considered the usual, something like achieving an erection, which requires a combination of physiological, psychological and emotional factors, will be affected by several variables. 

  • Dosage – Sildenafil is available in a range of dosages from 50-100 mg. As you would expect, the amount of medication in your bloodstream will have an impact on how long it stays there. A doctor or pharmacist will be able to assess your particular needs to determine which dosage is right for you. 
  • Food – Given the need for your body to metabolize sildenafil, eating a large meal before using Viagra can slow down the absorption of the drug into your bloodstream. Conversely, the slowdown could make the effects last longer. 
  • Alcohol – Consuming 8 or more alcoholic beverages per week has been shown to have negative impacts on erectile function. Alcohol can decrease blood flow to the penis, making it harder to achieve and maintain an erection. 
  • Age – Our bodies metabolize food and drugs slower as we age. Much like the effect food has on metabolizing sildenafil, older men may find it takes longer to realize the effects of sildenafil in the first place, but they may persist for longer. 
  • Cardiovascular Health – High blood pressure, high cholesterol and other conditions that can mess with proper blood flow are all linked to erectile function. Talk to your doctor about these conditions and any medication you may be taking before taking sildenafil. 
  • Anxiety & Depression – These two common psychological conditions have been shown to be associated with erectile dysfunction. Your doctor may prescribe different approaches to treatment based on your particular kind of erectile dysfunction. 

Is sildenafil my only option? 

Sildenafil is the most commonly prescribed drug for erectile dysfunction, but it’s not the only kind. There are several drugs in the class called “phosphodiesterase type 5 (PDE5)” inhibitors that come in a variety of types and dosages. 

Tadalafil, for example, is available in a daily-dose, meaning it’s taken every day regardless of sexual activity or not. There may also be non-prescription drug options that suit your needs. 

Talking to your doctor or pharmacist should always be the first step in seeking help for erectile dysfunction. Taking action in combating erectile dysfunction is an important step, and you don’t have to go to battle alone.