7 Things You Need to Know About Viagra--Your Ultimate Guide

1. Food slows down absorption

If you take Viagra on an empty stomach, on average you'll get the peak effects about an hour later, although it might happen in as little as 30 minutes or in as long as 2 hours.

If you've eaten lately, though, especially if you had a high fat meal, your body will absorb the drug more slowly. It could delay the effects of Viagra by about an hour, according to the FDA.

So, use your meal schedule to your advantage when you're planning to use Viagra. You can postpone the effects with a heavy meal, or speed things up by saving dinner for after the main event.

2. Don't share your Viagra with your lady

There's a major misconception that, since Viagra gets men ready to go, it should do the same thing for women. So you might think it's okay to offer a little blue pill to your girlfriend if she's having trouble getting into the mood.

Not so fast, though. First, Viagra doesn't actually increase your sex drive. It works with an enzyme that affects blood flow into the corpus cavernosum--the tissue in your penis that fills with blood when you get hard.

It helps you get erect as a result of sexual stimulation, but it won't actually make you horny. Any effect of that kind that you experience is due to the placebo effect.

At best, it might make your partner's clitoris become engorged with blood, which might increase sensitivity but also makes it more likely that the clitoris will retract under the clitoral hood.

Translation: it won't make your partner more interested, and it might actually make it harder for you to find her clitoris.

In short, you're better off getting her hot and bothered with your own skills, rather than with your meds.

Also, because Viagra isn't designed for women, there aren't really any studies showing whether Viagra is safe and under what conditions. And it's not worth it to risk your partner's health by sharing your prescription with her.

3. The infamous warning from the commercials is no joke

"See your doctor if you experience an erection lasting more than four hours."

It's the butt of many jokes, many of which assume that a lengthy erection would be more of a miracle than a medical emergency. After all, who doesn't want to last longer in the sack?

But priapism, the medical term for an erection that won't go away, is a serious problem that can have life-changing consequences if left untreated.

The problem with priapism is that the blood that's lingering in your penis isn't getting oxygen from your lungs anymore.

As the blood cells begin dying from lack of oxygen, they can start to damage tissues in the penis.

Aside from being incredibly painful, this can lead to lifelong erectile dysfunction.

On the bright side, while priapism is very serious, it's also very rare: less than one person per hundred thousand experiences it per year.

So don't let the fear of priapism scare you off Viagra; just be aware that an erection that won't go away isn't something to ignore.

4. It affects your blood pressure

Viagra was actually originally discovered when researchers were looking for a solution to high blood pressure and angina (chest pain).

They hoped that sildenafil, the active ingredient in Viagra, would reduce blood pressure, and it did, but not as much as they had hoped.

However, they found it had another use: helping men with ED get it up.

In healthy research participants, single doses of Viagra were found to decrease systolic blood pressure by 8.3 mmHg, and diastolic by 5.3 mmHg.

That might not sound like a lot, but you might be surprised at how much you notice a sudden decrease in blood pressure, even if it's slight.

Until you know how Viagra affects you, it might be a good idea to avoid driving and other activities where a sudden drop in blood pressure could be catastrophic.

If you do feel dizzy, nauseous, or lightheaded, sit or lie down, and clench your legs and buttocks together. Wait until the dizziness passes before you try and stand, and be ready to sit or lie back down if needed.

5. Viagra and alcohol isn't a good idea

Fortunately, alcohol and Viagra don't interact with each other in any dangerous ways. And, even though drinking also lowers temporarily lowers blood pressure (by depressing your central nervous system), it doesn't appear that the effects compound.

That being said, if you're struggling with ED, you probably want to avoid alcohol before sex anyway.

We've all heard of whiskey dick, and science backs it up: alcohol makes it more difficult for you to get hard.

If you're struggling enough with ED to pursue Viagra as a viable solution, sober sex might be worth trying to see if it helps improve your problem.

At most, you should be drinking moderately, defined as no more than 2 drinks per day if you're under 65, and no more than 1 per day if you're 65 or older.

6. It can affect your hearing and vision

Most of the common side effects of Viagra are pretty mild: headache, indigestion, flushing, and nasal congestion.

But there are a few side effects that might scare the bejeezus out of you if you don't know about them in advance.

For example, higher doses of Viagra have been found to temporarily affect how well people can distinguish between blue and green. Some people have also reported a faint blue tinge to their field of vision.

The effect doesn't last once the Viagra is out of your system, and it doesn't affect your visual acuity, the pressure in your eye, or the size or reactivity of your pupil.

Although rare, there have also been cases of people spontaneously losing vision in one or both eyes after taking Viagra and medications like it.

There are also cases of reduction or loss of hearing, sometimes paired with a ringing in the ears and dizziness.

If you experience loss of hearing or vision, stop taking Viagra and seek immediate medical attention.

It's useful for almost any kind of ED

There are a lot of different causes of erectile problems, from diabetes to spinal cord injuries to psychological causes, and many cases of ED don't have a clear cause.

Fortunately, Viagra has been found to work significantly better than a placebo for both getting and keeping erections in all these cases.

So, even if you have underlying health issues contributing to your ED, or even if you don't know exactly why you're having trouble getting it up, Viagra can help you make sure you're ready to perform when you want to.

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