What Is Viagra?

Viagra is the brand name of the prescription medicine sildenafil citrate. It’s used to treat erectile dysfunction (ED) in men. ED means you can’t get or keep an erection.

This medicine is also sold under the name Revatio to treat adults with pulmonary arterial hypertension (high blood pressure in the lungs). Revatio is given to improve exercise ability and slow down worsening changes in people with this condition.

Additionally, Viagra has been used “off-label” for other medical conditions, such as Raynaud’s disease (a condition that causes fingers and toes to become cold and numb) and prostate cancer.

Viagra is in a class of medicines known as phosphodiesterase (PDE) inhibitors. It works by increasing blood flow to the penis.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Viagra in 1998. It’s marketed by Pfizer, Inc.

Viagra Warnings

Some medicines are not safe to take with Viagra. Specifically, Viagra shouldn’t be used in combination with a nitrate drug for treating chest pain or heart problems. This includes nitroglycerin, isosorbide dinitrate, isosorbide mononitrate, amyl nitrate, or nitrite “poppers”.

Taking Viagra with a nitrate drug can cause a sudden and dangerous drop in blood pressure.

Also, you shouldn’t use the medicine for pulmonary hypertension Adempas (riociguat) if you’re taking Viagra.

Before you start on Viagra, tell your doctor if you have or have ever had:

  • Heart disease, a heart attack, heart failure, or heart rhythm problems
  • High or low blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • A stroke
  • Kidney or liver disease
  • Diabetes
  • A blood disorder, such as multiple myeloma, leukemia, or sickle cell anemia
  • A bleeding disorder, such as hemophilia
  • Blood circulation problems
  • Blockages in the veins of the lungs
  • Retinitis pigmentosa (an inherited eye condition)
  • Stomach ulcers
  • A deformity of the penis, such as Peyronie’s disease
  • Allergies to medications

Tell your physician if you have ever had an erection that lasted for several hours, if you smoke, or if you’ve recently been dehydrated.

Also, let your healthcare provider know if you’ve been told not to have sex for health reasons before starting on Viagra.

Viagra can lower blood flow to the optic nerve in your eye, which may cause sudden vision loss. Most people who experience this complication also have heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, or specific eye problems. Being a smoker and over 50 years of age also increases the risk of vision issues.

If you experience sudden vision loss, stop using Viagra and seek emergency medical help.

Also, let your doctor know immediately if you have chest pain, nausea, or dizziness during sexual activity while taking Viagra.

Viagra shouldn’t be used by anyone under 18 years of age, unless a doctor tells you otherwise.

Let your doctor know you’re taking Viagra before having any type of surgery, including a dental procedure.

Pregnancy and Viagra

The FDA hasn’t approved Viagra for sexual dysfunction in women, so it’s not likely to affect an unborn baby. Still, Viagra isn’t expected to cause harm during pregnancy. Tell your doctor if you’re pregnant or plan to become pregnant while taking this medicine.

It’s not known if Viagra can pass into breast milk. Talk to your doctor before breastfeeding a baby while using this drug.

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