According to recent studies, just over half of males between the ages of 40 and 70 are likely to be affected by erectile dysfunction to some degree. Despite the huge number of people affected, there can be no denying that there is still a degree of stigma attached to the condition – it’s often joked about and can be embarrassing to discuss.
However, it’s worth noting that erectile dysfunction is nothing more than a mild physiological problem – it’s more common than certain gastrointestinal problems, yet we rarely poke fun at, say, heartburn!
Erectile dysfunction can be incredibly shameful for those it affects – it makes men feel less masculine, and makes women feel unloved. Thankfully, modern science has afforded us a number of straightforward treatment options.
One such solution is a drug called sildenafil citrate – or Viagra, as it is most commonly known. Sildenafil is a compound which affects blood vessel width. This makes it easier for blood to enter the penis, which causes the tissues to expand and harden, thereby facilitating the development of an erection.
Sildenafil is taken by millions of men around the world to treat erectile dysfunction with great results, although the action of the drug can vary dependent on a number of physiological and circumstantial factors which will differ from person to person. Many people are unaware that simple differences in what you eat or drink can cause drug interactions with sildenafil. It’s, therefore, important to understand how the medication works before taking it.
Despite the fact that sildenafil is most commonly known as an ED drug which can be taken to combat impotence, it was originally developed as a medication to treat pulmonary hypertension. During medical trials, many men reported the unexpected side effect of the ability to achieve and maintain an erection, and since then the drug has been primarily used for this purpose.
It’s a common misconception that sildenafil automatically causes an erection. In actual fact, a man has to be mentally stimulated before an erection will occur. In order to understand how sildenafil works, we first need to take a look at what happens in the body when an erection occurs.
When a man becomes aroused, the body releases a compound called nitric oxide – this, in turn, produces an enzyme known as cyclic guanosine monophosphate (or gCMP for short). The core function of gCMP is to facilitate the relaxation of the muscle cells within the penis.
This causes the arteries of the penis to dilate and allows blood to easily flow into the organ. An erection is achieved when the erectile tissues have filled sufficiently with blood. Sildenafil functions in order to address physiological issues which prevent the penis from functioning in this way.
Interaction of Sildenafil With…
Like most medications, taking sildenafil and alcohol together can cause Viagra side effects to occur. Some of the most common side effects reported by men taking sildenafil are headaches, low blood pressure, and slight dizziness. Because these effects are also caused by excessive alcohol consumption, combining the two can prove to be something of a heavy mixture.
Sildenafil will work with alcohol, however, moderation is advised, as too much can create a further propensity to faint or cause heart palpitations (when the heart beats irregularly, either too quickly or slowly). This can put excess strain on the vascular system and is potentially dangerous.
While sildenafil can be taken with one or two drinks, it is advisable to avoid alcohol altogether in order to enjoy the best possible experience – after all, nothing would ruin the moment more than fainting during a romantic evening!
Ideally, sildenafil should be taken approximately an hour before you plan to have intercourse – the idea behind this is to give the body time to absorb the medication into the bloodstream. If possible, sildenafil should be taken on an empty stomach.
On Full Stomach
You may be wondering “can I take sildenafil with a meal?” Without getting into the hard science of how the body processes sildenafil, it is important to understand when taking it with food that it will take longer to work – particularly with foods that are rich in fats and proteins.
Put simply, sildenafil is absorbed from the stomach into the bloodstream. Upon reaching the bloodstream it is then carried to the relevant part of the body. If a heavy meal is eaten before a tablet is taken, the tablet essentially has to “queue” while your stomach digests the meal, therefore delaying the absorption of the medication.
Obviously, it isn’t always ideal to go without food before taking sildenafil – for example, you may be having a meal as part of a date night. In instances where avoiding food altogether is impossible, it may be worthwhile choosing a lighter option such as a salad or vegetable soup. Not only will this mean that you sildenafil will get to work much quicker, it will also be healthier for you.
Some studies link erectile dysfunction to health, diet, and general well being – so for your long-term health, it might be a good idea to consider healthier food choices all round, not just for the purposes of taking sildenafil.
Taking Sildenafil with Grapefruit
Grapefruit and grapefruit juice should be avoided at all costs when taking sildenafil. The drug will still work in terms of widening the blood vessels and allowing the development of an erection if taken in conjunction with grapefruit, however the fruit and its juice has the undesirable effect of preventing the breakdown of sildenafil within the body, which means there is a greater uptake of the medication from the intestine into the blood.
Ultimately, this means that much greater side effects are experienced, such as:
- low blood pressure;
- flushing of the skin;
- potential fainting.
It is, therefore, advisable that grapefruit should be cut from your diet completely before taking sildenafil. For added peace of mind, you should also consult with your doctor before making any dietary changes – particularly if you suffer from any persistent medical conditions (such as diabetes).
Sildenafil is known to interact with over 400 different medicines. The vast majority of these interactions are relatively minor and aren’t likely to cause too much stress or discomfort in terms of side effects.
There are, however, certain medicines – like nitrates – which should never be combined with sildenafil as they could potentially cause side effects with serious or even fatal consequences. The table below highlights some popular drugs and their interactions with sildenafil.
|Nitroglycerin||Causes blood pressure to fall rapidly|
|Omeprazole||Increased blood levels of Sildenafil|
|Boceprevir||Increased blood levels of Sildenafil|
|Clarithromycin||Potentially increased blood levels of Sildenafil|
|Amoxycillin||Potentially increased blood levels of Sildenafil|
For complete clarification on how sildenafil reacts with different medications, or to ascertain whether any medications you are currently taking could potentially interact with sildenafil, you should consult a qualified medical professional.
Sildenafil Tablets Taking with Drugs
Taking sildenafil with recreational drugs is not recommended under any circumstances. As a matter of fact, certain drugs can cause a potentially fatal drop in blood pressure when combined with any PDE-5 inhibitor. Another side effect when combining sildenafil with other drugs is priapism. This is when too much blood engorges the penis, causing a particularly painful erection for a prolonged period of time.
If you experience this or other serious side effects (such as loss of vision) when combining sildenafil with other drugs, you should seek urgent emergency medical help.
Dangers of Sildenafil and Nitrates
Nitrates are the most dangerous medication to use in conjunction with sildenafil, as the combination can create significant low blood pressure (hypotension) which can be fatal. Leading health experts around the world have repeatedly concluded that the risk is too great to ever recommend using both medicines at once.
However, those with stable angina may be permitted to take low doses of sildenafil in the event of undertaking a medical assessment in order to rule out any potential issues. Your doctor or physician should be consulted prior to self-administering sildenafil in this instance.
Sildenafil interactions aren’t only limited to prescribed medications containing nitrates – it applies to recreational drugs (often referred to as ‘poppers’) too. Should hypotension occur, the user should be put in the recovery position and emergency services should be contacted immediately. We offer free Viagra samples delivered straight to your door.