How to take Viagra (sildenafil) for best results: tips to make Viagra more effective

Felix Gussone, MD - Contributor Avatar

Reviewed by Felix Gussone, MD, Ro, 

Written by Michael Martin 

Felix Gussone, MD - Contributor Avatar

Reviewed by Felix Gussone, MD, Ro, 

Written by Michael Martin 

last updated: May 22, 2023

5 min read

Viagra (active ingredient sildenafil) is a highly effective, FDA-approved medication used to treat erectile dysfunction (ED). But like any other medication, it’s not a magic pill. If Viagra isn’t achieving the results you desire, you can make changes to make Viagra more effective. Taking the pill at the right time, not taking it on a full stomach, and avoiding taking it with drug or alcohol use all might improve the effectiveness of the medication. Lifestyle changes and healthy habits may also make Viagra more effective.  

Whether you’re taking Viagra for the first time or you’re a seasoned pro, continue reading to learn how to make Viagra work best for you.

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How does Viagra work?

Viagra treats erectile dysfunction by stopping the chemical reaction that causes blood to leave an erect penis—this is key to understanding how to make Viagra more effective. 

More specifically, Viagra is a member of a class of drugs called PDE-5 inhibitors. These work by blocking an enzyme called PDE-5, which encourages blood to flow out of the penis. When PDE-5 is blocked, it keeps the blood vessels in the penis open, allowing blood to flow into the penis more freely, making it easier to get and maintain an erection.

PDE-5 inhibitors like Viagra don't cause an erection automatically. Sexual arousal is necessary to get an erection on Viagra. So, the first step you can take to boost the effects of Viagra is to set the mood.

Viagra Important Safety Information: Read more about serious warnings and safety info.

4 Tips to make Viagra (sildenafil) more effective

Several factors can influence how quickly and effectively Viagra works once you take it. Here are some tips that can really help Viagra do its thing.

1. Avoid taking Viagra on a full stomach

If you take Viagra on a full stomach—particularly if you’ve had a heavy, high-fat meal—the medication may take longer to work.

A full stomach can delay your body's absorption of Viagra by up to an hour, meaning your erection might come later than expected, be less strong than you want, or not last as long as you’d like. This doesn't necessarily mean you need to take Viagra on an empty stomach, but be mindful of taking it too close to full, heavy meals.

2. Avoid consuming alcohol or drugs while taking Viagra

While it’s safe to drink alcohol with Viagra in moderation, drinking may make it more difficult to get an erection. Alcohol is a depressant that affects many different systems in the body, including those involved in producing an erection. 

Alcohol, as well as marijuana and other drugs, can worsen ED symptoms. Chronic heavy drinking damages the liver, heart, and nerves, as well as reduces testosterone—all of which can lead to ED and make it more difficult for Viagra to achieve its desired effect.

3. Take the recommended dose—and get the timing right 

When it comes to medication, more is not necessarily better. But, if you’re taking Viagra exactly as you're supposed to and it still doesn’t work for you, adjusting the dose or switching to a different prescription medication might help. Speak to your healthcare provider so they can make the appropriate adjustments to your prescription (and never take more Viagra than is prescribed to you).

4. Get the timing right

Ideally, Viagra should be taken 30–60 minutes before you plan to have sex for best results. It needs time to work, so taking Viagra too close to the time that you need it may make it more difficult to get an erection strong enough for satisfying sex

Taking Viagra too early may do the same. Because Viagra works for about four hours before wearing off, taking it too far in advance of sexual activity (say, in the morning when you plan to have sex at night) might not lead to the erection you want. If you’re new to Viagra, try it out a couple of times solo to see how it affects you. Knowing how you react to Viagra might take some pressure off when it comes to partnered play.

5. Improve your overall health

Viagra (and erections in general) work best when you're healthy. A healthy body—particularly a healthy heart—is your best asset in overcoming ED. 

Since an erection requires good blood flow, anything that hinders blood flow makes getting an erection more difficult. That’s true even if you take Viagra. The best way to get longer-lasting, stronger erections is by improving blood flow and blood pressure and maintaining healthy hormone levels. You can keep your heart healthy with these tips:

  • Get enough cardiovascular exercise. A sedentary lifestyle is a major risk factor for erectile dysfunction, especially because it can contribute to heart disease, high blood pressure, and other medical conditions that affect blood flow. One study found that men who were inactive or moderately active (less than 150 minutes of physical activity a week) were as much as 60% more likely to experience ED than men who got at least 150 minutes of physical activity each week.

  • Maintain a healthy weight. A large, multi-year study found that obesity nearly doubles a person’s risk for ED. Obesity is also a risk factor for type 2 diabetes, which can damage nerves and blood vessels throughout the body. This includes those that supply the penis, which can result in ED.

  • Don’t smoke. Tobacco smoke contains thousands of toxins that can damage the lining of the blood vessels in your body, including the penis. Research has linked cigarette smoking to erectile dysfunction and shown that stopping smoking can help improve symptoms of ED.

Can you make Viagra (sildenafil) work faster? Myths debunked

If you’re not satisfied with the results of your Viagra, it’s likely you’ve taken to the internet for tips to make the medication work faster (you’re here, after all). While some tips and tricks promise to help you get an erection faster, there is no way to speed up the process of Viagra if you are already taking the medication as prescribed. Here are some myths about making Viagra work faster.

Does chewing Viagra (sildenafil) make it work faster?

Does chewing make Viagra work faster? The answer is no. These pills are not made to work that way and should be swallowed as a whole, as recommended by the manufacturer of the medication. If you chew your Viagra, the time it takes to fully process the pill either stays the same, or it may even cause the medication to take even longer to help you achieve an erection.

Does Viagra (sildenafil) work faster under the tongue?

Viagra (and its generic counterpart, sildenafil) are meant to be swallowed, not dissolved under the tongue. Viagra must pass through the digestive tract in order to work properly. There are sublingual (under the tongue) options on the market that contain sildenafil and other PDE-5 inhibitors. 

Does Viagra (sildenafil) increase your sex drive?

While Viagra is extremely effective to help you get or maintain an erection, unfortunately, it doesn’t increase your libido. Sexual arousal is needed for the pill to do its job. If you struggle with low libido or mismatched libido with a partner, speak to your healthcare provider. They may refer you to a sex therapist or explore other medical options to increase your sex drive.

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Viagra side effects

All medications have the potential to cause side effects, and ED medications like Viagra are no different. Common side effects of Viagra tend to be mild and include:

  • Dizziness

  • Headache

  • Flushing

  • Upset stomach or indigestion

  • Abnormal vision (increased sensitivity to light, blurred vision, or blue-tinted vision)

  • Nasal congestion or runny nose

  • Back pain

  • Insomnia

  • Rash

  • Muscle pain

Serious side effects of Viagra are less common but require urgent medical attention if experienced. These include: 

  • Priapism (a prolonged, painful erection that won't go away)

  • Chest pain

  • Sudden vision loss

  • Ringing in ears or hearing loss

  • Seizures

  • Swelling in your arms or legs

If you’re taking Viagra but haven’t achieved the desired effects, these tips may make the medication more effective. If all else fails, a different dosage or alternative medication might be a better fit. Speak with your healthcare provider to learn how you can get the most out of your erectile dysfunction medication.

DISCLAIMER

If you have any medical questions or concerns, please talk to your healthcare provider. The articles on Health Guide are underpinned by peer-reviewed research and information drawn from medical societies and governmental agencies. However, they are not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.


How we reviewed this article

Every article on Health Guide goes through rigorous fact-checking by our team of medical reviewers. Our reviewers are trained medical professionals who ensure each article contains the most up-to-date information, and that medical details have been correctly interpreted by the writer.

Current version

May 22, 2023

Written by

Michael Martin

Fact checked by

Felix Gussone, MD


About the medical reviewer

Felix Gussone is a physician, health journalist and a Manager, Medical Content & Education at Ro.

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