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Jan 18, 2022
3 min read

Do you need a prescription for Viagra?

Viagra (sildenafil) is an oral medication prescribed to treat erectile dysfunction (ED), part of a group of drugs known as PDE-5 inhibitors. You need a prescription for Viagra—both the brand-name drug and generic sildenafil.

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.

Ah, Viagra: the little blue pill that’s continued to take the nation by storm since its first introduction as a treatment for erectile dysfunction (ED) in the late 90s. If you are one of the millions of men with difficulties getting or maintaining an erection, you probably want to know how you can get your hands on some Viagra. And even though this condition is very common, you may be wondering if there’s a way to get Viagra without a prescript so that you can avoid that potentially “awkward conversation” with your healthcare provider. 

There’s bad news and good news: You can’t get Viagra without a prescription, but that conversation with your healthcare provider won’t be at all awkward—your provider has probably treated ED many times before. 

Keep reading to learn more about where to get Viagra and why you need a prescription. 

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First thing’s first: do you need a prescription for Viagra?

Yes, you need a prescription for Viagra and its generic equivalent, sildenafil. 

Viagra (generic name sildenafil; see Important Safety Information) is an oral medication that treats erectile dysfunction (ED). Along with Cialis (generic name tadalafil; see Important Safety Information), Levitra (generic name vardenafil), and Stendra (generic name avanafil), Viagra is part of a family of drugs called PDE-5 inhibitors, which work by keeping blood vessels relaxed. This encourages blood flow to the penis, producing and maintaining an erection (Dhaliwal, 2020).

So, why does the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) require a prescription for these meds? Because all erectile dysfunction medications, including Viagra, come with the risk of side effects, potentially dangerous contraindications, and drug interactions. For example, nitrates, a medication for heart disease and chest pain, can be fatal if taken with ED meds because both medications together can make your blood pressure plummet (Dishy, 2001). Additionally, people with certain medical conditions may not be able to take ED medication safely. 

That’s why it’s important to tell your healthcare provider about any medications you are taking or any underlying medical conditions you have so they can find the best treatment option for you.

They can take an accurate medical history, determine if any medications or supplements are contraindicated, or if your ED is the result of an underlying condition that needs further treatment. For example, ED could be linked to (Rew, 2016): 

Can you get Viagra over-the-counter? 

You can’t get Viagra or any PDE-5 inhibitors over-the-counter, and you should stay far away from any black market pills or over-the-counter products claiming to have the same ingredients or work the same way as Viagra. 

Viagra is one of the most counterfeited drugs in the world. When you buy an unregulated substitute for the real thing, you don’t know what you’re getting. One study showed that many of the pills being sold as “sildenafil” or “Viagra” actually contained dangerous substances, like blue printer ink, amphetamines (“speed”), too much of the active ingredient sildenafil or not enough, the antibiotic metronidazole, and drywall (Jackson, 2010; Pfizer, n.d.). 

Where to get Viagra

So, where can you get Viagra (or other PDE-5 inhibitors)? From your healthcare provider (if deemed appropriate for you).

While there’s nothing to be embarrassed about (remember, your doc has seen it all!), the thought of talking about ED might be a tough pill to swallow for some. Luckily, many online options are now available, so you can avoid the face-to-face interaction if that worries you. 

Just be sure that you are getting your prescription from a reputable company that only works with U.S.-licensed providers. That way, you’ll know you are being evaluated properly and getting a legit prescription.

We get it: Talking about ED can be intimidating or embarrassing. But you owe it to yourself to talk with a healthcare professional today. ED affects millions of men. Get the medical advice you need to take back control of your health.

References

  1. Dhaliwal, A. & Gupta, M. (2020). PDE5 Inhibitor. [Updated on June 25, 2021] In: StatPearls [Internet]. Retrieved on May 18, 2021 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK549843/
  2. Dishy, V., Sofowora, G., Harris, P. A., Kandcer, M., Zhan, F., Wood, A. J., et al. (2001). The effect of sildenafil on nitric oxide-mediated vasodilation in healthy men. Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics, 70(3), 270–279. doi: 10.1067/mcp.2001.117995. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11557915/
  3. Jackson, G., Arver, S., Banks, I., & Stecher, V. J. (2010). Counterfeit phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitors pose significant safety risks. International Journal of Clinical Practice, 64(4), 497–504. doi: 0.1111/j.1742-1241.2009.02328.x. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3069491/ 
  4. Pfizer. (n.d.). Viagra: Avoid counterfeits. Retrieved on Jan. 18, 2021, from https://www.viagra.com/getting/avoid-counterfeits
  5. Rew, K. T. & Heidelbaugh, J. J. (2016). Erectile dysfunction. American Family Physician, 94(10), 820–827. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27929275/