Viagra, also known as sildenafil, is an oral medication designed to relax smooth muscle tissue and increase blood flow to a man’s penis. It is for the treatment of erectile dysfunction, or impotence.
Viagra inhibits the production of an enzyme known as PDE-5 (phosphodiesterase type 5). This allows nitric oxide, which is released when the penis is stimulated, to be used more effectively. When nitric oxide is used more effectively, it allows the penis to more easily become engorged with blood.
Viagra, discovered by scientists in Kent, England, was originally intended to be a treatment for hypertension and angina. While the drug was undergoing clinical trials, doctors observed that while it initially appeared to have little effect on the conditions it was intended to treat, it had a side effect of creating penile erections. Scrapping their original intent, in 1988 manufacturers introduced Viagra to the marketplace as a treatment for erectile dysfunction. Viagra has been endorsed by a diverse group of individuals, including U.S. Senator Bob Dole, and soccer star Pele. Viagra skyrocketed in popularity, and in 2008, manufacturer Pfizer saw nearly $2 billion in revenue thanks to this marvelous new wonder drug.
Viagra comes in a diamond shaped tablet, is blue in color, and available in strengths of 25, 50, or 100 milligrams. One dose can be taken every 24 hours, and ideally should be taken 30-60 minutes prior to sexual intercourse.
Erectile dysfunction is a condition in which men are no longer able to achieve an erection, or sustain an erection long enough for sexual intercourse. In men without erectile dysfunction, an erection is achieved through physical or visual stimulation as the corpa cavernosa (two tubes that run the length of the penis) engorges with blood. This results in the penis expanding and hardening. Once the corpora cavernosa are engorged, they block the veins that carry blood from the penis, allowing a man to sustain an erection. Men who experience erectile dysfunction due to physical causes may find the condition further exacerbated by the anxiety caused by concerns about being able to achieve and maintain an erection. By taking Viagra, the increased blood flow to the penis means a man will be confidently be able to achieve an erection when physically or visually stimulated, reducing anxiety related to performance.
Viagra is effective for approximately 5 hours after taking it, though effects may begin to diminish after 2-3 hours. There are factors that can affect how long Viagra stays in the system, how effective it is, and how long it continues to be effective. For example, men over 65 metabolize the drug more slowly, meaning it will effective longer. Eating a meal with high fat content can reduce the effectiveness of Viagra. If taken on an empty stomach, it will be effective more quickly. The consumption of alcohol can inhibit blood flow to the penis, making it less effective. A glass of wine or one beer will not have a negative impact, but more alcohol than that could interfere with the drug’s effectiveness. Lastly, it is important to take the correct dosage. A stronger dosage is typically more effective and long lasting than a lower dosage, but you should follow your doctor’s directions regarding the dosage.
There are added benefits of using Viagra that were only recently discovered. According to a recent NBC News article, Viagra not only improves your sex life, it can also improve your heart health. Research indicates that Viagra prevents thickening of the heart and early stage heart failure. Further, Viagra was shown to prevent the heart from changing shape in those with left ventricular hypertrophy, and improved heart function in patients with a variety of cardiac conditions. It also led to greater heart efficiency as the heart was able to relax between beats as it pumped blood into the vessels. Researchers indicated few drugs to date have been as effective in improving heart health.