Viagra is a brand name for a medication called sildenafil citrate. It is primarily used to treat erectile dysfunction (ED), a condition in which a man has difficulty achieving or maintaining an erection sufficient for sexual activity. Viagra works by increasing blood flow to the penis, which helps men with ED to achieve and sustain an erection when sexually aroused.
Here are some key points about Viagra:
1. Mechanism of Action: Viagra belongs to a class of drugs called phosphodiesterase type 5 (PDE5) inhibitors. It works by inhibiting the enzyme PDE5, which is responsible for breaking down a molecule called cGMP in the body. Increased levels of cGMP relax the smooth muscles in the blood vessels of the penis, allowing more blood to flow in, which results in an erection.
2. Usage: Viagra is typically taken orally as a tablet about 30 minutes to an hour before sexual activity. It should be taken only when needed and under the guidance of a healthcare professional. The drug does not produce spontaneous erections; sexual stimulation is still required for it to be effective.
3. Dosage: The recommended dosage of Viagra can vary from person to person, and it should be determined by a healthcare provider based on individual factors like age, medical history, and the severity of erectile dysfunction.
4. Side Effects: Common side effects of Viagra may include headache, flushing, nasal congestion, upset stomach, and visual disturbances. More serious side effects are rare but can include priapism (a painful and prolonged erection lasting more than four hours) and sudden vision loss. If you experience any unusual or severe side effects, seek immediate medical attention.
5. Precautions: Viagra should not be taken by individuals who are allergic to sildenafil or any of its ingredients. It can interact with certain medications, especially nitrates (often prescribed for chest pain), and may lead to a dangerous drop in blood pressure. It is important to inform your healthcare provider about all the medications you are taking before starting Viagra.
6. Availability: As of my last knowledge update in September 2021, Viagra was available only by prescription in most countries. However, there may have been changes in regulations or the availability of generic versions of sildenafil since then.
It's crucial to consult with a healthcare provider before using Viagra or any medication to treat erectile dysfunction. They can provide guidance on the appropriate use, dosage, and potential interactions with other medications. Additionally, it's important to consider underlying health conditions and lifestyle factors that may contribute to ED and discuss them with a healthcare professional as part of a comprehensive approach to addressing the issue.