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Dr Clare Morrison

Article by Dr Clare Morrison

How Fast Does Viagra Work?


Key points

  • Viagra normally takes half an hour to an hour to work for the majority of men
  • Diet, overall health, medications and underlying conditions can have an impact on how fast Viagra takes effect
  • Drinking alcohol and eating before taking Viagra will cause the medicine to work more slowly

Viagra is one of the best-known treatments for adult men suffering from erectile dysfunction and is used by millions of men across the world. But how fast does Viagra work, and what factors stop the drug from working as effectively as it could?

How fast does Viagra work?

Viagra takes about 30 minutes to an hour to work for most men. It’s best to take Viagra at least an hour before you intend to have sex – although for some men it can work from half an hour after taking the drug. Diet, health, medications and underlying conditions can also have a strong impact on how fast Viagra works.

  • Alcohol consumption – If you drink more than one or two units of alcohol, Viagra will be less effective. Excessive alcohol consumption can have an effect on erections whether you are suffering from erectile dysfunction or not.
  • Food – If you eat any meal before you take Viagra, the medicine will take effect more slowly as it will be harder for Viagra to enter the bloodstream. It’s best to take Viagra on an empty stomach – so leave two hours after eating before taking Viagra.
  • Sexual stimulation – In order for Viagra to work, sexual stimulation is needed.

It’s important to take Viagra on an empty stomach and not after a heavy meal, or it may not work as well. Viagra lasts between four to six hours and should be taken just once in 24 hours – even if no results occur. You should also avoid taking any other erectile dysfunction drugs with Viagra.

How long does Viagra last?

Viagra has been known to work up to five hours at a time. However, for many men, the effects of the pill wear off just two to three hours after they take it. In order to understand more about how Viagra will work for you, discuss your full medical history and details of other medicines you take with your doctor. How long Viagra lasts, depends on the following factors:

  • Health – If you drink a lot of alcohol, it will be difficult to maintain an erection as drinking alcohol decreases the blood flow to the penis. A single drink is usually ok but more than two units of alcohol will increase the risk of negative side effects. As well as this, if you have liver or kidney problems, Viagra could actually last longer as the tablet will take time to break down. Diet is also key – try to avoid taking Viagra after eating a large meal with high-fat content.
  • Age – Older men will find that the tablet stays in their body for longer as the body’s metabolic system slows down with age. This means Viagra can last longer the older you get.
  • Dosage – Viagra comes in tablets ranging from 25 mg to 100 mg. The higher the dose, the more effective and long-lasting the effects will be. It’s important to consult your doctor about which dosage is best for you.

Is it possible to increase the effect of Viagra?

There’s no way to speed up the effects of Viagra. As mentioned above, the best thing to do is to take Viagra in the best possible conditions to ensure that it gets absorbed quickly into the bloodstream. This means on an empty stomach, or, if you have to eat, after consuming a low-fat meal rather than fast food. It’s also important not to worry too long about the amount of time it takes Viagra to work as this can have an effect on nerves and could affect the impact of Viagra.

What are the side effects of Viagra?

It’s always important to be aware of side effects when you take Viagra. Viagra has been used for millions of men across the world for over a decade and is proven to be a safe and effective treatment. However, some men may experience side effects. These include:

  • Headaches
  • Flushing
  • Indigestion
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea

All of these side effects shouldn’t last more than a few hours. However, if you have longer-lasting problems, consult your doctor. If you have any further questions contact one of MedExpress’ customer service team. 

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Dr Clare Morrison
Dr Clare Morrison
Experienced General Practitioner in Hampshire since 1995, with particular interest in Nutrition, Obesity and Smoking Cessation.
Originally published April 25 2018, updated July 05 2019