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Dr Clare Morrison

Article by Dr Clare Morrison

What to Expect When Taking Viagra for the First Time


If you’re preparing for your first time Viagra experience, well done! Only one-third of men who experience erectile dysfunction (ED) actually do anything about the issue. So, by taking steps to deal with the issue you can expect to get back to having great sex soon.

So, what happens when you take Viagra for the first time? Let’s look at what you can expect from taking the ‘little blue pill’, see how it will affect you and how to take it for the best results.

Is Viagra safe?

If this is your first time Viagra experience, it’s perfectly normal to want to know if the drug is safe. The short answer is that yes, Viagra is absolutely safe. The drug is made by Pfizer, a reputable pharmaceutical company and has been put through countless clinical trials to make sure it is safe. Under normal circumstances and taken correctly, the medicine will do no harm.

However, as we describe below, some people experience relatively minor side-effects with Viagra. Also, if taken under certain conditions or by people who have other health issues, it can be problematic. And that’s why you need a prescription for Viagra and most other kinds of ED treatment (although not for Viagra Connect).

What to expect when taking Viagra for the first time

So, you’ve ordered a packet of Viagra or picked one up from the pharmacy. What happens next?

  • Consider a ‘trial run’

Some men choose to take a ‘trial run’ when taking Viagra for the first time. Instead of having sex with your partner, you might choose to take it on your own just to see what it’s like

  • Talk with your partner

Communication is key to good sex. If you feel comfortable, speak with your partner about your plans for your first time Viagra experience. You’ll then both feel prepared

  • Timing

Viagra normally takes between 30 minutes and one hour to kick in, so give it some time to take effect. The good news is that it will work well for five hours, and may work for 12 hours or even more.

  • What’s it like?

In most cases, you will notice that your erections will remain hard as long as you want. You should also be able to have sex more often when on Viagra, because the ‘refractory period’ (the amount of time you need to wait between having sex again) is often shorter.

What happens when you take Viagra for the first time? The science behind Viagra

From a scientific point of view, Viagra works by relaxing a certain type of muscle in your body. It contains the active ingredient sildenafil, which is one of a family of drugs known as PDE-5 inhibitors:

  • At the base of your penis there are muscles known as ‘smooth’ muscles, which are normally contracted, and stop blood flowing into your penis
  • When you get turned on, a complex series of chemicals are released and signals sent over your nervous system and these smooth muscles relax, allowing blood to enter. That means you get an erection
  • When you stop being turned on, or sometimes for no reason at all, a kind of enzyme called PDE-5 is released by your body. This enzyme causes those smooth muscles to contract again, and the erection disappears
  • However, if you take Viagra or other ED treatments, this enzyme is suppressed and the penis stays hard for longer

As noted above, the first time you take Viagra it will normally kick in after 30 minutes or so, although some people have reported that it works in as little as 12 minutes. For others, it can take up to an hour.

Does Viagra work every time?

Unfortunately Viagra doesn’t work every time. While it has a high success rate (for at least 70% of men) for others it simply doesn’t work. If Viagra doesn’t work the first time you try it you shouldn’t give up immediately:

  • Sometimes it takes a couple of goes for Viagra to work. That said, if it doesn’t work on the second or third time of taking, contact your GP.
  • It’s not the right dose or the right drug for you. You might benefit from a higher dose than you’ve been prescribed. Alternatively, you might get along better with one of the other kinds of ED treatment.
  • You’re not aroused. Viagra depends on you feeling aroused to kick in. If you’re not turned on, it won’t work.
  • You’re too stressed or anxious. While Viagra often works well for men whose ED is primarily psychological, it still may not work if you are feeling too stressed or anxious. In this case, you might want to consider combining medication with some counselling
  • Medical issues and general health. Viagra may not work if you are taking other kinds of medication, using illegal drugs or have other health issues. You’ll need to discuss your personal circumstances with a doctor first.

Side effects – what to expect when taking Viagra for the first time

While most people who take Viagra experience no side-effects at all, there are a handful of relatively minor side-effects you may encounter. These include:

While most people who take Viagra experience no side-effects at all, there are a handful of relatively minor side-effects you may encounter. These include:

  • Skin flushes
  • A slight change in vision (things may appear to have a blue tinge)
  • Nausea
  • Headaches
  • Upset stomach
  • Muscle aches or back pain

There’s also a small chance you might develop a condition called priapism, where you have a painful erection that lasts for more than four hours. This usually happens because Viagra has interacted with another medication or illegal drug in your system. Seek medical attention if this happens.

Other tips for your first time Viagra experience

There are a number of things you can do to give yourself the best experience when you take Viagra for the first time. These include:

  • Avoid eating

Viagra will work faster if taken on an empty stomach. Avoid eating for at least a couple of hours before you take the drug, but if you do eat, avoid high-fat foods.

  • Improve general fitness and health

Viagra works best when you are in shape. Try to take regular exercise – this will help with your general health and circulation

  • Avoid smoking, alcohol and illegal drugs

Smoking, drinking alcohol and illegal drugs are all known to cause ED, so it’s important to cut down (or quit) doing these. It’s also smart not to take Viagra when you have been drinking as it may reduce the effects of the drug. Illegal drugs should definitely be avoided too, as the combination may have serious side-effects.

Make the most of your first time Viagra experience

Knowing what happens when you take Viagra for the first time can help you prepare mentally for taking the drug. With the right preparation in place, you’ll be able to have the kind of sex you want with complete confidence.

Browse our range of easy to order ED treatments that are delivered to your home in discreet packaging to start your journey back to great sex.

Dr Clare Morrison
Dr Clare Morrison
Experienced General Practitioner in Hampshire since 1995, with particular interest in Nutrition, Obesity and Smoking Cessation.
Originally published July 31 2019, updated July 31 2019