Erectile dysfunction (ED) is becoming a common disorder among men. In the United States, more than 25 million men have it. Though it is a condition that affects middle aged to elderly men (aged 40 years and above), men in the younger age (men who are in the 20s) may also have it. But, can you buy Viagra – touted as the pill to treat ED – over-the-counter (OTC)? Read on for more details.

The act of having an erection of your penis means an extra supply of blood has reached your penis. This additional gush of blood is actually a key prerequisite for the hardening of your penile area. In the absence of erectile dysfunction or any other sexual disorders, an erection is effected either by direct touch of your penile region or when thoughts of a sexual activity arise in the mind. Your body has a couple of bags which wait for additional supply of blood to enter and fill them. But, this can happen when your blood vessels – carrying blood to these bags – expand in size and become capable of letting in a larger supply of blood through them. As and when the vessels expand to fill these slots near your penile area, you will experience an erection.

On the other hand, when the bags or slots in the penile area release blood out of them, your hardened penis slowly comes back to its normal size and hardness. These actions are important for you to end the erection. If your penis experiences a continued state of hardness or stays in the erected state for a long time, it can lead to bigger problems. Such effects can permanently damage your penile muscles and can impair your sexual health considerably.

How does Viagra work?

ED is treated by a combination of methods; these include intake of drugs, having an open discussion with an expert, usage of penile pumps, implants or vascular surgery. Medications prescribed to provide for additional supply of blood to your penile area include Viagra (sildenafil), Cialis (tadalafil), Levitra (vardenafil), Stendra (avanafil), etc.
Viagra is a drug belonging to a category of medications known as phosphodiesterase type-5 (PDE-5) inhibitors. PDE-5 is a derivative of an enzyme that prevents the relaxation of blood-carrying vessels; hence, it is the enzyme’s key function is to ensure your blood vessels shrink in size. PDE-5 inhibiting drugs such as Viagra mainly prevent your body from making this substance. Thus, your blood vessels do not shrink back; instead, they remain at a relaxed state for a longer span of time.

Viagra is not sold in the OTC route in the US

In the United Kingdom, Viagra connect is sold in the OTC route. However in the US, you will need a proper prescription to buy Viagra. The problem with prescription pills is men need to visit a physician and get their problem diagnosed before being prescribed with Viagra. Many men however are extremely hesitant to discuss about their sexual problems with physicians. Viagra connect is a product – made as an OTC drug in the UK – keeping these concerns in mind.

In case of all prescription medications, there are added costs in the form of consultations. So, in countries like UK, where there is a lot of hue and cry about increase in medical costs, making Viagra (at least one variant of it) as an OTC drug will help reduce costs. Making Viagra as an OTC drug has another advantage of users paying for it directly. It is likely to save a lot of costs to the paying agencies – in case of UK, it is the NHS.

Some time ago, Pfizer – the maker of Viagra – tried hard to bring another drug, Lipitor through the OTC window. Lipitor is a drug prescribed for reducing blood cholesterol levels in men and women alike. However, the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) shot it down fearing higher risks of self-diagnosis (which may often lead to misdiagnosis) and other likely risks associated with drug abuse. As it required patients’ compliance to check their LDL levels prior to intake of the drug, the proposal to turn it into an OTC drug did not gain momentum. The proposal was in fact terminated midway through. However, unlike medications for LDL, patients’ energy levels remain fairly high when it comes to treating their sexual health problems.

Though you cannot buy Viagra without a proper prescription, you can still buy a few equivalents through OTC mode. These are listed in the succeeding sections.

OTC drugs that can work like Viagra

Before looking at OTC options to treat Erectile Dysfunction, it is important to understand if it the drugs are safe. Of the many options available to treat ED in the OTC way, a few important treatments stand out from the rest. These are L-arginine (an amino acid which gets broken down into nitric oxide which helps widen your blood vessels), DHEA – Dehydroepiandrosterone (a substance having a direct link with sex hormones; some may produce lesser amounts of DHEA. For such men this is a godsend), Yohimbe (taken from a tree in Africa; and is used extensively to treat male impotence), Propionyl-L-carnitine (another amino acid naturally produced by your body; helps sort disorders associated with your circulatory system, and thus treats erectile dysfunction; often taken with other ED drugs to enhance the performance levels of such drugs), Ginseng (has powers to strengthen your sexual wellbeing as it is a natural aphrodisiac; it is known to raise your libido levels as well as lead to better orgasms).

Currently FDA brands them as supplements that are natural in form. However, FDA does not rule out the presence of a few harmful substances in these dietary supplements. Also, as documented evidences about these Viagra-substituting OTC drugs are not available, you are advised to consume these drugs strictly after taking needful inputs and advice from your treating doctor.

Things to check before buying Viagra online

There are a few basic things you need to stay aware of before purchasing Viagra through online pharmacies. The key aspects to be wary of include (1) as high as 3/4th (more than 76%) of online pharmacies may sell counterfeit drugs in the name of Viagra, (2) some of these pharmacies may sell – again, in the name of Viagra – drug that are laced with antibiotics or antihistamines, (3) purchasers from many online pharmacies have reported that their identities have been stolen or misused and (4) the actual dosages of drugs sold varied from those printed on the drug’s labels; for instance, while the drug label may claim a dose of 25mg, or 50mg, the actual dose may often be less or much more.

Pharmacies and their trustworthiness are under the scanner for some time now. Concerned agencies such as National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) and the likes have raised cautionary voices in this regard. According to such nodal bodies, before placing an order through an online pharmacy you need to be aware of a few essentials. To a greater extent it is possible to know a safer pharmacy from its dubious counterpart. The things to look out for are (a) availability of certification or a registration with a local or a national board of pharmacies, (b) pharmacy’s order management process; good practices include insistence of a prescription to sell drugs, (c) secured transactions with needful precautions taken to safeguard details about your personal identity and (d) presence of qualified pharmacists to dispel your doubts or queries you may have about the drugs prescribed to you.

Not stopping with these precautions, agencies like NABP have a process to validate the trustworthiness of online pharmacies. Upon adherence to the processes, NABP rewards a seal called as the verified internet pharmacy practice sites (also known as VIPPS). So it is needless to state you need to look for this safety seal before you place an order to purchase drugs from an online pharmacy.

Buying Viagra online

It is important to consult with your care giver (primary provider) before purchasing Viagra online. Once you have a prescription on hand, buying the blue pill online is a fairly easy process. As a first step, always choose an online pharmacy that bears the VIPPS seal on it. After choosing, input all needful information to register as a new buyer. If details about insurance are sought, add such details as well as the details needed to start payment. Soon after you send the prescription, it is checked for dosage and other details. Once these steps are done, you can get ready to receive Viagra delivered to your address in a matter of few days.

You need to be aware that pharmacies may have their own unique practices in processing the orders you place on them. Some pharmacies make it a point to contact you before packing Viagra for delivery at your doorstep.

Buying Viagra online without prescriptions

In some countries, drugs such as Viagra may be bought online without prescriptions. This is because pharmacies are controlled by nation-specific laws and not through overarching, global regulations. For instance, the 50mg form of sildenafil – popularly called as Viagra connect – is sold without a prescription in the United Kingdom. In other words, a prescription drug has changed to become a pharmacy medication. Hence, in the UK it is sold without the need for a prescription, solely by taking needful inputs from the pharmacist.

In any case, whenever you are buying Viagra online – without a prescription – exercise needful caution about the trustworthiness of the vending pharmacy. It is always recommended to speak with a licensed medical practitioner before clicking the “buy” button.

In sum, before placing an order with online pharmacies, check for VIPPS; understand if they need a prescription to process your order, and know if they have certified pharmacists on their rolls to dispel any doubts that you may have. On top of all this, ensure to talk to your treating doctor before buying Viagra through online pharmacies.

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