Erectile dysfunction is a common medical condition among men. It can have an adverse impact on a man’s life. Habits such as smoking and substance abuse; medical conditions such as diabetes, cardiac problems, etc. are known as its likely causes. Drugs like sildenafil are taken to treat this medical condition. But, how much of this drug is safe? A good understanding of the safe levels of intake of sildenafil can help.

Erectile dysfunction is a condition wherein a man finds it difficult to maintain a rigid and erect penis during sexual activity. Many factors including age of men, mental health, overweight (turning obese), leading a sedentary lifestyle, injuries or surgeries in the pelvic region, etc. are found to trigger this condition in men.

Medical research has identified a very close link between inability to sustain an erection and age of men. It was initially thought that aged men may have it; but sooner it was found that men of much younger age – even those in their 20s and 30s – may also have problems in maintaining an erection.

On the whole, this condition has been diagnosed in more than 15% of men aged between 21 to 74 years. More than 23% of men with this condition are in the age group of 40 years or less. In terms of severity of this condition, young men – in their 20s and 30s – have reported to have it at a far more acute level than even men aged above 60 years.

Ways to diagnose if you are having this condition

The most proven way to find if you have this condition is to have a consultation with your physician. This is actually the starting point of diagnosis. Your physician will make you undergo some tests. The most common tests are scan of your penis, urinalysis, overnight checking of erection, tests done on your blood samples, etc. Of all these tests, scan of the penis helps understand the quantum of blood flow to your penile area. Some physicians also insist on your undertaking a test to check your mental health; this is required because mental health is critical to your sexual wellbeing.

Treatment for this medical condition includes intake of drugs such Viagra (sildenafil), Cialis (tadalafil), etc. Sildenafil – being the first of its kind in this genre – has gained huge level of popularity among men all over the world.

Before getting to know further on sildenafil and its safe dosage levels, you may need to understand what happens while you are having an erection. Every time you are sexually stimulated, more than normal level of blood rushes into your penis and the areas surrounding it. The additional supply of blood is essential to have a stiff erection as well as a longstanding one – at least till you complete a sexual performance. Soon after having an intercourse, the extra blood leaves your penis; the result is, your penis returns back to its normal size.

In general, your cardiac muscles work fast and hard every time you have a sexual intercourse. This is one reason why frequent sex is not recommended for people with cardiac health conditions such as myocardial infarction, cardiac attacks, hypertension, etc.

Hence prior to taking medications for erectile dysfunction, you need to check with your physician about your cardiac health. Also, if you notice pain in your chest, nausea or giddiness while performing a sexual act, you are advised not to continue having sex. You also need to inform your physician as early as possible about experiencing these symptoms – especially while you engage in a sexual activity.

Sildenafil and male impotence

Male impotence can be treated with a combination of methods. The commonly used methods are prescription of medications, employment of penile pumps, vascular surgeries, penile implants (done through a surgery), etc. Medications prescribed to supply additional blood to your penis are Viagra (sildenafil), Stendra (avanafil), Levitra (vardenafil), Cialis (tadalafil), etc.

Like most of the other drugs, sildenafil also belongs to a genre of medications known as phosphodiesterase type-5 (PDE-5) inhibitors. PDE-5 exerts a lot of control on the muscles of your blood vessels. The main function of PDE-5 is to contract your blood vessels. As mentioned, a relaxed or an enlarged blood vessel is a prerequisite to send additional quantity of blood to your penis.

Sildenafil stops PDE-5 from doing its work; it is done by halting its further reactions, and thus make blood vessels – especially in the penis – remain relaxed. When your blood vessels in the penis stand relaxed, added supply of blood reaches the intended region and thus you have an elongated spell of erection.

Taking too much of sildenafil

The standard powers of sildenafil are 25 mg, 50 mg and 100 mg. Men are usually prescribed a 50 mg pill, and advised to pop it at least 45 minutes ahead of their sexual activity. The maximum dosage level is never to exceed 100 mg; also, the maximum dosage frequency is one pill per day. If you have taken too much of sildenafil, the likely aftereffects are passing out, faster heartbeats, pain in your chest and nausea. The other serious side effects of a likely overdose of sildenafil are decrease in your blood pressure, prolonged spells of erection (lasting for more than three to four hours), etc. In some very rare instances, death has been reported (though this is extremely uncommon). You may also be prone to risks of cardiac attacks.

If your erection is lasting for a longer time, it is not a good sign. This medical condition is called as priapism. This is one serious side effect of sildenafil. Severe damages and impairment may occur to your penile muscles if your erection lasts for more than four or five hours. The damages many not stop with the muscles and tissues alone; in some stray instances, blood vessels adjoining the penile region have also been impaired. So, if you experience any of the above side effects or if you have a persistent tingling sensation in your jaw, arms or neck, you may need to contact your physician at the earliest possible time. You can also contact the nearest poison control center for quick treatment. However, if you are experiencing a likely loss of memory or consciousness, call emergency helpline immediately.

Always remember the usual or common side effects of taking sildenafil are backache, headache, blurring of vision, soreness, indigestion, etc.

If you take sildenafil with a heavy meal (especially with high amounts of fat in your meal), ability of your body to absorb it gets reduced considerably. Research reveals that a single dose is enough to serve as a remedy for erectile dysfunction, as and when it is needed. You need to remember that the half-life (final) for sildenafil is 4 to 5 hours. Its low half-life helps prevent needless accumulation of its traces, even with daily dosages. You are advised to remember not to consume sildenafil – regardless of its concentration – more than once in a day.

If you do not planning to have a sexual intercourse every day, you must not consume sildenafil daily. Due to its relatively short half-life, there are hardly any remnants of the drug in your system after, say four or five hours. Hence, it is a misconception to think intake of sildenafil way too ahead of your sexual performance will result in persistent erections. To keep matters simple, one pill is advised an hour ahead of your sexual intercourse; this dose is taken only by those who wish to have a sexual intercourse within an hour’s time.

Intake of sildenafil – When to take it and what are the likely side effects?

Once you have popped the blue pill, it might take about 30 to 45 minutes for the effects to show up. Hence, you are required to take it in about 45 minutes before your sexual activity. Sildenafil has the powers to retain your erection for as high as even upto 2 hours. On the whole, your body may completely flush all traces of sildenafil in less than eight hours.

If you are already taking other drugs, you may need to exert needful caution prior to taking sildenafil. The blue pill interacts with nitrates, alpha-blockers, beta-blockers, medications taken for the treatment of high blood pressure, CYP3A4 inhibitors, antidepressants, etc. You are hence advised to talk to your physician about likely drug interactions – i.e., apart from those listed above. Interactions can also occur if the blue pill is taken along with some foods.

So, tell your physician about the medications you are currently taking. Never leave out non-prescription drugs, OTC medications – if any, dietary supplements including vitamins, minerals, etc. Also, ensure to tell your treating physician about intake of herbal supplements – if any, caffeine, habits such as smoking, drinking of alcohol, etc.

Things you need to know about sildenafil

This drug selectively inhibits the action of PDE-5. The drug is a known vasodilator (an agent that can relax your blood vessels to allow more blood to flow through them). Sildenafil is the same as Viagra; the latter being the commercial name for the substance. You need to know that the generic version of Viagra – i.e., sildenafil – has been launched in the United States by the end of 2017. The advantage of a generic equivalent of Viagra is it is much cheaper – on the price front – than the brand itself. Also, the generic equivalent presents with an added advantage of being easier to purchase over online pharmacies – especially if you are living in the UK.

So, is sildenafil safe?

There are multiple clinical research findings to substantiate the safety aspects of sildenafil. However, if the patient is experiencing a drop in blood pressure or has had a recent cardiac attack or stokes, this drug is not recommended for them. It is also not clear if people with liver dysfunction can take this pill. You are hence advised to consult a qualified clinical practitioner if you have any of these aforesaid medical conditions.

You are also not advised to operate any heavy equipment or perform activities needing high level of mental agility – such as driving, etc. – soon after consuming sildenafil. This is mainly because of nausea, giddiness and dizziness that are reported as common side effects of the drug.

Sildenafil is in fact considered as one of the safest PDE5- inhibiting medications. This is because of its low half-life period and its relatively non-intensive side effects. To stay in the safer side, avoid taking sildenafil if you have any known allergies or hypersensitivity to it.

Always remember that it is extremely unsafe to take sildenafil along with other PDE5-inhibiting drugs such as tadalafil. Such co-administration can lead to the same adverse effects equivalent to an overdose of sildenafil. Also, if you are taking antidepressants or any other drugs to reduce your blood pressure, it is not safe to consume sildenafil along with such drugs. Especially, if you are taking any alpha-blocking drugs, tell your prescribing physician about your regular intake of such blockers. It is equally unsafe to co-administer nitrates or any other nitric oxide supplying drugs. The most common nitric oxide supplying medications include nitroprusside, amyl, nitrite / nitrate, nitrate esters (widely used for treating cardiac disorders, angina, infarctions of myocardial muscles), etc. Why? The co-administration of nitrates with sildenafil can result in a drastic drop in your blood pressure levels. To stay safe, never consume any nitrate-based drugs for upto 30 hours – i.e., 30 hours from the time of your last dose of sildenafil.

In sum, sildenafil is packed in strengths of 25 mg, 50 mg and 100 mg. Men are usually asked to take a 50 mg pill. They are also advised to take it at least 45 minutes to one hour prior to their sexual performance. Maximum permitted dosage level is 100 mg. The maximum allowed frequency of dose is 1 pill per day.

If you have taken an overdose of sildenafil, the likely side effects are quicker heartbeats, pain in your chest, nausea, loss of consciousness (preceded by giddiness or dizziness), etc. Other adverse effects of a possible overdose are prolonged periods of erection (for upto even four to five hours), drop in your blood pressure (hypotension), etc. In some very uncommon instances an overdose of sildenafil has resulted in death. But, remember this is an extremely unlikely and a truly rare event.

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