What is the blue pill?

The ‘blue pill’ or ‘little blue pill’ is the nickname for the world’s most famous erectile dysfunction (ED) drug, Viagra. Diamond-shaped and blue in colour, this distinctive little tablet has been revolutionary in helping millions of men struggling with the symptoms of ED since its creation in 1998. 

Viagra’s story is one of chance. The blue pill was initially trialled by Pfizer as a possible treatment for high blood pressure and angina, but proved unsuccessful. Men taking part in the trials, however, reported increased erections after taking the blue pill, and the drug was subsequently patented by Pfizer and made available across the world. Viagra was the only drug of its type at the time, which is part of the reason that the blue pill became so famous and synonymous with ED. 


How does the blue pill work? 

Viagra works because it contains an ingredient called sildenafil citrate. Once taken, the sildenafil citrate inside the blue pill increases the blood flow to the penis, making it easier to get an erection hard enough for sex. It usually takes between 30 minutes and an hour for the blue pill to become effective, so it’s advised that men take Viagra around half an hour before they plan to have sex. 

Viagra’s effects will usually last for around four to five hours. It’s important to remember that Viagra will only work if you’re sexually stimulated, and isn’t guaranteed to give you an erection under any circumstances. You can find out more about the blue pill by looking at our Viagra article.  


How do I access the blue pill?

Viagra is a prescription-only medicine, meaning it can only be prescribed by a qualified healthcare professional. This can include a GP or an approved online service like the Boots Erectile Dysfunction Online Clinic (subject to an online consultation, availability and clinician approval). You should never take more than one Viagra tablet in a 24-hour period.

You can access Viagra Connect, which is an over the counter version of Viagra that works in a similar way, by completing a short questionnaire in a pharmacy to ensure that it is suitable for you. Contains sildenafil. Always read the label.  You’ll be asked a few questions to make sure that the medicine is suitable for you and be able to either pick your tablets up in-store or have them delivered to your house free of charge. 


What else should I know about Viagra? 

Viagra is only indicated for men aged 18 or over. What’s more, the blue pill, (like all other drugs), has some side effects that you should be aware of before considering it as a treatment for ED. The most common side effects (may affect up to one in 10 people) include: 
• Nausea
• Facial flushing and hot flushes
• Indigestion
• Colour tinge to vision
• Blurred vision
• Visual disturbance
• Stuffy nose
• Dizziness

Although these are the side effects you’re most likely to encounter, they aren’t the only ones. You can find a list of all of Viagra’s side effects by reading the patient information leaflet

There’s some health conditions which might make the blue pill unsuitable for you. You shouldn’t take Viagra at all if you:
• Have had an allergic reaction to Sildenafil or any of the inactive ingredients in Viagra (you can find a full list of these by viewing the patient information leaflet) 
• Have a rare inherited eye disease like retinitis pigmentosa
• Are taking certain medicines including those called nitrates taken for pain in your chest
• Have low blood pressure
• Have recently had a heart attack or a stroke
• Have a serious liver or heart problem

There are also some other health conditions in which Viagra can be used, but should be used with caution. 


Is there anything else I can use to treat ED? 

Although the blue pill is the most famous treatment for ED, it’s not the only one. There are a number of other oral medicines you can access through the Boots Erectile Dysfunction Online Clinic, including Cialis, Tadalafil, Levitra and Spedra (subject to an online consultation, availability and clinician approval). These  contain different ingredients to Viagra, and might be less or more suitable for you depending on factors such as how quick you want the tablets to work, how often you have sex and  your health and lifestyle choices. 

Another option for people with ED is Viagra Connect, which is an over-the-counter treatment available in pharmacies that works the same way as Viagra. It also contains sildenafil. Whilst you won’t need a prescription to access Viagra Connect, you’ll have to complete a short questionnaire so that the pharmacist can make sure that the treatment is suitable for you. 

Oral medicines aren’t the only way to treat ED either. There’s a whole range of other treatments outside of the Boots Erectile Dysfunction Online Clinic you might want to consider, including a cream, injections, therapy and more. Please remember that treatments such as creams or injections will only be available via prescription and not the online clinic. 

It’s also important that you do go and speak to your GP about your ED symptoms. Sometimes ED can be caused by an underlying health issue, such as diabetes or heart disease, so it’s important that your GP can check you out. Treatment of any underlying health condition may see your ED symptoms ease or disappear. 

† Erectile dysfunction medicine without a prescription. Subject to stock availability & pharmacist approval. Contains sildenafil. Always read the label ​​​​​​​