What is Viagra?

Viagra is a medicine that can help men aged 18 years and over who have erectile dysfunction (ED). It works by improving bloodflow to the penis, which makes it easier for men living with erectile dysfunction to get erections and sustain them. This can improve the sex life of these men and their partners.

Viagra is a diamond-shaped blue pill, and doctors or clinicians can prescribe it in strengths of 25mg, 50mg and 100mg. Most doctors or clinicians will usually prescribe the 50mg tablet at first to patients who are just starting to take Viagra.

Viagra Connect 50mg* has come onto the market as the first over-the-counter erectile dysfunction treatment. Viagra must be prescribed, whereas Viagra Connect can be purchased from a pharmacist. You should always read the label before taking Viagra or Viagra Connect, and should only take it once in a 24-hour period.

Viagra Connect is available as an over-the-counter medicine at Boots and is also one of a number of oral ED treatments which are accessible via our Erectile Dysfunction Online Clinic. You’ll only be offered treatment through our clinic once you’ve completed an online consultation so one of our clinicians can check that Viagra Connect, or any other ED treatment, is suitable for you. We also offer access to Viagra 100mg through the online clinic.

The active ingredient in Viagra and Viagra Connect is sildenafil. Men can access Sildenafil – the generic version of Viagra – through our ED online clinic in 25mg, 50mg and 100mg strengths (subject to availability and clinician approval).

Sildenafil makes it easier for men to get and keep an erection which is hard enough for sex. It’s not an aphrodisiac, and can’t treat low libido. Men who take it must be sexually aroused to get an erection. When researching Viagra, watch out for any claims that Viagra will boost your sex drive or instantly arouse you. If you spot them, there’s a chance that Viagra and the website might not be legitimate and you could be putting your health at risk. 

Boots will always need you to answer questions before giving you access to Viagra or Viagra Connect. If you order with Boots, your consultation will be reviewed by a clinician who will decide if Viagra or Viagra Connect is suitable for you; if it’s not, you’ll be given advice on seeing your GP.


How does Viagra work?

Viagra works by relaxing the blood vessels in the penis, to help increase blood flow into it. This means that men living with erectile dysfunction can find it easier to maintain an erection hard enough for sex. The tablet is capable of working for up to four hours, with Viagra beginning to work around 30 to 60 minutes after it is first taken.
As it isn’t an aphrodisiac, it won’t work unless the man taking it is already sexually stimulated. Always read the leaflet included with your Viagra or Viagra Connect and take it as directed.


Possible side effects

Like any drug, Viagra can have side effects. Because Viagra affects bloodflow, common side effects include things like: 
•    headaches
•    dizziness
•    feeling flushed
•    an upset stomach or nausea
•    a stuffy or runny nose
•    changes in vision (eg blurred vision or a blue tinge to colours) 

You can find a full list of Viagra side effects by looking at the patient information leaflet, but if you experience any side effects that include loss of vision after taking Viagra, contact a healthcare professional immediately.

Priapism, a condition where an erection lasts longer than four hours, is a rare side effect that has been associated with Viagra. If you take Viagra and experience this, contact a doctor or call 111 immediately. An erection which lasts an excessive amount of time can permanently damage the penis unless treated quickly. Read the leaflet that comes with your Viagra to make sure you have the full information about your medicine.


How to safely take Viagra

You can take Viagra with or without food, but taking it after a high-fat meal could delay how quickly it works. Usually it takes between 30-60 minutes to work, but some men will find it takes a shorter or longer time to achieve an erection. 

Some people can’t take Viagra. People with heart and liver problems or have recently suffered a stroke, as well as those with inherited eye diseases or low blood pressure should avoid Viagra. It’s especially important to check if you’re taking medicines known as nitrates for chest pain, as combining these with Viagra could lead to dangerously low blood pressure. Other medicines which can affect how Viagra works include ‘alpha blockers’ for treating an enlarged prostate or high blood pressure. The patient information leaflet gives the full list of who Viagra isn't suitable for, but don’t worry; your suitability for treatment will be assessed by one of our clinicians upon completion of a short consultation through the ED online clinic.**

When completing the online consultation, it’s really important to be honest when you’re answering questions about your general health and your symptoms.

It’s also worth noting that eating grapefruit or drinking grapefruit juice can also have an effect on how the medicine works, so avoid grapefruit or grapefruit juice when taking Viagra. 


What’s the difference between strengths of Viagra?

Viagra comes in three different strengths of 25mg, 50mg and 100mg. Most men with erectile dysfunction will be prescribed 50mg, as the starter strength, and most men will find that this works for them – so long as Viagra is suitable for them in the first place. 

The 25mg strength is usually prescribed for men living with certain medical conditions or who are taking certain medication. It may also be suitable for those who have experienced side effects with the 50mg starter dose. The 100mg dose may be considered for men who find that the 50mg dose is not working for them as they would have hoped.

Our online clinic provides access to Viagra Connect (sildenafil 50mg) and Viagra 100mg. The 25mg dose is only available through the clinic as generic Sildenafil.  


What if Viagra doesn’t work for me?

You may have to try Viagra up to eight separate times for it to work as expected, so try to stay positive if it doesn’t work straight away. If after eight attempts it still isn’t working out for you, you could consider a higher strength or a different oral treatment. 

Although Viagra was one of the first drugs developed to treat erectile dysfunction, it’s not the only one available. There are a number of oral ED medicines available through the Boots Erectile Dysfunction Online Clinic, including Tadalafil, Cialis, Levitra and Spedra. All are subject to an online consultation and clinician approval. If Viagra hasn’t worked for you then it is unlikely that Sildenafil – the generic version of Viagra –will, as sildenafil is the active ingredient in Viagra.
It’s also worth noting that smoking, drinking alcohol or eating a heavy fatty meal before taking Viagra can affect how it works. 

There are other treatments available such as creams, injections and vacuum pumps. In some extreme cases, you and your doctor might decide that surgery is appropriate, but there are plenty of options for men living with erectile dysfunction.


What else should I know before taking Viagra?

Viagra should only be taken by men who have trouble getting and sustaining an erection which is hard enough for sex. It can’t increase sexual pleasure or delay orgasm and you need to be sexually stimulated in order for it to work.

Store Viagra sensibly, in a cool and dry place. Don’t take Viagra out of its packaging until you intend to take it, and no matter what strength you have been prescribed, only ever take one tablet in a 24-hour period.

You can take Viagra with food, but it won’t be as fast-acting if you have it with a high-fat meal. 

If you’re having erection problems, then make sure you do make an appointment to go and see your doctor to discuss your symptoms. Sometimes ED can be caused by an underlying health condition, such as diabetes or heart disease, so it’s important that the GP can check you over.

It’s believed 4.3 million men in the UK have frequently or occasionally lived with erectile dysfunction symptoms over the last 12 months. However, with Viagra available discreetly through trusted pharmacies, as well as other drugs, they have access to treatments that may make a real difference.

*Viagra Connect contains 50mg sildenafil and is sold under the supervision of a pharmacist and is subject to suitability assessment. For men aged 18 or over who have erectile dysfunction symptoms. Always read the label.

**Subject to stock availability and clinician approval. Charges apply.

Viagra Connect 50mg and Viagra 50mg
Viagra Connect 50mg works in the same was as Viagra 50mg. They contain the same active ingredient (sildenafil). Viagra Connect 50mg is available to buy as an over‐the‐counter medicine or through our Erectile Dysfunction Online Clinic. Whichever route you may choose to access Viagra Connect at Boots, you’ll still need to complete a consultation online or in store. A clinician or a pharmacist will approve whether the medicine is suitable for you.

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