What Happens If You Take Viagra and You Don’t Need It?

a pile of blue pills on a yellow background

I have a friend who doesn’t have erectile dysfunction (ED) and takes Viagra recreationally. He says it helps him get diamond-hard erections when he needs them most and shortens post-ejaculatory refractory time.

But it’s important to know that viagra doesn’t increase your sex drive, and serious side effects can occur if you take too much.

Erectile dysfunction (ED)

Men with erectile dysfunction have long sought relief through drugs like Viagra (sildenafil), Levitra (vardenafil) and Cialis (tadalafil). These medications increase blood flow to the penis, resulting in a firmer, longer-lasting erection. But the drugs can also cause side effects, including headaches, flushing and sensitivity to light. Using them recreationally could lead to psychological dependency and may interfere with sexual functioning.

Taking ED medications as a performance enhancer is not recommended. This use is known as “taking Viagra to the party” or “whiskey dick.” Research has shown that ED drugs can boost sexual function in men without ED, but it isn’t intended for this purpose and can be dangerous.

Taking ED medication as a recreational drug can lead to psychological dependence, where the drug replaces sexual stimulation in a person’s life. This can interfere with sex and relationship satisfaction, and can even lead to physical problems such as priapism (a painful erection that lasts more than two hours). In addition, many people who take ED drugs recreationally aren’t getting sex because of psychological or emotional issues. Visiting a counselor can help address these issues.

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Headaches

Headaches are a common side effect of Viagra (sildenafil citrate) and other PDE-5 inhibitors used to treat erectile dysfunction. They’re caused by changes in blood flow. These medications increase blood flow to the penis, which helps men achieve and maintain an erection during sexual activity. But the drug can also affect blood vessels in other parts of the body. This increased blood flow may lead to headaches.

If you have mild head pain after taking a dose of Viagra, try drinking a glass of water or caffeinated beverage. You can also take a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Be sure to talk with your doctor before taking any over-the-counter drugs.

Some rare but serious side effects of Viagra include loss of vision and liver problems. These symptoms usually occur when you take a high dosage of the drug. If you have liver or kidney problems, your doctor may recommend a lower dose. You should also tell your doctor if you have hereditary retinitis pigmentosa, a condition that causes changes in the color of your eyes.

Flushing

While most mild side effects from Viagra go away on their own, some can be severe. If you experience serious side effects, call your doctor right away.

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Recreational Viagra, which is sold without a prescription, doesn’t have the same quality control as pharmaceutical-grade medication. A 2011 investigation by Pfizer Global Security6 found that most pills advertised as Viagra on the web were either fake, expired, or contaminated with other substances.

Viagra can lower your blood pressure, which could make you feel dizzy or lightheaded. If you have low blood pressure, your doctor may prescribe a lower dose than usual.

It’s also important not to take Viagra with illicit drugs such as poppers. Combining them can cause a dangerous drop in your blood pressure. Taking Viagra with certain medications, including some used to treat pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH)*, can also lower your blood pressure too much. These medications are called alpha-blockers.

Dizziness

All medicines can cause unwanted side effects, but these are usually mild and short-term. Headaches, flushing, and dizziness can often be eased by lying down, avoiding alcohol, and taking a pain reliever that’s safe for you.

Viagra can lower your blood pressure, and this could make you feel dizzy or faint. This is more likely if you take it with medications that affect blood pressure (like nitrates), alpha blockers, or riociguat (Adempas).

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A rare but serious side effect of Viagra is priapism (a long-lasting and painful erection). If this happens, seek immediate medical attention. This includes a trip to the emergency room, or calling 911.

If you have kidney or liver problems, you may need a lower dose of Viagra. This is because these conditions can interfere with how well your body gets rid of Viagra. You should also tell your doctor if you have had a heart problem, such as angina or a stroke, or if you’ve ever had an irregular heartbeat. This is because Viagra may raise your risk of these problems.

Chest pain

If you have liver or kidney problems, or take certain medications, you may have a higher risk of side effects from Viagra. Your doctor will help you decide if it’s safe to take. It’s not safe to take Viagra with nitrate medications (eg, nitroglycerin) because it can cause a dangerous drop in blood pressure. You should also avoid alcohol while taking Viagra; it can increase your risk of some of the side effects, like dizziness.

Occasionally, Viagra can cause a short-term decrease in your blood pressure. This effect is more likely if you have heart disease or take certain medications, including nitrates and alpha-blockers.

Rarely, Viagra can cause an allergic reaction in some people. If you have a severe allergic reaction, call 911 or your local emergency number right away.

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