Should I Take Viagra With Alcohol

Is it safe to take Viagra with alcohol?

It is likely safe to take Viagra with alcohol if you drink in moderation and have consulted with your healthcare provider. However, people who abuse alcohol (more than 15 drinks a week) and take Viagra for recreational (non-medical) purposes may have a higher risk of side effects including facial flushing, headaches, chest pain, changes in vision, and lightheadedness.

Written by Chimene Richa, MD

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Disclaimer

If you have any medical questions or concerns, please talk to your healthcare provider. The articles on Health Guide are underpinned by peer-reviewed research and information drawn from medical societies and governmental agencies. However, they are not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

If you’re currently pouring yourself a drink and wondering if it’s safe to combine Viagra and alcohol, here’s what you need to know: It is likely safe to take Viagra with alcohol if you are drinking in moderation and have consulted with your healthcare provider.

However, there are some strings attached to that statement. Let’s dive a bit deeper into how alcohol and Viagra (generic name: sildenafil citrate) affect the body and when it’s best to pump the brakes on mixing sildenafil and alcohol.

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Can you take Viagra with alcohol?

Many men drink alcohol on the days they plan to use Viagra (see Important Safety Information), commonly known as the “little blue pill.” As long as your alcohol use is not excessive (and have cleared it with your healthcare provider), it is likely safe for you to have a glass or two of wine (or the equivalent serving of beer or spirits) while taking sildenafil, or its brand-name, Viagra (DailyMed, 2020).

Side effects of Viagra and alcohol

People who abuse alcohol (more than 15 drinks a week) and take Viagra recreationally may have a higher risk of side effects (Kim, 2019).

One study showed that over 45% of men who took Viagra with alcohol for recreational purposes had a higher risk of side effects, including facial flushing, headaches, chest pain, changes in vision, and lightheadedness (Kim, 2019).

How does Viagra (sildenafil) work?

Grapefruit juice, sildenafil, and alcohol

The type of alcohol you drink and what you mix it with may also matter. A study looking at men who drank red wine and took Viagra showed no clinically significant interaction with the combination (Leslie, 2004). However, if you prefer grapefruit juice with your cocktails, there may be an interaction with sildenafil.

Viagra is broken down by the liver, and grapefruit juice may affect how well the liver can accomplish this. Researchers looked at men who took Viagra with grapefruit juice and found that the combination can increase the amount of the drug circulating in your body (Jetter, 2002).

While this is not usually a dangerous outcome, higher levels of Viagra may increase the risk of common side effects like headaches, flushing, or low blood pressure (DailyMed, 2020). To be safe, you should avoid taking Viagra with grapefruit juice and consider another mixer if you’re planning on combining sildenafil and alcohol.

Alcohol and erectile dysfunction

Erectile dysfunction (ED) tends to affect men in older age groups, especially those aged 70 years and over. However, ED does not only happen in old age—it can also occur in younger men. Lifestyle factors can also increase the risk of developing this condition. These include obesity, smoking, lack of physical activity, and excessive alcohol consumption (AUA, 2018).

A common term for ED after drinking alcohol is “whiskey dick.” The effects of alcohol on a man’s erectile function will vary. In general, alcohol acts as a depressant. It can cause erection problems by negatively affecting some of the pathways involved in sexual arousal, blood circulation, and nerve sensitivity—all of which need to be functioning properly to have a satisfying sexual desire l encounter (Arackal, 2007).

For example, alcohol intoxication can slow the signals between the brain and the penis responsible for getting an erection. Drinking alcohol can also lead to dehydration, which reduces blood flow and impacts your ability to get an erection.

How much sildenafil and alcohol is too much?

If you are going to consume alcohol while taking Viagra, be sure to do so responsibly. Limit your alcohol intake to 1–2 drinks per day. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the amount of alcohol in a standard drink is one of the following (CDC, 2020):

  • 12 ounces of beer (5% alcohol content)
  • 8 ounces of malt liquor (7% alcohol content)
  • 5 ounces of wine (12% alcohol content)
  • 1.5 ounces or a “shot” of 80-proof (40% alcohol content) distilled spirits or liquor (e.g., gin, rum, vodka, whiskey)

Drink water or nonalcoholic beverages in between the alcoholic drinks to prevent dehydration. Know your limits, and be sure to stop drinking alcohol when you start to feel intoxicated.

Alcoholism: signs, causes, and treatments

And, for those on certain prescription drugs like nitrates or alpha-blockers, do not take Viagra, even without alcohol, before speaking with your healthcare provider as negative drug interactions and serious side effects can occur when these are combined with Viagra.

Mixing Viagra and alcohol: the takeaway

The bottom line is that you don’t have to completely give up alcohol if you’re taking Viagra. You can still safely have a drink, but remember that alcohol can sometimes make it more difficult for you to get an erection. And if you have more questions about mixing sildenafil and alcohol, or are curious about other ED medications like Cialis (generic name tadalafil; see Important Safety Information) or Levitra (vardenafil), contact your healthcare provider.

References

  1. American Urology Association (AUA). (2018). Erectile Dysfunction (ED): Symptoms, Diagnosis & Treatment. (2018). Retrieved November 24, 2021 from https://www.urologyhealth.org/urologic-conditions/erectile-dysfunction(ed)
  2. Arackal, B. S., & Benegal, V. (2007). Prevalence of sexual dysfunction in male subjects with alcohol dependence. Indian Journal of Psychiatry, 49(2), 109–112. Doi: 10.4103/0019-5545.33257. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2917074/
  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (2020). Facts about moderate drinking. Retrieved November 24, 2021 from https://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/fact-sheets/moderate-drinking.htm
  4. DailyMed. (2020). Viagra- sildenafil citrate tablet, film coated. Retrieved on November 24, 2021, from https://dailymed.nlm.nih.gov/dailymed/lookup.cfm?setid=a2a9f459-e692-4e85-83b0-a35fbf35e91b#section-7.5
  5. Jetter, A., Kinzig-Schippers, M., Walchner-Bonjean, M., Hering, U., Bulitta, J., & Schreiner, P. et al. (2002). Effects of grapefruit juice on the pharmacokinetics of sildenafil. Clinical Pharmacology & Therapeutics, 71(1), 21-29. doi: 10.1067/mcp.2002.121236. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11823754/
  6. Kim, J., Oh, J., Park, D., Hong, Y., & Yu, Y. (2019). Influence of Alcohol on Phosphodiesterase 5 inhibitors Use in Middle- to Old-Aged Men: A Comparative Study of Adverse Events. Sexual Medicine, 7(4), 425-432. doi: 10.1016/j.esxm.2019.07.004. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31444051/
  7. Leslie, S., Atkins, G., Oliver, J., & Webb, D. (2004). No adverse hemodynamic interaction between sildenafil and red wine. Clinical Pharmacology & Therapeutics, 76(4), 365-370. doi: 10.1016/j.clpt.2004.07.005. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15470336/

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Important Safety Information for Sildenafil (Viagra)

What are the most important things I need to know about VIAGRA® (sildenafil citrate) 25 mg, 50 mg, and 100 mg tablets and generic VIAGRA®?

Discuss your health with your doctor to ensure that you are healthy enough for sex. If you experience chest pain, dizziness, or nausea during sex, seek immediate emergency medical attention.

  • VIAGRA® and generic VIAGRA® can cause serious side effects. Serious, but rare, side effects include:
    • an erection that will not go away (priapism). If you have an erection that lasts more than 4 hours, seek emergency medical attention right away. If it is not treated right away, priapism can permanently damage your penis.
    • sudden vision loss in one or both eyes. Sudden vision loss in one or both eyes can be a sign of a serious eye problem called non-arteritic anterior ischemic optic neuropathy (NAION). Stop taking VIAGRA and call your healthcare provider right away if you have any sudden vision loss
    • sudden hearing decrease or hearing loss. Some people may also have ringing in their ears (tinnitus) or dizziness. If you have these symptoms, stop taking VIAGRA and contact a doctor right away

    Who should not take VIAGRA® or generic VIAGRA®?

    Do not take VIAGRA® or generic VIAGRA® if you:

    • Take any medicines called nitrates, often prescribed for chest pain, or guanylate cyclase stimulators like Adempas (riociguat) for pulmonary hypertension. Your blood pressure could drop to an unsafe level
    • Are allergic to sildenafil, as contained in VIAGRA® and REVATIO®, or any of the ingredients in VIAGRA® or generic VIAGRA® tablets.
    • Are a women or a child

    When should I call my primary provider?

    Call your primary provider right away if you:

    • Have an erection that lasts longer than 4 hours
    • Experience a sudden loss of vision in one or both eyes
    • Experience a sudden decrease in or loss of hearing
    • Experience chest pain, dizziness, or nausea during sex
    • Take too much Viagra or sildenafil citrate

    If you are experiencing a medical emergency, call 911 or seek immediate medical attention.

    What are the most common side effects of VIAGRA® and generic VIAGRA®?

    The most common side effects are:

    • headache
    • flushing
    • upset stomach
    • abnormal vision, such as changes in color vision (such as having a blue color tinge) and blurred vision
    • stuffy or runny nose
    • back pain
    • muscle pain
    • nausea
    • dizziness
    • rash

    What should I tell my Roman-affiliated provider before taking VIAGRA® and generic VIAGRA®?

    Before you take VIAGRA® or generic VIAGRA® , tell your healthcare provider if you:

    • Have or have had heart problems such as a heart attack,irregular heartbeat, angina, chest pain, narrowing of the aortic valve, or heart failure
    • Have had heart surgery within the last 6 months
    • Have pulmonary hypertension
    • Have had a stroke
    • Have low blood pressure, or high blood pressure that is not controlled
    • Have a deformed penis shape
    • Have had an erection that lasted for more than 4 hours
    • Have problems with your blood cells such as sickle cell anemia, multiple myeloma, or leukemia
    • Have retinitis pigmentosa, a rare genetic (runs in families) eye disease
    • Have ever had severe vision loss, including an eye problem called NAION
    • Have bleeding problems
    • Have or have had stomach or intestinal ulcers
    • Have liver problems
    • Have kidney problems or are having kidney dialysis
    • Have any other medical conditions

    Tell your healthcare provider about all the medicines you take, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements.

    VIAGRA may affect the way other medicines work, and other medicines may affect the way VIAGRA works, causing side effects.

    Especially tell your healthcare provider if you take any of the following:

    • Medicines called nitrates
    • Medicines called guanylate cyclase stimulators such as Adempas® (riociguat)
    • Medicines called alpha-blockers such as Hytrin® (terazosin HCl), Flomax® (tamsulosin HCl), Cardura® (doxazosin mesylate), Minipress® (prazosin HCl), Uroxatral® (alfuzosin HCl), Jalyn® (dutasteride and tamsulosin HCl), or Rapaflo® (silodosin). Alpha-blockers are sometimes prescribed for prostate problems or high blood pressure. In some patients, the use of VIAGRA® with alpha-blockers can lead to a drop in blood pressure or to fainting
    • Medicines called HIV protease inhibitors, such as ritonavir (Norvir®), indinavir sulfate (Crixivan®), saquinavir (Fortovase® or Invirase®), or atazanavir sulfate (Reyataz®)
    • Oral antifungal medicines, such as ketoconazole (Nizoral®) and itraconazole (Sporanox®)
    • Antibiotics, such as clarithromycin (Biaxin®), telithromycin (Ketek®), or erythromycin
    • Other medicines that treat high blood pressure
    • Other medicines or treatments for ED
    • VIAGRA® contains sildenafil, which is the same medicine found in another drug called REVATIO®. REVATIO® is used to treat a rare disease called pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH). VIAGRA® should not be used with REVATIO® or with other PAH treatments containing sildenafil or any other PDE5 inhibitors (such as Adcirca [tadalafil])

    Withholding or providing inaccurate information about your health and medical history in order to obtain treatment may result in harm, including, in some cases, death.

    What is the FDA-approved use of VIAGRA® and generic VIAGRA®?

    VIAGRA® (sildenafil citrate) is prescription medicine used to treat erectile dysfunction (ED).

    Roman-affiliated doctors may prescribe VIAGRA® or generic VIAGRA® for the treatment of premature ejaculation (PE), if they believe in their medical judgment that it is an appropriate course of treatment. While this is not an FDA-approved use of the drug, the American Urological Association has included the use of sildenafil citrate in the treatment of PE in its Guideline on the Pharmacologic Management of Premature Ejaculation.

    You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription products to the FDA. Visit www.fda.gov/medwatch or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

    Please see the full Prescribing Information for complete safety information.

    Product names referenced herein are trademarks of their respective owners.

    Important Safety Information for Tadalafil (Cialis)

    What Is The Most Important Information I Should Know About CIALIS® (tadalafil) and generic CIALIS®?

    • CIALIS® and generic CIALIS® can cause serious side effects. Serious, but rare, side effects include:
      • An erection that won’t go away (priapism). If you get an erection that lasts more than 4 hours, get medical help right away. Priapism must be treated as soon as possible or lasting damage can happen to your penis, including the inability to have erections.
      • Changes in vision. Color vision changes, such as seeing a blue tinge (shade) to objects or having difficulty telling the difference between the colors blue and green.
      • Sudden decrease or loss of vision. In rare instances, men taking PDE5 inhibitors (oral erectile dysfunction medicines, including CIALIS® and generic CIALIS®) reported a sudden decrease or loss of vision in one or both eyes. It is uncertain whether PDE5 inhibitors directly cause the vision loss. If you experience sudden decrease or loss of vision, stop taking PDE5 inhibitors, including CIALIS® and generic CIALIS®, and call a healthcare provider right away.
      • Sudden loss or decrease in hearing. Sudden loss or decrease in hearing, sometimes with ringing in the ears and dizziness, has been rarely reported in people taking PDE5 inhibitors, including CIALIS® and generic CIALIS®. It is not possible to determine whether these events are related directly to the PDE5 inhibitors, to other diseases or medications, to other factors, or to a combination of factors. If you experience these symptoms, stop taking CIALIS® and generic CIALIS® and contact a healthcare provider right away.
      • ED is a condition where the penis does not fill with enough blood to harden and expand when a man is sexually excited, or when he cannot keep an erection. A man who has trouble getting or keeping an erection should see his healthcare provider for help if the condition bothers him.
      • CIALIS® and generic CIALIS® help increase blood flow to the penis and may help men with ED get and keep an erection satisfactory for sexual activity. Once a man has completed sexual activity, blood flow to his penis decreases, and his erection goes away. Some form of sexual stimulation is needed for an erection to happen with CIALIS® or generic CIALIS®.
      • CIALIS® and generic CIALIS® do not:
        • Cure ED
        • Increase a man’s sexual desire
        • Protect a man or his partner from sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV. Speak to your healthcare provider about ways to guard against sexually transmitted diseases.
        • Serve as a male form of birth control
        • Take CIALIS® or generic CIALIS® exactly as your healthcare provider prescribes it. Your healthcare provider will prescribe the dose that is right for you. Do not change your dose or the way you take CIALIS® or generic CIALIS® without talking to your healthcare provider.

        Who Should Not Take CIALIS® or generic CIALIS®?

        Do not take CIALIS® or generic CIALIS® if you:

        • Have severe liver disease. Tell your doctor if you have mild to moderate liver disease as you may need dosage reductions.
        • Have severe kidney disease. Tell your doctor if you have mild to moderate kidney disease as you may need dosage reductions
        • Take any medicines called “nitrates”
        • Use recreational drugs called “poppers” like amyl nitrite and butyl nitrite
        • Take any medicines called guanylate cyclase stimulators, such as riociguat
        • Are allergic to CIALIS®, tadalafil or ADCIRCA®, or any of its ingredients

        When should I call my primary provider?

        Call your primary provider right away if you:

        • Have an erection that lasts longer than 4 hours
        • Experience a sudden loss of vision in one or both of your eyes
        • Experience a sudden decrease or loss hearing
        • Take too much CIALIS® or generic CIALIS®
        • Have an allergic reaction to CIALIS® or generic CIALIS®
        • Symptoms of an allergic reaction may include:
        • Rash
        • Hives
        • Swelling of the lips, tongue, or throat
        • Difficulty breathing or swallowing

        Call your healthcare provider or get help right away if you have any of the symptoms of an allergic reaction listed above.

        If you are experiencing a medical emergency, call 911 or seek immediate medical attention.

        What Should I Tell My Roman-affiliated Provider Before Taking CIALIS® and generic CIALIS®?

        Tell your Roman-affiliated provider about all your medical problems, including if you:

        • Have heart problems such as angina, heart failure, irregular heartbeats, or have had a heart attack. Ask your healthcare provider if it is safe for you to have sexual activity. You should not take CIALIS® and generic CIALIS® if your healthcare provider has told you not to have sexual activity because of your health problems.
        • Have pulmonary hypertension
        • Have low blood pressure or have high blood pressure that is not controlled
        • Have had a stroke
        • Have liver problems
        • Have kidney problems or require dialysis
        • Have retinitis pigmentosa, a rare genetic (runs in families) eye disease
        • Have ever had severe vision loss, including a condition called NAION
        • Have stomach or intestinal ulcers
        • Have a bleeding problem
        • Have a deformed penis shape or Peyronie’s disease
        • Have had an erection that lasted more than 4 hours
        • Have blood cell problems such as sickle cell anemia, multiple myeloma, or leukemia

        Tell your healthcare provider about all the medicines you take including prescription and non-prescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements.

        Especially tell your healthcare provider if you take any of the following:

        • Medicines called nitrates
        • Medicines called guanylate cyclase stimulators, such as riociguat (Adempas®), used to treat pulmonary hypertension
        • Medicines called alpha blockers. These include Hytrin® (terazosin HCl), Flomax® (tamsulosin HCl), Cardura® (doxazosin mesylate), Minipress® (prazosin HCl), Uroxatral® (alfuzosin HCl), 4 Jalyn® (dutasteride and tamsulosin HCl) or Rapaflo® (silodosin). Alpha-blockers are sometimes prescribed for prostate problems or high blood pressure. If CIALIS® or generic CIALIS® is taken with certain alpha blockers, your blood pressure could suddenly drop. You could get dizzy or faint.
        • Other medicines to treat high blood pressure (hypertension)
        • Medicines called HIV protease inhibitors, such as ritonavir (Norvir® , Kaletra® )
        • Oral antifungals such as ketoconazole (Nizoral® ), itraconazole (Sporanox® )
        • Antibiotics such as clarithromycin (Biaxin® ), telithromycin (Ketek® ), erythromycin (several brand names exist. Please consult your healthcare provider to determine if you are taking this medicine).
        • Other medicines or treatments for ED.
        • Tadalafil is also marketed as ADCIRCA® for the treatment of pulmonary arterial hypertension. Do not take both CIALIS® or generic CIALIS® and ADCIRCA®. Do not take sildenafil citrate (Revatio®, Viagra®) with CIALIS® or generic CIALIS®.

        Withholding or providing inaccurate information about your health and medical history in order to obtain treatment may result in harm, including, in some cases, death.

        What are the most common side effects of CIALIS® or generic CIALIS®?

        The most common side effects with CIALIS® and generic CIALIS® are:

        • Headache
        • Indigestion
        • Back pain
        • Muscle aches
        • Flushing
        • Stuffy or runny nose

        What is the FDA-approved Use of CIALIS® and generic CIALIS®?

        CIALIS® and generic CIALIS® are prescription medicines used to treat erectile dysfunction (ED), symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), or both.

        Roman-affiliated doctors may prescribe CIALIS® for the treatment of premature ejaculation (PE), if they believe in their medical judgment that it is an appropriate course of treatment.

        You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription products to the FDA. Visit www.fda.gov/medwatch or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

        Please see the full Prescribing Information for complete safety information.