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Viagra Side Effects

Viagra is the most popular medication for erectile dysfunction, and is safe and effective for most men. However, it can cause side effects for less than 2% of men who use it. These side effects usually aren’t serious and most go away after a few hours.

If you’re worried about getting side effects from Viagra, we have a few tips for keeping your risk low and a doctor can help you find the right dose for you.

Last reviewed: 23/12/2020 by Dr Simran Deo

Contents

What are the side effects of Viagra?

Common side effects (affect up to 1 in 10 people who use Viagra):

  • Nausea (feeling sick
  • Facial flushing (face turning red)
  • Hot flush (sudden feeling of heat in your upper body)
  • Indigestion
  • Your vision changing colour
  • Blurred vision
  • Visual disturbances
  • Stuffy nose
  • Dizziness
  • Vomiting (throwing up)
  • Skin rash
  • Eye irritation
  • Bloodshot or red eyes
  • Eye pain
  • Seeing flashes of light
  • Thing looking brighter than normal
  • Light sensitivity
  • Watery eyes
  • A pounding heartbeat
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • High blood pressure
  • Low blood pressure
  • Muscle pain
  • Feeling sleepy
  • A reduced sense of touch
  • Vertigo (feeling things are moving or spinning around)
  • A ringing in your ears
  • Dry mouth
  • Blocked or stuffy sinuses
  • Inflammation of the lining of the nose (symptoms include runny nose, sneezing and a stuffy nose)
  • Pain at the top of your stomach
  • Gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (acid reflux, symptoms include heartburn)
  • Blood in urine (pee)
  • Pain in the arms or legs
  • Nosebleed
  • Feeling hot
  • Feeling tired
  • Fainting
  • Stroke
  • Heart attack
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Temporary decreased blood flow to parts of the brain
  • Feeling of tightening of the throat
  • A numb mouth
  • Bleeding at the back of the eye
  • Double vision
  • Reduced sharpness of vision
  • Abnormal sensation (strange feeling) in the eye
  • Swelling of the eye or eyelid
  • Seeing small particles or spots in your vision
  • Seeing halos (rings of colour) around lights,
  • Dilation of the pupil of the eye (your pupil looking bigger)
  • Discolouration (colour change) of the white part of your eye
  • Penile bleeding
  • Blood in semen
  • A dry nose
  • Swelling of the inside of the nose
  • Feeling irritable
  • Having trouble hearing or losing hearing completely

When side effects are an emergency

If you get any of the following serious side effects, or signs of an allergic reaction, you should get emergency medical help by calling 111 or 999 or see the NHS page on emergency medical services.

  • Serious side effects:
  • An allergic reaction:
  • Sudden wheezing or chest tightness
  • Trouble breathing or dizziness
  • Swelling of the eyelids, face, lips, or tongue
  • Chest pain
  • Ongoing painful erections
  • Vision getting worse or loss of vision
  • Serious skin reactions:
  • Severe peeling and swelling
  • Blistering around the mouth, genitals, and eyes
  • Fever

Does Viagra cause blood pressure problems?

Viagra can cause changes in blood pressure for some men, and both high and low blood pressure are listed as uncommon side effects of taking Viagra. Studies show that Viagra does drop blood pressure in men who take it, whether they already have blood pressure problems or not. This drop is considered to be ‘clinically insignificant’, which means it’s not going to cause health problems for most men.

This effect Viagra has on blood pressure is not surprising since it was discovered by accident when scientists were looking for new blood pressure treatments. This change in blood pressure is related to how Viagra works and is part of the reason why Viagra makes it easier to get erections.

How long do side effects last?

Most men find their side effects go away after 1 hour, and after 12 hours almost all side effects go away. The table below shows what percentage of men still have side effects after a certain amount of time after taking a dose of Viagra.

 Time after taking Viagra % of men still experiencing side effects 
 18 mins Less than 90% 
 24 mins Less than 90% 
 30 mins Less than 80% 
 54 mins Less than 70% 
 1 hour Less than 50% 
 3 hours  Less than 30%
 7 hours Less than 20% 
 12 hours Less than 10% 
 Over 12 hours 3% 

Are there long-term side effects?

Looking at the long-term effects of Sildenafil, research shows that the number of men stopping treatment because of side effects remains very low – less than 1%.
Men appear to be able to take Sildenafil long term without serious risk to their health, and without an increased chance of getting side effects.

Plus, evidence shows that men who take Sildenafil long term still find their treatment effective and don’t become resistant to it. This means that it’s safe to take Viagra for as long as you need it. 

Do higher doses make Viagra side effects worse?

There’s a small increase in your chance of getting side effects as the dose of Viagra goes up. Still, there’s only a less than 2% chance of side effects across all doses.

This table shows the percentage of men who get certain side effects from Viagra, based on the dose they take. This shows that of the small percentage of men who get side effects, 16% of them will get a headache when taking 25mg of Viagra.

Common side effect  25 mg  50mg  100mg 
 Headache 16%  21%  28% 
 Flushing 10%  19%  18% 
 Dyspepsia 3%  9%  17% 
 Abnormal vision 1%  2%  11% 
 Nasal congestion 4%  4%  9% 
 Back pain 3%  4%  4% 
 Myalgia 2%  2%  4% 
 Nausea 2%  3%  3% 
 Dizziness 3%  4%  3% 
 Rash 1%  2%  3% 

See our page on Viagra Dosages for more information on the different doses of Viagra.

Are side effects different for generic or over the counter Viagra?

Are side effects worse for older men?

There isn’t a lot of difference in the side effects experienced by older men compared to younger men. Research shows even most men over 70 can tolerate Viagra treatment without any serious problems.

As you get older, your chance of getting other health conditions that could make Viagra unsafe does go up, so some older men may need to take lower doses of Viagra. Also as you get older your body may get less efficient at removing Viagra from your system, so side effects may last a little longer than they would for younger men. 

Does alcohol cause side effects?

Alcohol doesn’t have a serious reaction with Viagra so you can drink in moderation and use Viagra safely.

But, alcohol does make it more likely that you will get side effects from Viagra. Alcohol also makes it harder for you to get and keep erections,  so drinking alcohol can make Viagra less effective.

You can find more information on our page about taking alcohol and Viagra at the same time.

Other causes of side effects?

Does Viagra give women side effects?

Studies on women using Viagra show that they get similar side effects to men taking Viagra, and don’t get any extra serious side effects. One instance of female genital bleeding was recorded, similar to the rare side effect of penile bleeding in men.

Even if some research suggests Viagra might be able to help with female sexual disorders, there isn’t enough evidence to support treatment. Because of this, and the risk of side effects that comes with Viagra, doctors can’t prescribe Viagra to women with sexual disorders.

Since women in the UK can’t get approved for Viagra treatment, it means they can’t be sure it’s safe for them to take it. Even if many women would only get mild side effects, if a doctor hasn’t made sure it’s safe, taking Viagra could come with a risk of serious or even life-threatening side effects.

See our page on Viagra for Women for more information.

Does fake/herbal Viagra cause side effects?

There’s a wide range of different products marketed as a herbal alternative to Viagra, so it’s hard to say exactly what side effects they might cause.

Many of these kinds of products aren’t properly regulated, and it’s hard to be certain of what ingredients are in them or how they are made. This means that they could have ingredients that cause side effects, possibly even serious ones. Some of these products may also contain unsafe amounts of actual medication, or combinations of medications, which could put you at risk of serious side effects.

Rather than put your health and your wallet at risk with potentially ineffective and unsafe products, it’s better to get authentic treatment, either online or from your GP or pharmacist.

What to do about side effects

How to avoid them

  • Be as accurate as possible with the information you give your doctor when getting Viagra treatment
  • Read the patient information leaflet that comes with your Viagra
  • Only take one tablet every 24 hours
  • Don’t take Viagra with other erectile dysfunction medication
  • Don’t drink alcohol
  • Avoid grapefruit juice
  • Avoid drug use, particularly amyl nitrates (poppers)

How to get rid of them

To stop side effects coming back next time you use Viagra, you could:

  • Follow the advice above on how to avoid side effects
  • Switch to a lower dosage with the help of a doctor
  • Switch to a different erectile dysfunction treatment

Is Viagra safe?

Viagra is a safe and effective medication for most men. Less than 2% of men get side effects from Viagra and most people who do get side effects don’t get serious ones. As long as a doctor has approved treatment for you, you can be sure it’s safe for you to use.

Does Viagra react with other medications?

Viagra can react with other medications but as long as you’ve told your doctor what medications you’re taking and they still approve treatment, it shouldn’t be a problem.