Everything you need to know about Viagra

Everything you need to know about Viagra: As more men in their 20s and 30s turn to the ‘little blue pill’, how you can buy it over the counter for £14.99 but taking too much can lead to vision problems

Nearly half of men between the ages of 40 and 70 suffer from erectile dysfunction in the UK – this is around 4.3 million people.

But reports suggest the ‘little blue pill’ is now becoming increasingly popular with younger individuals in their twenties and thirties.

A 2020 survey of 5,000 people carried out for Upjohn, the maker of Viagra Connect, the over-the-counter version of the drug, showed that 18 percent of 18-24-year-old men had erection difficulties.

And more recently, the ease of getting the drug without a prescription seems to be fueling its popularity with a younger audience.

According to figures from pharmaceutical company Viatris seen by The Independent this week, more than 60% of Britons using it are between 25-54 years old.

Reports suggest the 'little blue pill' is becoming increasingly popular with younger individuals in their twenties and thirties

 

Reports suggest the ‘little blue pill’ is becoming increasingly popular with younger individuals in their twenties and thirties

The publication added that Viagra Connect sold more than seven million tablets in the UK from May 2020 to May 2021.

An online pharmacist also told the outlet: ‘Of our erectile dysfunction custom base, nine percent are in their twenties and 21 percent are in their thirties.’

Reports in recent years have seen professionals say they have seen individuals as young as 16 express interest in the drug.

Speaking to the Daily Mail in 2020, a specialist nurse from the Sexual Advice Association said: ‘I have been in this field for 27 years and 20 percent of my erectile-dysfunction patients are now aged under 30, compared with two percent 20 years ago…I’m seeing boys as young as 16, and quite a lot of young men in their 20s.’

But what does Viagra actually do? Who can use it, what are the side effects – and why is it so popular?

Here is everything you need to know about the drug.

Viagra was originally cooked up by Covid vaccine manufacturer Pfizer in 1989, with hopes that sildenafil citrate could treat high blood pressure

WHAT IS VIAGRA?

Most men occasionally struggle to get or keep an erection due to stress, tiredness, anxiety or drinking too much alcohol.

But up to one in five men in the UK (4.3million) suffer erectile dysfunction – when this keeps happening.

It can be caused by high blood pressure or cholesterol, hormone problems, or side effects from medication.

Medicines containing sildenafil, originally developed to treat angina, are often used to treat the condition. It expands blood vessels and boosts blood flow to the genitals.

Viagra was originally cooked up by Covid vaccine manufacturer Pfizer in 1989, with hopes that sildenafil citrate could treat high blood pressure.

But clinical trials in Wales a few years later saw men report an unusual side effect —they got more erections while taking the medication.

The drug was approved in the US and EU in 1998, branded as Viagra, and became one of the fastest-selling drugs of all time.

WHERE CAN YOU GET IT? 

Non-branded sildenafil can be available from the NHS, to treat erectile dysfunction or pulmonary hypertension.

Branded versions – like Viagra – may only be given in exceptional circumstances. You may also get the drug via private prescription but the pills are also available over the counter.

Just this summer Boots started selling its own-brand Viagra, in a move hailed by doctors amid the cost of living crisis.

It is also available online. However, the NHS website warns: ‘Be very careful if you do this as many websites sell fake medicines.

It adds: [Online medicines are not always regulated and the ingredients in them can vary from one pack to another. They can cause unpleasant side effects or may not be suitable for you.

‘It’s best to see your doctor before buying medicines online. They know your medical history and can discuss whether you might benefit from treatment.’

WHO CAN USE IT?

Most men over 18 may take sildenafil to treat erectile dysfunction, but adults and children (one-year-old and over) may also take the drug for pulmonary hypertension.

However, the NHS advises that it is not suitable for everyone, including individuals with serious heart or liver problems, recent stroke or heart attack victims, and people with low blood pressure.

See the full list here.

WHAT ARE THE SIDE EFFECTS?

Common side effects may include headaches, hot flushes, nausea, indigestion, dizziness, and a stuffy nose.

More serious possible side effects are painful erections (especially if they last for more than two hours), seizures, and chest pain.

An allergic reaction is also possible, alongside any listed in the leaflet which comes with your medicine.

WHY ARE MORE MEN RESORTING TO VIAGRA?

Many of the new generations of teenage and young adult Viagra users are otherwise physically fit, and use it as a prop to ensure sexual performance.

However, in recent years, doctors are warning that others may be suffering sexual difficulties and impotence caused by obesity and obesity-related type 2 diabetes.

This is a problem previously seen only in much older patients, and it’s causing concern, Ian Eardley, a professor of urology at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, told the Daily Mail in 2020.

However, there are multiple reasons why young men may be affected by problems in the bedroom, including the rising use of pornography, binge drinking, and drug-taking, as these mean they need more stimulation to make anything happen.

Doctors are now increasingly aware that erectile dysfunction (ED) might be a sign of underlying disease — and fear that young men may be self-prescribing Viagra. As a result, the real cause of their issues remains untreated, despite it being treatable.

‘There’s no doubt that type 2 diabetes causes it and a 30-year-old diabetic is at least twice or three times as likely as a non-diabetic to suffer from erectile dysfunction,’ Professor Eardley said.

Elsewhere this April, Canadian experts found regularly taking the common erectile dysfunction pill Viagra may raise the risk of three serious eye conditions.

Three other impotence medicines – Cialis, Levitra, and Spedra – were also named as being potential triggers of eye problems.

They found the medications may cause sudden losses of vision, flashes of light, and dark spots or ‘floaters’ in those who take them.

Increasing blood flow to the genitals with the pills could be hindering its supply to the eyes, which the experts suggested may be to blame.

Lead researcher Dr Mahyar Etminan, an ophthalmologist at the University of British Columbia, said people using the drugs who develop vision problems should ‘seek medical attention.

WHAT WOULD HAPPEN IF YOU TOOK TOO MUCH?

Viagra has a range of different side effects which range in severity. According to Medical Daily, too much of the drug may result in a painful, ‘uncomfortably and disproportionately large erection’ called priapism which could go on for hours.

According to the NHS site, if not treated promptly, this could cause permanent damage to the penis.

It recommends seeking medical help if the erection lasts more than two hours. At the hospital, the patient could be treated with ‘tablets or injections directly into your penis’ or blood could be drained from the area via a needle or surgery.

NHS guidance also says that priapism ‘may get better on its own within two hours and suggests there are things you can do to try and reduce the erection.

Going for a pee, having a warm bath or shower, drinking lots of water, going for a gentle walk, doing some exercises, or taking painkillers such as paracetamol (if needed) are recommended.

The NHS site says you should NOT apply ice packs or cold water to the area, have sex or masturbate, drink alcohol, or smoke.

BUT THERE CAN BE POSITIVE SIDE EFFECTS

Taking Viagra could cut the risk of developing Alzheimer’s, scientists say.

Researchers at the Cleveland Clinic in the US examined the medical data of 7 million Americans in their 70s, tracking them for six years.

Results showed adults who took sildenafil, the main ingredient in the little blue pill, were 69 percent less likely to develop Alzheimer’s compared to people who didn’t use the medication.

Sildenafil also used to treat high blood pressure, appeared to perform better than two drugs currently being used in human trials against Alzheimer’s.

Lead researcher Dr. Feixiong Cheng admitted clinical trials are needed to confirm whether the impotence drug can truly ward off the disease.

But separate laboratory projects showed it can increase brain cell growth and stop harmful proteins from building up in the brain.

HOW LONG DOES VIAGRA LAST FOR?

According to Healthline, Viagra on average lasts between two to three hours, depending on several factors including dosage, age, and overall health.

It can last for up to five hours, and a person may be able to get an erection more than once during this period.

HOW OFTEN CAN YOU TAKE VIAGRA?

Those taking sildenafil for erectile dysfunction may be able to get tablets in different doses ranging from 25 – 100mg.

According to the NHS, the usual dose is 50mg – when you need it – no more than once a day.

The site says to take it up to four hours before having sex.

The dosage information for Viatris’ Viagra Connect says: ‘Take 1 Viagra Connect tablet 1 hour before sex. Do not take more than 1 tablet a day.’

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