What Is Viagra?

Viagra is the marketed name for a drug called Sildenafil. Sildenafil, or Viagra, is a prescription drug that treats erectile dysfunction or sexual impotence in men. The drug Viagra (Sildenafil) is part of a family of drugs known as phosphodiesterase 5 inhibitor (PDE5). Viagra essentially inhibits PDE5, which is an enzyme that controls blood vessels, from operating too rapidly. The blood vessels in the male penis utilise this particular enzyme. If the blood vessels are not relaxed properly, this can lead to erectile dysfunction.

What Is Erectile Dysfunction?

Common among older men, erectile dysfunction is the inability for the penis to become erect, even when conditions or arousal are present biologically. It is also described as when a man becomes erect initially but is unable to maintain an erection for a long period of time.

Blood vessels inside the penis fill up with blood when a man is aroused sexually. The vessels then stiffen as they are filled, thus resulting in an erection. However, when the enzyme PDE5 works too hastily, is causes the blood vessels to constrict and blood to drain from the vessels in the process.

Viagra prevents PDE5 from causing this to happen and allows the penis to remain erect for longer periods of time. Viagra will only work properly when the penis is stroked, as with intercourse or otherwise. Viagra will not keep the penis in an erect position without physical contact.

Does Viagra Have Other Uses?

Viagra was originally marketed as a drug to help men with sexual impotence. However, further research into the drug’s potential has shown that it is highly effective in treating pulmonary arterial hypertension in adults, both male and female.

Pulmonary arterial hypertension is a form of high blood pressure that is present specifically in the lungs. Just as in the male penis, the enzyme PDE5 is present and responsible for the same kind of control on the blood vessels in the lungs.

People who suffer from pulmonary arterial hypertension experience the same kind of effect in the blood vessels in their lungs. PDE5 works to unintentionally constrict blood vessels, thereby causing high blood pressure to form. For many who suffer, the cause of the hypertension is unknown. Still others have hypertension related to drugs, autoimmune disorders such as those dealing with connective tissue, or HIV infection. Viagra increases the blood flow to the respiratory system, thus decreasing the strain on the heart as it attempts to maintain proper blood supply to the lungs.

What Is the Proper Way to Use Viagra?

Like all prescription drugs, using Viagra according to medical guidelines will ensure the drug’s efficacy as well as prevent any health issues that may arise from misuse of the drug. Since Viagra (Sildenafil) is a prescription drug, your doctor will direct the use specific to your needs. You should never deviate from the direction of your doctor regarding Viagra.

When the prescription is received, it will come with instructions that are unique for you. Depending on the level of sexual activity in which you engage and your overall health, the differences in how much or how often you take Viagra will differ dramatically. For this reason, you should never take a dosage of Viagra from another person or base your perceived dosage on what you find online.

Viagra comes in both pill form and liquid form. The liquid form of Viagra should be shaken before each dose to prevent settling of the ingredients and ensure the effectiveness of the dose. The liquid form usually comes with an oral syringe. Simply measure the proper millilitres (milligrams based on pill form) and take orally. Patients should take their allotted dosage approximately 30 minutes prior to sexual activity. Those dealing with hypertension should take their proper dosage as soon as it is needed. In most cases patients dealing hypertension will have a more regularly recurring dosage.

Proper Dosing

As stated above, proper dosage will differ from patient to patient. Below are the general guidelines given for using Viagra for both erectile dysfunction and pulmonary arterial hypertension. It should not be used as a substitute or in any way override your prescription’s instructions, and you should always receive proper dosing from you doctor.

• Dosage in Erectile Dysfunction Treatment:

o Adults aged 65 and older – 25mg per dose approximately one hour prior to sexual activity (intercourse) only once daily as recommended. The converse dosage is 25mg one half hour to four hours prior to sexual activity (intercourse). Each patient’s dosage will be based on doctor recommendations.

o Adults aged 18 to 65 years – 50mg per dose approximately one hour prior to sexual activity (intercourse) only once daily as recommended. The converse dosage is 25mg one half hour to four hours prior to sexual activity (intercourse). Each patient’s dosage will be based on doctor recommendations.

o Children aged 0 to 17 years – There is no recommended dosage for this age group. Doctors typically will not prescribe Viagra to juveniles, especially for erectile dysfunction. Viagra has not been approved for erectile dysfunction or pulmonary arterial hypertension in children.

• Dosage in Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension Treatment:

o Adults aged 18 and up – 5 to 20mg per dose three times daily. It is recommended that each dose is taken in 4 to 6-hour intervals. Dosing may vary. However, the goal is to have consistent dosing that prevents the onset of pulmonary arterial hypertension.
o Children aged 0 to 17 years – Determined by a doctor, but not recommended for use in children by the manufacturer.

It is crucial that all your medical doctors are aware that you have been prescribed Viagra. Similarly, it is wise to inform your doctor of any existing prescriptions and any existing medical issues prior to being prescribed Viagra.

Viagra has several drug interactions that may cause health issues to arise or worsen. Viagra should not be taken as a supplement to any other medication used for erectile dysfunction or for treating pulmonary arterial hypertension.

Talk to your doctor today to see if Viagra is the right prescription for your erectile dysfunction or hypertension needs.

About Azadeh OvaiciDr Azadeh Ovaici qualified as a doctor in 2005 from St Georges Hospital Medical School and became a fully qualified GP in 2012. During her speciality training in general practice, she worked at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital and Charing Cross Hospital, where she undertook training in a wide range of specialities, including Paediatrics, ENT, Obstetrics and Gynaecology and Emergency Medicine alongside London’s top specialists.

In the NHS, Azadeh dealt with a wide range of patient populations and pathologies. She is a very approachable doctor and a great listener; her practice relies on using a tailored approach, dealing with all aspects of a patient's health. In 2017, she joined the Women’s Wellness Centre in 2017 and she has also been working with BUPA, performing health checks.
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