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Can You Take Viagra with Red Bull? Caffeine? Or Vodka?

Highlights

  • Many people take Viagra (sildenafil) in combination with other legal drugs such as alcohol, caffeine, or energy drinks like Red Bull. 
  • Taking sildenafil with these drugs may lead to an interaction or undo the effects of the sildenafil. 
  • Caffeine increases heart rate and blood pressure, which can interfere with the effects of sildenafil. 
  • Red Bull can show similar effects, as shown in studies comparing pharmacokinetic parameters of sildenafil alone and taken with Red Bull. 
  • Alcohol may interact with sildenafil by causing blood pressure to become too low for too long. It also exacerbates the sexual health issues that sildenafil looks to correct. 
  • When in doubt, take the advice of a doctor. Only get your medications from a source you trust.

Dr. Michael DiLeo
Latest posts by Dr. Michael DiLeo (see all)

As with all medications, it’s important to stay safe while taking Viagra (sildenafil). This includes avoiding interactions with other drugs and medications. While sildenafil is known as a sexual health drug, it actually works on your circulatory system. This is an important detail to remember when taking sildenafil, because there are several other perfectly legal drugs that people take regularly that can also interact with the circulatory system. [Español]

We’re here to shed some light on the potentially negative consequences of mixing sildenafil with three of the most common legal drugs — caffeine, red bull, and alcohol.

Viagra and Caffeine

Luckily, the dangers of mixing Viagra and caffeine are not immediate and pressing — so if you had a cup of coffee before taking your most recent Viagra pill, don’t worry. You don’t need to go to the doctor or hospital.

However, there are still some risks because of what each of these drugs does to your body.

Caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant, and this is the primary reason people use it; it’s why coffee gives you a boost in the morning. However, caffeine also affects the circulatory system. It actually has mixed effects, initially constricting blood vessels, then dilating them. This mixed bag of effects interferes with the increase in circulation from sildenafil.

Caffeine stimulation can increase heart rate and blood pressure. In high doses it can even lead to irregular heartbeat rhythm (atrial fibrillation).

These circulatory effects could spell trouble when taken with sildenafil, because the main mechanism by which sildenafil helps you produce erections is by improving blood flow and lowering blood pressure.

So caffeine certainly won’t help when you take sildenafil, and it may even cancel out the effects, leaving you and your partner dissatisfied.

However, these are not the only factors to consider when taking these drugs together. The circulatory effects of caffeine may also change the way that sildenafil is metabolized in your body.

Unfortunately, the interaction between caffeine and sildenafil metabolism has not been well studied.  However, caffeine’s effects have been studied with other drugs. In general, research shows that the circulatory action of caffeine can cause some drugs to be absorbed more quickly, others not at all, and may cause toxic reactions in others.

While the acute effects of taking sildenafil along with caffeine are not well understood, it’s always appropriate to be cautious. Avoid taking sildenafil at the same time as caffeine and talk to your doctor about your caffeine usage.

Additionally, beware of any coffee products that claim to enhance sexual performance. These are an unfortunate trend in which herbal coffee recipes are infused with undeclared dosages of sildenafil or tadalafil.

Many of these products have been recalled by the FDA, but there could still be options lurking online that claim to be a miracle treatment for energy and sexual vigor.

But these products are dangerous. Sildenafil and tadalafil are both powerful drugs that can have interactions with both the caffeine in the coffee and with other medications. These drugs should only be taken with the prescription of a physician you trust.

Viagra and Red Bull

viagra and red bull

A lot of the risks of taking Viagra with Red Bull are the same as those for caffeine, since these drinks contain a ton of caffeine. However, they also contain various other added ingredients and a lot of extra sugar on top of that.

There has been a small amount of research into the interactions between energy drinks and caffeine. One study, using rats as a test organism, attempted to identify the ways that energy drinks can interfere with the pharmacokinetic parameters of sildenafil.

Pharmacokinetics refers to the way (and rate) that drugs are processed by the body. Pharmacokinetic parameters are specific data points that researchers use to compare the activity of different drugs. These parameters are all derived by graphing concentration of the drug in the blood over time after taking a dose and then analyzing the graph.

Cmax refers to the highest concentration of the drug after a dose. A high Cmax means that the drug is absorbed readily by the body. Cmin is the minimum concentration after the peak dosage. A high Cmin means that the drug stays at a high concentration in the body for a long time.

The pharmacokinetic parameters they analyzed in the study were Cmax and AUC, or the area under the curve. This parameter can be a bit confusing, so to simplify it: AUC is a good measurement of the overall exposure of a drug. A high AUC means a higher exposure to the drug, regardless of the maximum concentration. Conversely, a low AUC means a lower exposure to the drug.

Returning to sildenafil, when sildenafil was combined with energy drinks, the pharmacokinetic parameters changed dramatically. When taken without an energy drink, the Cmax of sildenafil was 162.05 nanograms per milliliter (ng/ml). The AUC was 370.53.

These numbers fell significantly when sildenafil was combined with Red Bull. The new Cmax was 44.68 ng/ml, which is a 72% decrease. The new AUC was 87.74 — a 76% decrease.

Don’t worry too much about the numbers themselves (remember — this study was done with rats, not humans). The main point is that the Red Bull significantly reduced the absorption of sildenafil. In a clinical application, this means the drug won’t work nearly as well for the same dose if it’s taken with Red Bull.

The mechanism of this interaction hasn’t been researched in depth, but the likely culprit is the obscene amounts of caffeine in these drinks. You should avoid taking sildenafil at the same time as drinking Red Bull. 

And talk to your doctor about how Red Bull might be influencing your overall health — it’s honestly not a very healthy choice in general. And one of the best things you can do to help your sexual performance naturally is keep yourself in good health!

Viagra and Alcohol

viagra and alcohol

We cannot in good conscience talk about Viagra and alcohol without pointing out that alcohol is bad for you in general, even in moderation. 

Even Shakespeare knew that sex and alcohol don’t mix — back in the 16th century! As he wrote in the play Henry IV, alcohol “provokes the desire but takes away the performance.”So, if you’re struggling with your sexual performance, try giving up drinking for a while to see if it makes a difference. This may help whether you take Viagra or not.

There is not a ton of research available on the specific interactions between alcohol and sildenafil. However, because both drugs can lower your blood pressure, there is the potential for interactions and increased risk of side effects when combining these drugs. When blood pressure is kept too low for too long, it can lead to dizziness, lightheadedness, heart palpitations, and fainting.

There is also a lot of research on the relationship between alcohol and erectile dysfunction in general. Numerous studies have investigated the relationship — and the results do not come out in favor of alcohol.

The research shows that chronic alcohol use lowers testosterone levels. Since testosterone is the male sexual hormone, it is critically important to achieving and maintaining erections. Alcohol may also damage the testes and cause prostatitis.

One study attempted to identify the prevalence of sexual dysfunction in people with alcohol dependence. A shocking 72% of their test subjects with alcohol dependence experienced sexual dysfunction. They determined that the amount of alcohol consumed is a good predictor of likelihood of developing sexual dysfunction.

This is because alcohol is a depressant. It slows down your body’s systems, including the reproductive system. While this doesn’t necessarily mean that it will produce a toxic reaction when you take sildenafil and drink, the two drugs are working at odds with each other. If you want the sildenafil to work, don’t drink as well! And if you do, limit the alcohol to a small amount — a single glass of wine or one beer.

If You Have Any Doubts, Talk to a Doctor

doctor and patient talking

While we have attempted to lay out the facts for you, the most important step you can take to protect yourself from drug interactions is to only get medications from a doctor you trust, and discuss possible interactions with them. We can help you get your medications discretely and conveniently, including a complimentary virtual consultation with one of our doctors, who can write your prescription. 

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