Top
Man holding a bottle of blue pills.

When Viagra Doesn’t Work, Try These Things

Don’t despair if Viagra doesn’t immediately produce the results you’re looking for. Here are a number of steps you can take to maximize the drug’s effectiveness for you.  

As widely effective as it is for men with erectile dysfunction (ED) caused by insufficient blood flow to the penis, Viagra doesn’t work for every man. Nor does it work in exactly the same way in every man.

If you’ve been disappointed by your experiences with the little blue pill, here are some things you can do that might help the situation.

As widely effective as it is for men with erectile dysfunction (ED) caused by insufficient blood flow to the penis, Viagra doesn’t work for every man. Nor does it work in exactly the same way in every man.

If you’ve been disappointed by your experiences with the little blue pill, here are some things you can do that might help the situation.

How Do ED Medications Work?

Oral ED medications, like Viagra, work by improving blood flow to the penis. These medications are known as phosphodiesterase type-5 (PDE5) inhibitors. In the U.S., they have been widely researched and approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in treating erectile dysfunction in most men.

Men should only take these medications as directed by their medical provider. They should follow all instructions for maximum effectiveness. This includes when to take them, how often they can be taken, and how much should be taken at a time.

The effects of ED medications vary for each person. This means that some men may benefit from a combination of lifestyle changes and ED medication. All treatment options should be discussed with a medical provider to ensure optimum outcomes.

Why Use Viagra?

Research demonstrates Viagra and its generic equivalent (sildenafil) to be highly effective at treating ED related to insufficient blood flow to the penis. In clinical trials, Viagra and similar drugs (e.g. Cialis) have resulted in a strong erection for 70% of the men who take them. Viagra is often prescribed as a first line of treatment because it has been on the market longest.

Check Out Your Medicine Cabinet

Over-the-counter and prescription medications have been known to cause or contribute to ED. They can also blunt the effects of Viagra and other ED medications, making it difficult or even impossible for these drugs to do their job. Seemingly innocuous medications as acid reflux drugs, antihistamines, and blood pressure medicines can make Viagra less effective.

Swapping out medications that cause ED can prevent adverse reactions with Viagra.

Shake Off Your Stress

Man having a discussion with a therapist.

Sexual arousal and functioning is a complex process involving the brain, emotions, and physiological processes. Some men experience ED rooted in both psychosocial problems and physical problems. Treating both can help to reduce ED symptoms and improve the effectiveness of Viagra.

Psychological causes of ED include:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • High levels of stress
  • Relationship problems
  • Performance anxiety

Treating underlying psychological problems, like anxiety or depression, can improve overall sexual functioning. Speaking to a sex therapist can help men to work through anxiety surrounding sex and performance. Men taking anxiety or depression medications may need to change their dosage or medication type to prevent additional ED symptoms.

Treatment may include:

  • Medication for anxiety or depression
  • Discussing causes of sexual problems
  • Education about the role of emotions in sex
  • Talking through changes in sexuality with age
  • Suggestions for increasing enjoyment in sex (e.g. foreplay, lubricant use)

Manage Chronic Conditions

Chronic conditions, such as diabetes, negatively affect sexual function and performance. For example, conditions that affect the cardiovascular system (e.g. high cholesterol) can compromise blood flow, making it difficult for men to achieve or maintain an erection. Men can improve their sexual functioning by consistently managing their chronic conditions.

Examples of chronic conditions that can cause ED include:

  • Cancer
  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Obesity

The most common methods of managing chronic conditions are lifestyle changes and medication management. Men should speak to their medical provider to determine the best course of action for managing their conditions. Creating an action plan with a medical provider is a great first step in helping Viagra do its job.

When and How Do You Eat?

Table top with fruits and vegetables.When and how men eat can impact the effectiveness of their ED medications.

As for the when, men should follow label instructions and ask their provider about meal timing when taking Viagra or similar medications. Although Viagra labels state the drug can be taken with or without food, it is actually most effective when taken on an empty stomach. In fact, a heavy meal high in fat content taken at or around the time you’ve taken Viagra can significantly delay the pill’s onset of action, which usually ranges from 30 to 60 minutes, according to Pfizer.

As for the how, research shows that a balanced diet can improve sexual function. Results within the Massachusetts Male Aging Study demonstrated that diets lower in fat and rich in natural foods decreased the likelihood of ED. Men who improve their diets may find success in maximizing the effects of their Viagra prescription.

Skip Happy Hour

Research has established a connection between alcohol consumption and ED. Men living with alcohol dependence are 60 to 70 percent more likely to experience chronic ED. However, alcohol consumption can also cause short-term ED.

Alcohol can reduce blood flow to the penis. It can also cause desensitization and make it difficult to climax. Mixing alcohol and Viagra can decrease the effects of the drug.

Look at Your Dosage

The recommended starter dose for Viagra is 50 milligrams. However, some men need a higher dose to get the job done. Increasing that dose to 100 milligrams might be just the trick to get desired results. Men should not increase their dosage without seeking guidance from their medical provider.

Try a New ED Medication

Smiling man typing on a laptop keyboard.While most ED drugs work in the same way, each has its own unique chemical formula. And individuals vary — sometimes dramatically — in their sensitivity to specific medications. If Viagra isn’t getting the job done, men might find the result they are looking for with another option, such as Cialis, Levitra, Staxyn, or Stendra.

No matter which ED medication someone chooses, longtime online facilitator eDrugstore has it in stock. In addition to all the brand name ED drugs cited above, eDrugstore also sells the generic equivalents of Viagra, Cialis, Levitra, and Staxyn. And ordering from eDrugstore can save both time and money. To learn more about these medications, visit the Erectile Dysfunction page.

Shelby is a public health professional with research and field experience in sexual and reproductive health. She holds a Master of Public Health (MPH) and is a Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES).