Erectile Dysfunction

How To Get a Viagra Prescription

How To Get a Viagra Prescription

Sildenafil, brand name Viagra, is a prescription medication to treat erectile dysfunction (ED). Sildenafil was discovered by Pfizer Inc. and was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 1998 as a safe and effective ED treatment option.1 Within six months of its FDA approval, 5.3 million Viagra prescriptions were written.2 Before Viagra, less than 4% of men sought ED treatment, likely because the available treatments were invasive and had little effectiveness. Within six months, 20% of men at risk for ED had been treated with Viagra. The drug quickly captured 98% of the market for ED treatment.2  

ED is defined by the Fourth International Consultation on Sexual Medicine as the “consistent or recurrent inability to attain and maintain penile erection sufficient for sexual satisfaction.” 3 ED has many potential causes, including:4

  • Neurologic: nerve damage or trauma related
  • Psychologic: depression and anxiety
  • Endocrine: changes in hormone levels
  • Vascular: abnormalities of the blood vessels supplying blood to the penis, usually because of high blood pressure, diabetes, or high cholesterol

ED affects over 18 million men in the U.S., which is about 18.4% of the adult male population aged 20 or older.4 Other studies show that the number of U.S. adult men who have ED is much higher, reaching 24.6% to 33.7%.5,6

Risk for ED and cardiovascular disease are linked, as they both have blood vessel damage as a major contributing cause. Lack of physical exercise, poor dietary habits, and smoking are modifiable lifestyle risk factors for both ED and cardiovascular disease. Untreated ED can have several negative consequences, including psychological conditions, relationship problems, anxiety, and stress-related medical conditions.1

a man and woman in bed

How does Viagra work?

Sildenafil (Viagra) was the first oral treatment for ED. Its development was based on a better understanding of the physiology underlying ED. Before sildenafil, treatment options were limited to surgery, vacuum pumps, injectable therapies, and intraurethral suppositories.

An erection is caused by increased blood flow into the penis. Sexual stimulation increases blood flow into the penis, temporarily trapping it in spaces called the corpus cavernosum. These spaces make up the bulk of the penis structure and surround the urethra, the tube shared by both the urinary and the reproductive systems. When blood enters the penis and fills the corpus cavernosum, the swollen tissue presses on small veins draining the penis. This process causes vasocongestion, or holding blood in the penis. The pressure within the penis increases, and it stiffens.7

Nitric oxide is a small molecule that is found throughout the body. After sexual stimulation, it is released from nerve endings near the small blood vessels in the corpus cavernosum of the penis. Nitric oxide triggers a chemical cascade that dilates blood vessels and increases blood flow into the penis, causing an erection. 

 cGMP (another molecule in the cascade) levels must remain high to maintain the erection. Phosphodiesterase inactivates cGMP. Inactivating cGMP allows the smooth muscles in the blood vessel walls to contract, decreasing blood flow into the penis and ending the erection.

Sildenafil is a competitive inhibitor of phosphodiesterase type 5 (PDE-5). By inhibiting phosphodiesterase, nitric oxide continues to trigger the cascade, and blood flow into the penis is maintained.

Do I need a doctor’s prescription for Viagra?

Yes, a prescription is required to legally purchase Viagra or its generic sildenafil. Viagra is safe for most people, but it is up to your healthcare provider to determine whether Viagra is safe for you.

According to the Pharmaceutical Security Institute, 37% of all fake medications seized are ED drugs. Men may be hesitant to talk with their doctors about ED and may be unaware that ED meds can be risky for people with heart disease and other medical conditions.8

Buying Viagra online without a prescription or from a fake online pharmacy can be dangerous. In 2011, Pfizer evaluated 22 websites at the top of a web search using the search term “buy Viagra” and did chemical testing on the products from these websites. Pfizer found that 80% of the drugs were counterfeit and contained only 30% to 50% of the active ingredient sildenafil citrate. Counterfeit medications may be manufactured in substandard labs and may contain potentially dangerous contaminants.

In a 2011 survey of 1,000 men, 82% said that it is difficult to tell if an online pharmacy is legitimate, but 36% said they would consider buying ED meds online anyway.9 Look for pharmacies that have received accreditation from the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy’s VIPPS® (Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites®) program.

Prescription for blue pills

What happens if you take Viagra and don’t need it?

Viagra is sometimes prescribed off label to treat Reynaud phenomenon, female sexual arousal disorder, and as an adjunct treatment for altitude sickness. It is prescribed for these conditions after the prescriber weighs the benefits of Viagra treatment against the potential side effects.10

All medications, including Viagra, have side effects. Taking Viagra or any other medication that is not prescribed for you means that you put yourself at risk for side effects without receiving the treatment benefits.

Viagra common side effects (occur in more than 2% of users):

  • Headache
  • Facial flushing
  • Indigestion
  • Abnormal vision
  • Nasal congestion
  • Flu syndrome
  • Back pain
  • Muscle ache
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Rash
  • Urinary tract infection
  • Diarrhea
  • Back pain
  • Joint aches

Viagra (sildenafil) should be prescribed with caution for anyone who is sensitive to blood pressure changes or is taking alpha-adrenergic blockers and other blood pressure medications. Viagra is contraindicated for patients taking nitrates, have allergies to any Viagra component, or have severe low blood pressure from other causes. There are other contraindications that your doctor will consider and evaluate you for before prescribing Viagra.10

Priapism, a prolonged and painful erection, is another medication risk. When blood stays trapped for several hours in the penis, oxygen levels decrease, and waste products build up. This can damage penile tissue. Your doctor should discuss priapism, what to watch for, how to treat it, and when to seek emergency care.

How much does Viagra cost?

Viagra comes in 25 mg, 50 mg, and 100 mg strength tablets. Most people receive a prescription for the 50 mg tablet and are instructed to take it approximately 1 hour prior to sexual activity. The dose can be increased or decreased based on how well it works.2

According to drugs.com each 25 mg or 50 mg Viagra pill costs $82.26, and each 100 mg pill costs $82.87. Generic sildenafil costs $11.62 to $17.36 for each 25 mg pill, $11.39 to $13.69 for each 50 mg pill and $11.39 to $14.45 for each 100 mg pill. Lower prices can be found by using prescription savings cards.

A sildenafil treatment plan from Invigor Medical costs $109 for 30 pills as a single purchase, $100 for 30 pills as a subscription purchase, and $159 for 90 pills as a single purchase.

a clipboard which says diagnosis erectile dysfunciton

How do I ask my doctor about Viagra?

Talking about erectile dysfunction is uncomfortable for many men. Concerns about their self-image, masculinity, lack of treatment options, and how ED affects their relationships add another layer. It helps to prepare for your appointment in advance by creating a list of your concerns and having the details of your health history on hand to answer questions. Your doctor will need to understand your medical history to determine the cause of your ED.

Today, with online healthcare, men who are uncomfortable discussing ED with their primary care doctor have other options. They can schedule an online appointment, receive a diagnosis, and be prescribed ED treatment, all from the comfort of their home or office. The ease of treatment available should make men more comfortable discussing ED and reduce any stigma associated with seeking treatment.

Lifestyle factors can increase your risk of ED. While it is important to ask your doctor about a prescription for Viagra, listen if they give you diet and exercise advice to lower your risk for ED and cardiovascular disease.

Make a list of all questions you may have. Medical appointments are short. Coming prepared with a list of questions and concerns can help ensure you get the most out of your appointment. If you don’t get the information and treatment you need from the first doctor you see, make an appointment with another. A urologist is a specialist who treats ED,

Looking to get Viagra? See how Invigor Medical can help today!

Disclaimer

While we strive to always provide accurate, current, and safe advice in all of our articles and guides, it’s important to stress that they are no substitute for medical advice from a doctor or healthcare provider.  You should always consult a practicing professional who can diagnose your specific case.  The content we’ve included in this guide is merely meant to be informational and does not constitute medical advice.

References 

1. Goldstein I, Burnett AL, Rosen RC, Park PW, Stecher VJ. The Serendipitous Story of Sildenafil: An Unexpected Oral Therapy for Erectile Dysfunction. Sexual Medicine Reviews. 2019/01/01/ 2019;7(1):115-128. doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sxmr.2018.06.005

2. McCullough AR. Four-year review of sildenafil citrate. Rev Urol. 2002;4 Suppl 3(Suppl 3):S26-38.

3. McCabe MP, Sharlip ID, Atalla E, et al. Definitions of sexual dysfunctions in women and men: a consensus statement from the Fourth International Consultation on Sexual Medicine 2015. The journal of sexual medicine. 2016;13(2):135-143.

4. Selvin E, Burnett AL, Platz EA. Prevalence and risk factors for erectile dysfunction in the US. The American journal of medicine. 2007;120(2):151-157.

5. Foster SA, Annunziata K, Shortridge EF, Freedman D, Viktrup L. Erectile dysfunction with or without coexisting benign prostatic hyperplasia in the general US population: analysis of US National Health and Wellness Survey. Current medical research and opinion. 2013;29(12):1709-1717.

6. Shaeer O, Shaeer K. The global online sexuality survey (GOSS): The United States of America in 2011. Chapter I: erectile dysfunction among english‐speakers. The journal of sexual medicine. 2012;9(12):3018-3027.

7. Lyseng-Williamson KA, Wagstaff AJ. Management of Erectile Dysfunction. Disease Management & Health Outcomes. 2002/07/01 2002;10(7):431-452. doi:10.2165/00115677-200210070-00004

8. Haiken M. 7 Most Common Counterfeit Drugs. The Partnership for Safe Medicines. Accessed October 27, 2022. https://www.safemedicines.org/2012/08/7-most-frequently-counterfeited-medicines-are-scary462.html

9.  Aldridge Young C. Pfizer launches website for purchasing Viagra safely. Pharmacy Today. 2013;19(6):48. doi:10.1016/s1042-0991(15)31305-0

10. Smith BP, Babos M. Sildenafil. StatPearls. StatPearls Publishing Copyright © 2022.

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Published: Oct 27, 2022

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