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A study in the International Journal of Impotence Research projects that 322 million men will suffer from erectile dysfunction (ED) by the year 2025. For those unfamiliar with ED, it’s a condition characterized by a man’s inability to achieve or maintain an erection that’s firm enough for sex. It can be the result of physical or psychology issues or both. It can, naturally, have lasting effects on a man’s self-esteem and also be problematic for his intimate relationships. There are many ways men can address ED. Sometimes, getting to the source of the psychological issue (such as too much stress) is enough, but sometimes it isn’t. When deemed necessary, some men get penile implants or receive injections to treat the problem. Some go so far as to try shockwave therapy. However, one of the most popular and affordable forms of treatment is Viagra.

 

There is absolutely no shame in needing treatment to fix a problem. We are, as a society, working towards de-stigmatizing treatment for issues such as depression and anxiety, and we should de-stigmatize the use of treatment for malfunctioning penises, too. De-stigmatizing doesn’t mean not talking about the concern. If your partner wants to start taking Viagra, have a conversation. Here are things you should both know before your man chooses the blue pill.

 

1) How It Works

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The medical name for Viagra is Sildenafil, which is part of a family of drugs called PDE-5 inhibitors. The way Viagra works is it relaxes smooth muscles at the base of the penis that are typically contracted (that’s when you see a soft penis). When those muscles are relaxed, they allow blood to flow, resulting in an erection. PDE-5 is an enzyme released when a man is not aroused, so when it’s released, it causes the smooth muscles at the base of the penis to contract. Suppressing that enzyme allows the penis to both become erect and stay erect longer. Viagra is successful about 70 percent of the time in healthy men, says Harvard Health. It works best for men whose issue is primarily psychological.

 

2) It Ain’t For Everybody

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Of course any man struggling to achieve or maintain an erection wants a magic pill to fix it, and wants results fast. However, it is important to mitigate expectations. Not all men can take Viagra. Men with high blood pressure should not take it because the pill causes blood vessels to open wider, making it dangerous for users with hypertension. Men who have heart problems such as those who have had a heart attack, irregular heartbeat, heart failure, chest pain, or angina should also avoid taking Viagra. Furthermore, men who are or have recently taken nitrates or riociguat cannot take Viagra as these medications can have adverse reactions to the pill. You can avoid guesswork around its safety because men do need a prescription for Viagra, so a patient will talk to his doctor about these things. If a man can’t get a prescription, he should not try the imitation pills found at some pharmacies and gas stations. If your doctor says no, it’s for a reason.

3) Meal Planning

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If your hopes are to have a passionate night in the sheets after a big dinner at a steakhouse, you may need to make some adjustments. Viagra does not mix well with heavy, fatty foods. Such foods can decrease its effectiveness or delay its effects. They can also increase the chances of an upset stomach. Make sure your partner has a light meal on the night he wants to take Viagra, and that he lets at least two hours elapse between consuming food and taking Viagra. Without having eaten near the time of taking it, Viagra can kick in in as little as 30 minutes.

 

4) There Are Limits To This

Pills in glass containers without caps

Ion-Bogdan Dumitrescu

Men should not take more than their prescribed dosage of Viagra each day. Viagra is available in 25mg, 50mg, and 100mg doses. Your doctor will instruct you on the safest dose to take, with your particular health and medical history in mind. Some may worry that they can become addicted to Viagra. Viagra is not addictive, however, do note that one study published in the National Library of Medicine found that many men see a decrease in effectiveness after a couple of years and have to increase their dosage. If the maximum dosage is not producing results, it might be time to talk to your doctor about a different path to treating ED.

 

5) It Don’t Always Work

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If Viagra doesn’t work for your partner right away, don’t panic. For many, Viagra doesn’t kick in until they’ve taken it a few times. This is perfectly normal. It’s also important to know that it does require sexual stimulation in order to work. If a man is not aroused, an erection will not occur, even when he has taken Viagra. Some men prefer to take Viagra alone for the first time and try self-stimulation, simply to see how they feel when they take it without the pressure to perform. If Viagra does not work after several attempts, talk to your doctor. Viagra may not work if a man is too stressed.

 

6) When It Works–It Works

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The great news is that, while some precautions need to be taken like eating a light meal before and not mixing medications, when Viagra does work, it works for a while. Its effects typically last at least five hours and sometimes last up to 12. Many men find that their erections last longer during intercourse while taking Viagra, and find that they don’t need as much down time between rounds of intercourse. That’s what makes Viagra a great addition to your man’s toiletry bag on a celebratory weekend.

7) It Can With Side Effects

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Some minor side effects are to be expected when first taking Viagra. They typically subside quickly once the medication wears off, and their occurrence decreases the longer men take Viagra. Minor side effects include nausea, headaches, upset stomach, skin flush, muscle aches, and a slight change in vision (the vision may appear slightly blue). Major side effects to look out for include vision issues or loss that persists or hearing issues or loss that persists. If these side effects occur, the affected individual should see a doctor right away. Such side effects are rare but should be taken seriously. An additional serious side effect is a prolonged erection that will not go away. If not treated immediately, this can lead to permanent ED.

8) Don’t Mix It

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Viagra is safe for most healthy men however even those in good health should not mix Viagra with certain substances. It is strongly advised that Viagra takers not smoke cigarettes. Because smoking is linked to heart disease and Viagra should be avoided in anyone with heart problems, these two do not mix. Excessive alcohol intake can reduce the effects of Viagra, so while a glass of wine or two might be okay, overdoing it will mean underperforming later. Drugs.com says alcohol can increase the chances of side effects such as dizziness, fainting, headache, and heart palpitations, too. Illicit drugs should be avoided at all times when taking Viagra as such drugs may have dangerous interactions.

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