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Can Using Viagra Make You Impotent?

Erectile dysfunction (ED) or impotence is the inability to achieve or maintain a strong erection for satisfactory sex. Untreated, it can lead to performance anxiety, poor self-esteem, relationship problems, and even clinical depression. It is a surprisingly common problem that affects men of all ages. The World Health Organization estimates that by the year 2025, approximately 320 million men worldwide will be affected by ED1. In 1998, the United States Food and Drug Administration approved the first oral treatment for erectile dysfunction – sildenafil (marketed by Pfizer under the brand name Viagra). The little blue pill quickly became a blockbuster in impotence treatment, racking up $2 billion in annual sales at one point2. But like all medications, sildenafil has some side effects. Also, the recreational use of erectile dysfunction drugs is associated with several risks. Can using Viagra make you impotent? Does this medication cause the condition it was designed to treat?

How Does Viagra Work?

Sildenafil belongs to a class of drugs called PDE5 inhibitors. These medications relax the muscles and increase blood flow into the penis, making it erect. The drugs work only in response to sexual stimulation. Without sexual arousal, Viagra does not lead to an erection. PDE5 inhibitors do not increase a man’s libido. However, a boost in confidence from knowing one can perform better can lead to an indirect increase in sexual desire.

Men with erectile dysfunction take sildenafil by mouth about one hour before anticipated sexual activity. The medication can be taken anywhere from half an hour to four hours in advance. The prescribed dose ranges from 25 mg to 100 mg. Viagra should not be taken more than once a day.

What Are the Side Effects of Viagra?

Sildenafil and other PDE5 inhibitors can cause some mild and short-lived side effects such as headache, heartburn, flushing, nausea, vision problems, and dizziness. These medications have potentially dangerous interactions with certain other drugs, for example, nitrates such as nitroglycerin and isosorbide that are prescribed for angina (chest pain). Taking Viagra and nitrates together can result in a potentially fatal drop in blood pressure.

Recreational ED Drug Use: Can It Lead to Erectile Dysfunction?

Viagra is one of the most commonly prescribed pharmaceutical agents worldwide. An estimated 16 million men have used it3. It is intended to induce penile erections in men with erectile dysfunction. However, it is also used recreationally because word on the street is that it increases penis size and enhances sexual performance by extending the time to ejaculate. There are also reports of people abusing a street drug called Sextasy, which is a combination of Viagra and Ecstasy4. The use of ED medications without a medical indication is associated with risky sexual behaviors. Yet, ED drugs continue to be easily available. Many online pharmacies sell counterfeit or genuine sildenafil pills without a prescription. What many people don’t realize is that recreational use of Viagra can lead to impotence and other complications. 

Can Taking Viagra Make You Impotent?

There are two potential ways by which using Viagra can make you impotent. Some men do not have a medical diagnosis of erectile dysfunction but take sildenafil believing that it will improve their normal erections and increase orgasmic sensations. However, the recreational use of ED drugs by healthy men can lead to psychogenic impotence5. Frequent Viagra use can result in low confidence in one’s ability to achieve and maintain an erection unaided. This can lead to an increasing dependence on sildenafil as a sexual enhancement aid, ultimately resulting in poor erectile function and overall dissatisfaction with sex.

Another way in which Viagra can cause impotence is by inducing a condition called priapism. Priapism is a prolonged and painful erection of the penis that persists for more than 4 hours. It is a medical emergency and can result in impotence, infection, and permanent damage to the penis6. There are reports of men developing priapism after the unauthorized use of erectile dysfunction drugs7,8. The risk is higher when someone who has undergone penile injection therapy takes sildenafil without a doctor’s prescription.

H2: What is the Safest Way to Take Viagra Without Risk of Impotence?

Here are some ways to ensure safety and avoid Viagra-induced impotence:

  • Talk to a doctor about any sexual health concerns. Do not self-diagnose erectile dysfunction.
  • Use Viagra only with a doctor’s prescription and as directed. Never exceed the recommended dose or frequency.
  • Check with a pharmacist about potential drug interactions.
  • Seek immediate medical attention if priapism is suspected.

Viagra is an effective treatment for erectile dysfunction in men who use it appropriately. Unauthorized use of ED drugs can be dangerous and may lead to impotence and other serious medical complications. Always ask your doctor for advice whether PDE5 inhibitors are right for you.

References:

  1. http://www.emro.who.int/emhj-volume-17/volume-17-issue-7/article6.html
  2. https://www.drugs.com/slideshow/viagra-little-blue-pill-1043
  3. https://www.amjmed.com/article/S0002-9343(05)00257-3/fulltext
  4. https://www.independent.co.uk/news/hard-luck-viagra-can-cause-impotence-1076636.html
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22568639
  6. https://www.medicinenet.com/priapism_penis_disorder/article.htm#what_is_the_definition_of_priapism
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11933312
  8. http://www.urologyannals.com/article.asp?issn=0974-7796;year=2009;volume=1;issue=2;spage=67;epage=68;aulast=Sharma
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