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Behind the Little Blue Pill: Debunking Myths About Viagra

Viagra® gained attention immediately in 1998 when it first hit United States markets. In 2018 alone, Viagra sales generated approximately $640 million in revenue. But as the first oral treatment for erectile dysfunction, its popularity also came with widespread myths and misinformation.

As a board-certified urologist and male fertility specialist, Dr. Mike Hsieh also serves as director of the Men’s Health Center at the University of California, San Diego. If you live with erectile dysfunction (ED), he’s ready to debunk these common myths surrounding the little blue pill.

MYTH: Viagra is bad for your heart

It may surprise you to learn that Viagra originally came about as a treatment for chest pain, also called angina. But early trials revealed an additional (and surprising) effect; it also produced stronger and more persistent erections. So, taking Viagra can actually help dilate constricted coronary arteries and lower your blood pressure. 

Today, doctors prescribe Viagra for erectile dysfunction and pulmonary arterial hypertension.

However, viagra cannot be combined with certain heart medications such as nitrates since it can cause an unsafe drop in blood pressure.  It is important to review your medication list with your prescribing doctor and pharmacist before starting viagra or any new medication.

MYTH: Viagra is dangerous

When taken as directed, Viagra is generally safe. Side effects typically affect less than 1 in 10 men and often include issues like headaches, indigestion, nausea, dizziness, and flushing. 

Before prescribing Viagra, Dr. Hsieh reviews your medical history, your symptoms, and any medications or supplements you take to determine the best ED treatment for you. 

MYTH: Viagra causes erections that last for hours

Contrary to popular belief, taking Viagra on its own doesn’t trigger hours-long erections, a condition known as priapism. However, priapism is typically due to taking too much Viagra or using it in combination with penile injection therapy.  

When you follow Dr. Hsieh’s instructions, you can expect your erection to subside shortly after having sexual intercourse. Your erection won’t last for hours, but Viagra can make it easier to achieve another one faster for up to four hours after you take one dose.

MYTH: Viagra increases your sex drive

Viagra works by improving blood flow to your penis. So while it can help trigger and maintain an erection, it can’t increase your sex drive or libido. Similarly, Viagra only produces an erectile response if you’re already sexually stimulated. That means Viagra won’t cause an erection if you aren’t aroused.

MYTH: Taking more Viagra gives better results

It’s easy to assume that more is better, but that couldn’t be further from the truth with Viagra. In fact, taking more Viagra than Dr. Hsieh prescribes can lead to serious side effects, including:

For best results with ED, take Viagra as directed — usually about an hour before becoming intimate, and with or without food. You should also avoid drinking large amounts of alcohol or eating high-fat foods, which can interfere with the effectiveness of the medication.

MYTH: Viagra is for old men

Sure, experiencing erectile dysfunction becomes more common with age. But the truth is that 30 million men of all ages live with this condition. 

Approximately 5% of men under 40 have complete ED, and those numbers increase to 15% by age 70. On top of that, mild-to-moderate ED also affects 10% of men per decade of life. That means 40% of 40-year-old men, 50% of 50-year-old men, and so on, have erectile dysfunction.

While erectile dysfunction may be difficult to talk about, solutions like Viagra can help at any age. To see if the little blue pill is right for you, contact our office in La Jolla, California, by calling 858-216-2771 or by requesting an appointment online today.

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