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Learn more about erectile dysfunction

What is sildenafil?

Sildenafil is a medicine, taken in the form of a tablet, which can be used to treat symptoms of erectile dysfunction (ED) in men over the age of 18. Sildenafil is also sold under the brand name Viagra.

Sildenafil and Viagra contain the same active ingredient and work in the same way.

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If you have erectile dysfunction (ED), difficulty getting or keeping an erection, there is treatment and support available that can help, including medicines such as sildenafil. Start your consultation to find out which of our ED treatments is suitable for you.

4 tablets


(£3.75 per unit)

8 tablets


(£3.37 per unit)

12 tablets


(£3.33 per unit)

16 tablets


(£3.25 per unit)


We can talk to you privately about taking sildenafil so that you can decide if it's right for you.

Gill Stone - MRPharmS

How should I take sildenafil?

If you’ve decided to take sildenafil to treat your erection problems you should swallow one whole tablet with some water up to four hours before you want to have sex[1]. Don’t take more than one tablet a day[1]. 

Remember to read the instructions that come with the medicine carefully, or talk to your GP or a pharmacist if you’re not sure how to take sildenafil. They’ll be able to give you more information and support.

Sildenafil isn’t suitable for everyone, including people with some other health conditions such as heart problems[2]. Talk to your GP or a pharmacist about whether sildenafil is the best treatment option for you. 

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How long does it take for sildenafil to work?

It usually takes 30 to 60 minutes for sildenafil to work[1]. Most people take one tablet about an hour before they want to have sex. But everyone is different and for some people it may take more or less time to get an erection after taking sildenafil. 

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How does sildenafil work?

Sildenafil works by increasing blood flow to the penis[1]. This should help you get and keep an erection for sex or masturbation. 

You need to be sexually aroused for sildenafil to work. If you’re not sexually aroused, or your desire for sex is low (libido), then sildenafil may not be effective for you.

If you have a low libido, understanding the cause of this and getting help to increase your libido may change the way you think and feel about sex. This may then help improve your erection problems. 

Talk to your doctor if you have low libido. There is support available that may help, including talking to a professional such as a psychologist or counsellor. Your doctor may be able to refer you for counselling, or you can refer yourself through the NHS.

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What if sildenafil doesn't work for me or I don't want to take tablets?

Sildenafil may not work for everyone with erection problems. You might need to try many different treatments or a combination of treatments, for example medicine and counselling, before you find something that works well for you.

You may also get some side effects from taking sildenafil. Side effects[1],[2] can include:

  • headaches

  • sickness (nausea)

  • feeling dizzy

  • hot flushes

  • blurred vision.

Talk to your GP or a pharmacist if you experience any side effects after taking sildenafil. Find out more about all the possible side effects on the NHS website.

If sildenafil isn’t suitable for you, there are other treatment options available that may help. These include:

  • vacuum pump

  • injections

  • pellets 

  • cream. 

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Where can I get further support and information?
As well as talking to your GP for information and support, there are also a number of organisations and charities offering support and information.


  1. 1.

    Sildenafil (Viagra): medicine for erection problems. Published August 29, 2018. Accessed January 25, 2021.
  2. 2.

    Sildenafil 50mg film-coated tablets - Summary of Product Characteristics (SmPC) - (emc). Accessed January 26, 2021.