Viagra is a medication commonly used to treat erectile dysfunction (ED). The medication works by enlarging the blood vessels in the penis, which allows for the inflow of blood needed to create an erection.

Many people are interested in what a drug contains to check for allergies or potentially dangerous drug interactions. Being aware of all active and inactive ingredients is important to understand the effects the drug could have.

Following is a description of the ingredients contained within Viagra, as well as an explanation of dangerous potential drug interactions.

Sildenafil

This is the active ingredient in Viagra. Sildenafil produces a release of nitrous oxide that in turn causes the blood vessels in the penis to enlarge during intercourse. The ingredient is also known as a vasodilator. Sildenafil Citrate is a compound made of crystalline that works by inhibiting the breakdown of the enzymes which are responsible for male ED.

This ingredient is considered effective for the treatment of ED. In fact, in eight large scale studies, Viagra was seen to improve erection as opposed to those on the placebo. The only way this drug works properly is with sexual stimulation, which acts as an activator for the drug. It should be noted that the active ingredient does not cure ED, it just treats the symptoms.

Sildenafil has also been shown, in preliminary studies, to help men who have depression that is induced by erectile dysfunction.

An additional use of the drug has been to treat pulmonary hypertension and conditions called Raynaud’s phenomenon. Sildenafil is used off label to treat vasospasms and severe ischemia and ulcers of the toes and fingers for those who have Raynaud’s.

When taken by mouth, Sildenafil takes an average time of twenty-seven to thirty minutes to onset of erection with sexual stimulation. When taken under the tongue, the onset of erection can occur within fifteen minutes and last around forty minutes. The drug is also available as a mouth spray for a faster onset of results.

Sildenafil is broken down by the liver and excreted through faeces and urine. If this drug is taken with a high fat meal, the absorption is seen to be reduced, as the body must first process the food before it can process the drug.

There are some side effects to this ingredient, as there are with all drugs. Here are some side effects that may occur:

  • Abnormal Vision
  • Indigestion
  • Diarrhoea
  • Flushing
  • Headache
  • Nasal Congestion
  • UTI

Inactive Ingredients

Also known as excipients, inactive ingredients are added to drugs to aid with ease of use and to support the effectiveness of the main ingredient. These ingredients don’t have any direct correlation to treating symptoms.

Below is the list of inactive ingredients that make up Viagra:

  • Anhydrous dibasic calcium phosphate
  • Microcyrstalline cellulose
  • Hypromellose
  • Titanium Dioxide
  • Lactose
  • Triacetin

Allergies to any of these ingredients should be discussed with the doctor before taking the medication.

 

Colouring Ingredients

The FDA has made claims that food colouring additives are safe, especially when used correctly. The colouring additive used in Viagra is FD&C Blue #2 Aluminium Lake. The FDA also states that consumers should not be concerned about this inactive ingredient.

Drug Interactions

 

Interactions with other drugs can cause an increase in risk for side effects or change how the medication works. It is important that the medication works as directed, so becoming knowledgeable on what not to take while taking Viagra is important.

Listed below are drug interactions to watch out for:

  • Sildenafil could cause a very serious drop in blood pressure if taken with nitrates. This could lead to fainting, dizziness, and in some rare cases stroke or heart attack.
  • Using Viagra with nitroglycerin, isosorbide, ‘poppers,’ amyl nitrite, or butyl nitrite is not recommended.
  • Taking medication for an enlarged prostate or high blood pressure, such as an alpha blocker (tamsulosin or doxaosin), could cause blood pressure to get dangerously low. This is not always the case if monitored by a doctor; a lower dose of Viagra may be given to reduce this risk.
  • Other medications can inhibit the excretion of Sildenafil from the body, which in turn could affect how it works. Examples of these medications include; azole antifungals, HIV protease inhibitors, macrolide antibiotics, hepatitis c protease inhibitors, rifampin, mifepristone and others. Always check with the doctor before starting new medications.
  • Also one should not take Viagra if taking any other product that has Sildenafil in it or other medications for erectile dysfunction or pulmonary hypertension.