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How Does Viagra Affect the Rest of Your Body?

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Viagra’s side effects are generally mild and may disappear altogether upon continued use.

Viagra facilitates erectile function by temporarily increasing blood flow to the penis, but some of its effects can be felt elsewhere in the body. Sildenafil citrate, the active ingredient in Viagra, is circulated through the bloodstream to virtually every corner of the body once the little blue pill has been broken down in your digestive tract.

The first of the so-called PDE5 inhibitors, Viagra optimizes vascular function by sidelining an enzyme known as phosphodiesterase-5, which can prevent robust blood flow, especially in men whose blood flow has already been compromised. In so doing, the medication allows a second messenger known as cyclic guanosine monophosphate, or cGMP, to do its job unimpeded. The primary job of cGMP is to send a message to the smooth muscle tissue lining artery walls to relax. As they relax, arteries expand, and blood flow increases. This temporarily increased blood flow makes it easier to get and keep and erection.

Why Target the Enzyme?

Under normal circumstances, the PDE5 enzyme breaks down cGMP, and in men whose vascular systems are compromised it can cut short the robust blood flow needed to achieve and sustain an erection. In men whose vascular health is sound, the body quickly replaces the cGMP that is broken down by the PDE5 enzyme. But in men with impaired blood flow, the enzyme breaks down cGMP faster than it can be replaced.

Given this dynamic, the overall systemic effect of Viagra on vascular function is to lower blood pressure and increase the volume of blood flow. For this reason, Viagra should never be taken with a nitrate-based drug, such as nitroglycerin, which also sharply lowers blood pressure. Taking these drugs together could cause a life-threatening hypotensive episode.

Some Experience Dizziness

One possible side effect of temporarily lower blood pressure can be dizziness, which generally subsides after a short time. However, in very extreme cases low blood pressure can lead to fainting, in which case it would be wise to consult your doctor about switching to a lower dose of the medication.

Although Viagra can be taken with or without food, its onset of effect can be delayed if you’ve eaten a heavy meal high in fat content. To maximize the drug’s effect and reduce your chances of stomach upset, another possible side effect, it’s probably best to take it on an empty stomach.

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Facial Flushing May Occur

The systemwide optimization of blood flow is also reflected in another common side effect of Viagra — facial flushing. Viagra increases blood flow into the tiny blood vessels closer to the skin’s surface.

In addition, many men taking Viagra report that the drug causes headaches, particularly the first few times it’s used. While generally mild and short-lived, in rare cases these headaches become so severe that men either switch to a lower dose or to another PDE5 inhibitor.

Viagra works by increasing blood flow and has no direct effect on the brain or psychological issues beyond a fleeting placebo effect that may arise because men taking the drug feel a temporary increase in confidence. Viagra will not increase sexual desire or lead to a spontaneous erection. You still will have to become aroused the old-fashioned way through feelings of sexual desire or physical stimulation of the genitals.

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Need a prescription for your next purchase of Viagra? You can get one by paying a visit to your regular doctor or through a complimentary online consultation with a licensed U.S. physician. If the latter option appeals to you, AccessRx.com, a longtime online facilitator, can set up such a consult, saving you the inconvenience and cost of a trip to the doctor’s office. To learn more, visit AccessRx’s Erectile Dysfunction page.

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About Don Amerman

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Don Amerman has spent more than three decades in the business of writing and editing. During the last 15 years, his focus has been on freelance writing. For almost all of his writing, He has done all of his own research, both online and off, including telephone and face-to-face interviews where possible. Don Amerman on Google+