If you’re thinking about taking Viagra, then you’re likely to be in a situation where you might want to have a drink to calm your nerves. Like many people, you’re probably wondering if the medication will still work after drinking alcohol.

One or two drinks won’t stop Viagra working, but excessive drinking is likely to prevent you from getting an erection, which is counter-productive. In this blog, we’ll look at the link between erectile dysfunction (ED) and alcohol, and ask, how much is too much? 

Alcohol and ED – is there a link? 

Alcohol is a depressant that interferes with blood circulation and nerve sensitivity, which are both crucial for achieving and maintaining an erection firm enough for sex.

Some experts also think that drinking too much can lower a man’s testosterone levels – the hormone most closely related to male sexuality. Additionally, alcohol can lead to inflammation of the prostate gland, which is a known cause of erectile dysfunction.  

Long-term alcohol abuse is also linked to other sexual dysfunction problems, such as premature ejaculation, loss of libido, and difficulty achieving orgasm. 

Overall, drinking a small amount of alcohol before sex is unlikely to affect your sexual performance, but the more you drink, the greater the risk of experiencing problems. 

Does Viagra work with alcohol?

Viagra isn’t directly affected by alcohol, but drinking too much could impact your ability to achieve an erection. To give Viagra the best possible chance of success, we recommend limiting how much you drink rather than abstaining completely. 

Researchers in 2004 found that the interaction between red wine and sildenafil citrate (the active ingredient in Viagra), did not affect blood flow¹. This is significant because Viagra works by dilating the vessels at the base of the penis to increase blood flow. 

What’s important to note here is that the study involved giving eight healthy men, 750ml of red wine (13.5% volume), which is equivalent to one bottle (10 units of alcohol). 

So, when it comes to mixing Viagra with alcohol, how much is too much, and does drinking excessively increase the risk of dangerous side effects? 

How much alcohol is too much? 

To get the most out of Viagra, you should only drink two to three units of alcohol before sex. Check the alcohol content of your drink for an accurate calculation, for example:

  • A small glass of wine is typically 1.5 units  
  • A bottle of beer is usually around 1.7 units 

So if you only have a small glass of wine then you can afford to have two, however, a large glass of wine (250ml) is double the number of units. For most people, one or two drinks is unlikely to affect Viagra in such a way that you would notice a difference. 

Viagra can’t combat the effects of excessive drinking, so if you go over the recommended amount, you may find that the ‘little blue pill’ you’ve taken is wasted.  

If you think you may have a problem with alcohol dependence, speak to your GP. They can offer medical advice, diagnosis or treatment to help you manage your drinking. 

Side effects and risks of Viagra

Like all prescription drugs, Viagra is not without its side effects, but consuming too much alcohol increases your risk of experiencing these unwanted symptoms. 

The most common side effects of Viagra include: 

  • Facial flushing 
  • Nasal congestion 
  • Headache  
  • Indigestion 
  • Nausea 

In 2019, a group of researchers looked at the effects of alcohol in men taking erectile dysfunction medication. They found that the higher the alcohol intake, the more likely the participants were to suffer side effects – notably a headache and facial flushing²

Viagra lowers your blood pressure, which can cause dizziness and light headedness. If it drops too much, you may even experience heart palpitations. 

The effects of alcohol are similar, so it might be assumed that by combining Viagra with alcohol your risk of experiencing these symptoms increases. 

Getting the most from Viagra  

For the best results, we recommend taking Viagra on an empty stomach an hour before you plan to have sex. You can expect it to take effect within 30 to 60 minutes. 

If you can’t avoid eating before you take Viagra then try to stick to a light meal. Too much food in your stomach can slow down the rate at which Viagra is absorbed, and you might find that its effects are delayed. You can expect Viagra to stay active in your system for around four to five hours, but you must be sexually stimulated for it to work. 

At least two thirds of men have an erection after taking Viagra³. Studies show that the active ingredient, sildenafil citrate, improves blood flow to the penis. If you find that it doesn’t work then you may need to try an alternative brand of medication.  

At Post My Meds, we also stock Cialis, Spedra, and Levitra.  

Viagra and alcohol – the verdict  

Though it’s generally considered safe to drink while taking Viagra, too much alcohol can itself cause erectile dysfunction. Excessive drinking also increases your risk of experiencing side effects, such as headaches, facial flushing, and nasal congestion. 

The best way to take Viagra is on an empty stomach an hour before sex. For maximum effect, limit your alcohol intake to one or two glasses, or two to three units.  

For advice on erectile dysfunction treatments, contact our medical team. We are on-hand to help, so you can get back to enjoying a healthier sex life. 

Although all of our content is written and reviewed by healthcare professionals, it should not be substituted for or used as medical advice. If you have any questions about your health, please speak to your doctor.

Authored Nov 25, 2021 by Joseph Issac, MPharm
Reviewed Nov 25, 2021 by Prabjeet Saundh, MPharm
References

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