Viagra Is Not Working: What Does It Mean?

Viagra is a medication commonly used to treat erectile dysfunction (ED). However, you may be wondering why it’s not working for you.

In this article, we’ll cover the side effects of Viagra, why it’s stopped working, and what to do when it’s ineffective.

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What causes an erection?

An erection, which generally occurs from mental or physical stimulation, occurs when feelings of arousal cause the muscles of the penis to relax, allowing blood to pool into the corpus cavernosum, spongy tissue in the shaft of the penis.

When that occurs, the blood in the penis causes pressure to build and expand, resulting in an erection.

The sheath surrounding the corpus cavernosum helps stop the blood from leaving the penis, thus keeping the erection from disappearing too quickly.

An erection is reversed when the muscles of the penis contract, stopping any blood from flowing into the penis and opening the channels for blood to leave the penis.

What causes erectile dysfunction?

Erectile dysfunction¹ occurs when a male is unable to keep an erection firm enough for satisfactory sexual intercourse. This can result in mental stress and anxiety, which can have a negative effect on their love life.

If you’re worried about erectile dysfunction and feel isolated because of it, be aware that up to 30 million men in the US² feel the same way due to this extremely common disorder.

Erectile dysfunction can be caused by many factors. Understanding why you are experiencing problems can sometimes be complex and difficult to determine. The majority of reasons for erectile dysfunction, however, can be classified into three main groups:

  • Physical mechanisms

  • Emotions and mental blocks

  • Problems with sensations

A person's erectile dysfunction can be caused by one or more of these factors.

Many medical conditions, lifestyle choices, and/or medications can also cause erectile dysfunction.

However, there are several ED treatments available. The most common one is Viagra, also known as the “little blue pill.”

What is Viagra?

How does Viagra work?

Viagra comes in two strengths: 50mg and 100mg. You can take them orally up to four hours before sexual intercourse.

Viagra increases the blood flow to the penis by relaxing the nerves and muscles in the penis, allowing more blood to enter the corpus cavernosum, resulting in an erection.

How to get better results with Viagra

Some factors can have an impact on the effectiveness of Viagra. You can regulate some of them to ensure the best results.

The first thing you can do is to avoid eating a large or high-fat meal or consuming alcohol before taking it since that can affect the absorption of Viagra into the bloodstream.

Additionally, you should never expect Viagra to work directly after taking it. It may take 30–60 minutes for Viagra to be effective, so taking the pill too close to sexual intercourse will only end in disappointment.

For maximum effect, it is recommended that you take Viagra around an hour before sexual intercourse.

Side effects of Viagra

Viagra, as with all medications, can have some side effects. Below are the more common, mild side effects from Viagra and the rarer, more serious side effects.

Mild side effects

  • Dizziness

  • Headaches

  • Flushing

  • Upset stomach

Serious side effects

  • Fainting

  • Vision loss

  • Allergic reactions

  • Seizures

  • Hearing loss or ringing in the ears

  • Erection lasting more than four hours

  • Vision changes such as sensitivity to light, blurred vision, and difficulty distinguishing between blue and green colors

It is important to note that if you experience serious side effects, you should consult your doctor to decide if Viagra is right for you.

Why has Viagra stopped working?

Low testosterone levels

Testosterone, the male sex hormone, is produced in the testes by Leydig cells and is necessary for the growth and development of male organs and maintaining sexual characteristics.

After about the age of 30, male testosterone levels begin to drop, which can result in multiple side effects. They include the loss of muscle mass, hair loss, mood swings, and erectile dysfunction.

Viagra cannot replace testosterone levels, so when those levels drop too low, Viagra cannot stimulate enough blood flow into the penis to make up for the drop in hormone levels. That results in Viagra no longer working as well as it should or failing to work at all.

STDs

It is important to mention that as beneficial as Viagra is, it cannot protect you against contracting an STD (sexually transmitted disease). You can contract an STD during intercourse, and depending on the type of STD, that can result in erectile dysfunction³ that Viagra cannot take care of.

Therefore, it is very important to always practice safe sex. If you contract an STD, be sure to see a doctor and follow their recommendations to treat the infection.

Diabetes

When it comes to the effectiveness of Viagra, many factors may be in play.

One of these is diabetes. Erectile dysfunction is prominent in diabetics due to decreased blood flow and nerve damage in the penile area.

Although Viagra tends to work in diabetic patients initially, prolonged damage to the blood vessels and nerves due to diabetes results in Viagra losing its effectiveness.

Diabetes may also affect the natural absorption of orally ingested Viagra, making it more difficult for enough Viagra to enter the system to cause an erection.

Low dosage or incorrect usage

When it comes to erectile dysfunction and Viagra use, sometimes the dose is important. Viagra generally comes in two doses.

Doctors usually recommend that a patient start on the lowest dose. If it works, that is more beneficial to the patient. However, in many cases, the lowest dose may not be enough for the desired effect, so a higher dose may be recommended.

Incorrect use of Viagra may also significantly impact its effectiveness. Taking Viagra right before sexual intercourse may not give the drug enough time to work. It's best to take Viagra an hour or even two hours before sexual intercourse to allow enough time for the drug to take effect.

Another factor that may impact the effectiveness of Viagra is taking the pill after a high-fat meal. This kind of food decreases the absorption of Viagra into the bloodstream, resulting in Viagra taking much longer to take effect, if at all.

If you’re planning to drink alcohol before taking Viagra, you might want to reconsider since alcohol decreases the flow of blood, thus reducing the effectiveness of Viagra.

Giving up too early

When it comes to medication not working, sometimes it's a case of persevering. It's easy to try a medication only once and throw it out as soon as it doesn’t work.

When it comes to Viagra, it is recommended to try it at least ten times since many factors can influence how or if the drug works, including performance anxiety or even inappropriate use, such as taking it too close to intercourse.

Why doesn't Viagra always work?

For an erection to occur, nerves in the penis need to be activated, and enough blood has to fill the corpus cavernosum. If either of these steps fails, it can result in erectile dysfunction, which Viagra may or may not be able to overcome.

Performance anxiety, depression, or mental blocks that impact sexual arousal may also create erectile dysfunction. In that case, Viagra will not work since sexual arousal is needed for an erection to occur. When stimulation, feelings, or physical mechanisms aren't present, Viagra may not work.

Additionally, you may have severe health concerns such as diabetes or heart problems. These diseases may impact the nerves or blood vessels so Viagra will not have any effect.

How long does Viagra take to work?

The Viagra website claims that the drug takes a minimum of 12 minutes and an average of 30 minutes to work if you're sexually stimulated. It will also continue to work up to four hours after taking it.

What to do if Viagra doesn't work anymore

Although Viagra is the most well-known erectile dysfunction medication available, it is not the only treatment. Depending on your situation, other treatments for erectile dysfunction may work better for you.

Try another similar drug

Viagra is a PDE5 inhibitor. It may be worth trying another PDE5 inhibitor since they are all slightly different in use and outcome. Examples of other drugs you can use are:

  • Vardenafil

  • Tadalafil

  • Avanafil

The benefit of these drugs is that some can be taken every day long-term and are effective for longer. This may be beneficial for people who experience anxiety about taking a pill before intercourse.

Try a penile injection

If PDE5 inhibitor drugs don't work, there are other options you can try. A penile injection delivers fast-acting, highly effective erectile dysfunction drugs such as alprostadil, papaverine, and phentolamine.

However, an injection may be mildly uncomfortable and have the possibility of swelling or some mild pain. Surgery is also an option where an inflatable, implanted device can help maintain an erection.

Address other underlying health conditions

If your erectile dysfunction is caused by a health problem such as low testosterone or diabetes, it may be worth treating that first. This may benefit not just your overall health but also treat or cure your erectile dysfunction.

Use wearable devices

Wearable devices and pumps can also be used. They stimulate blood flow into the penis, resulting in an initial erection. Once there is an erection, constricting devices can then stop blood from leaving the penis, resulting in the desired response.

Talk to a therapist

If your erectile dysfunction is caused by mental blocks or psychological disorders, it could also be helpful to make an appointment with a therapist to work through any mental blocks that are stopping you from performing sexually.

Make lifestyle changes

Lifestyle changes may also have an impact on your erectile dysfunction. By eating healthily, exercising, and avoiding substances that may affect ED, you may be able to improve or even reverse your symptoms.

When to visit a doctor

Sometimes the reason you have erectile dysfunction may be due to other underlying conditions. If this is the case, it's best to visit your doctor since treatment for these health concerns may be your only option to treat your erectile dysfunction.

If you experience any serious side effects from erectile dysfunction medication, see a doctor as soon as possible.

The lowdown

If your erectile dysfunction is not responding to Viagra, there are still many options available to you.

Alternatives such as other PDE5 inhibitors, injections, implants, wearables, surgery, therapy, and lifestyle changes can always be tailored to your specific needs by your doctor or GP to determine the right plan for you.

  1. Erectile dysfunction (ED) | NIH: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases

  2. Definition & facts for erectile dysfunction | NIH: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases

  3. Chlamydia and erectile dysfunction: What's the link? | Medical News Today

Other sources:

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