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Last updated January 3, 2020. 2 minute read

Should I take Viagra with food?

It’s not necessary to take Viagra (sildenafil) with food. In fact, taking Viagra soon after eating a heavy meal can delay absorption of the drug, which could make it less effective.

Self Written by Michael Martin
Reviewed by Dr. Mike Bohl, MD, MPH

Viagra is the brand name of sildenafil, an oral medication to treat erectile dysfunction (ED).

Viagra is a medication known as a PDE-5 inhibitor. It works by blocking cGMP-specific phosphodiesterase type-5 (PDE-5), an enzyme that causes an erection to subside by encouraging blood to flow out of the penis. When PDE-5 is inhibited, levels of cGMP remain high, which relaxes smooth muscle and encourages blood vessels to widen (a process known as vasodilation). That makes blood flow more freely, including to the penis.

Viagra’s effects aren’t instantaneous: You need to feel sexually aroused for it to work.

Vitals

  • It’s not necessary to take Viagra (sildenafil) with food.
  • In fact, taking Viagra soon after eating a heavy meal can delay absorption of the drug, which could make it less effective.
  • Viagra can be taken 30 minutes to four hours before sexual activity.
  • Talk with a healthcare provider about your medical history to determine the best way to take Viagra and to ensure it’s safe for you to take at all.

Should I take Viagra with food?

It’s not necessary to take Viagra with food.

In fact, if you take Viagra with a heavy, high-fat meal, it may take longer to work. That’s because a full stomach can delay the absorption of Viagra. A longer absorption time means that Viagra isn’t as concentrated in your blood, so it may not be as effective. That could mean your erection might come later than expected, be less strong than you expected, and not last as long as you would’ve liked.

Most other ED medications don’t require you to take them with food, either. These include Cialis, Stendra, Levitra, and Staxyn.

Viagra can be taken 30 minutes to four hours before sexual activity. You should always talk to your healthcare provider about when you should take Viagra to achieve the best results for you.

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Should I eat a large meal before sex?

Eating a large meal before sex isn’t a great idea, regardless of which medication you’re taking. When you eat a big meal, you naturally divert blood flow to your stomach and intestines to help with digestion. That means you have less potential blood flow to give you a firm, lasting erection. A heavy meal may also cause indigestion or make you sleepy, two other factors that can make your erectile function less-than-spectacular. It’s not a huge deal, but a big meal before sex isn’t the best way to get a strong erection.

Medical conditions such as liver and kidney disease can change the way your body absorbs Viagra, and certain drugs can interact with Viagra. It’s important that you talk with a healthcare provider about your medical history and all medications and supplements you’re currently taking. You may need a lower starting dose, or Viagra may not be safe for you to take at all.

For example, people with liver and kidney disease may need the lowest starting dose, and people on drugs called nitrates for certain heart conditions and riociguat for the treatment of pulmonary arterial hypertension should not take Viagra. To learn more, read this important safety information about Viagra.