Viagra Connect: What you need to know

 

From 11th January 2021, Viagra Connect has become available to purchase as an over-the-counter medicine from pharmacies in Ireland, having previously been subject to a prescription by a doctor. Viagra Connect is a medication used to treat Erectile Dysfunction in men. It contains the ingredient sildenafil at a dose of 50mg. Erectile Dysfunction is a topic that is most definitely brushed under the carpet and not openly discussed but here at Meaghers Pharmacy, we are happy to start an open discussion on this important topic. This move of Viagra Connect from prescription only to being available over the counter is welcomed by the Meaghers Pharmacy team and we look forward to providing men with access to this medication as well as information and advice.

What is Erectile Dysfunction?

Erectile Dysfunction (ED) is defined as the inability to get and to keep an erection long enough for satisfactory sex. Many men will occasionally have difficulty getting an erection however, ED is the term used if this is a recurring or persistent issue. It is something that can occur at any age, but it becomes more common as men get older. It affects over half of men over the age of 50 and up to 26% of men under the age of 40. This high prevalence in our communities is why it is so important to open up the discussion around this topic.

ED can be caused by physical causes, psychological causes or some forms of medications. Physical factors include diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol or heart disease. Psychological factors include performance anxiety, stress, depression or lack of arousal. Medications causing ED can include some cardiovascular drugs, some antidepressants and alcohol. It is important to note that ED can be caused by any of the above but is often a combination of physical and psychological factors.

Viagra Connect is one of the most widely used and well-known medications to treat ED worldwide. However, it is important that men taking Viagra Connect see their doctor within six months of taking the medication in order to rule out any physical underlying causes as it can be an early warning sign of some serious medical conditions.

Who is Viagra Connect Suitable for?

Only adult men aged 18 years or older who have Erectile Dysfunction (ED) can use Viagra Connect. You do not need to have been previously diagnosed with ED by your GP in order to purchase Viagra Connect from a pharmacy. However, our pharmacist will need to make sure Viagra Connect is suitable for you. This will be determined through a brief consultation where you will be asked about a few questions in relation to your health and any medication you may be taking.

How to ask for Viagra Connect

Viagra Connect must only be sold to the person who it is intended for. That person can come into any Meaghers pharmacy and ask to speak with one of our pharmacists. You do not need to make an appointment. The pharmacist will then engage in a brief consultation with you to ensure that the medication is suitable and safe for you. The pharmacist will use a consultation guide to assist with this, which is a tick the box form. At the end of the consultation with the pharmacist, the medication will be sold to you if it is deemed suitable, along with a tear off slip that can be presented again if you require a subsequent supply without having to re-do the full consultation. If Viagra is not deemed safe for you, the pharmacist will recommend that you see a doctor and provide you with a referral slip for this.

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How Viagra Connect Works

Viagra Connect helps men to attain and maintain an erection after being sexually stimulated. It works by stopping the enzyme PDE5 from breaking down cGMP to GMP. cGMP is needed for the erection to be formed and maintained. By preventing its breakdown to GMP the erection will form and will be maintained in order for sexual activity to occur. Without being sexually stimulated Viagra Connect will not have any effect.

How to take Viagra Connect

One Viagra Connect tablet should be taken one hour before the anticipated sexual activity. The tablet should be swallowed whole with water. It can be taken with or without food however, taking this medication with a fatty meal can cause it to take longer to work. It is important not to take this medication if you take grapefruit juice as grapefruit juice can increase the amount of this medication that reaches your bloodstream. It will start to become effective after 30 minutes and can work for up to four hours. The medication does require sexual stimulation to have the desired effect. Studies have shown that a dose of 50mg of Viagra Connect is 74% effective in providing men with satisfactory erections. In the other 16% it may be the case that they require a higher dose or an alternative treatment and they should consult their doctor for this. 

Side Effects

Viagra Connect is mostly well tolerated however, like all medications there can be some side effects associated with it which are important to highlight. These side effects can vary from mild to severe. The side effects that can be serious and require the patient to stop taking the medication and consult a doctor are:

  • Chest pain, dizziness or feeling faint or nauseous after
  • A persistent or painful erection that lasts more than four
  • A sudden loss or decline of vision or
  • An allergic reaction such as trouble breathing, dizziness or swelling of the airways, mouth, face or
  • Severe skin reactions that include blistering, swelling and peeling of the skin
  • Seizure

Other milder side effects that can be caused by taking Viagra Connect are:

  • Headache
  • Flushing
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Nasal congestion
  • Visual disturbance

Viagra Connect is not suitable for:

There are many reasons why Viagra Connect may not be suitable. Following a consultation with one of our pharmacists we will be able to determine if it is suitable for you. The main contraindications are:

  • Men aged under 18 years
  • Women
  • Allergies to sildenafil or any other ingredients
  • Uncontrolled low blood pressure
  • Liver impairment
  • Renal impairment
  • Deformities of the penis
  • Sickle cell anaemia
  • Leukaemia
  • Vision loss in one eye
  • Certain eye disorders
  • Haemophiliac patients
  • Men with active stomach ulcers
  • Certain cardiovascular issues
  • Certain other medications

General Advice

ED can be caused by underlying conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol or heart disease and therefore it is important to ensure that all men who are suffering with ED consult their doctor within six months of starting this medication for a clinical review for any underlying conditions or risk factors.

Additional advice that our pharmacists can give people starting on this medication that may also help with ED can include weight management, healthy eating, regular exercise, stress management, smoking cessation, addressing alcohol consumption and drug use.

Our team is always here to help in any way that we can. If you have any questions on this topic or would like to discuss this with a member of our expert pharmacist team, please contact our helpline on 01 485 3098 or email help@meagherspharmacy.ie.

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