sildenafil, Viagra

  • Pharmacy Author:
    Omudhome Ogbru, PharmD

    Dr. Ogbru received his Doctorate in Pharmacy from the University of the Pacific School of Pharmacy in 1995. He completed a Pharmacy Practice Residency at the University of Arizona/University Medical Center in 1996. He was a Professor of Pharmacy Practice and a Regional Clerkship Coordinator for the University of the Pacific School of Pharmacy from 1996-99.

  • Medical and Pharmacy Editor: Jay W. Marks, MD
    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD, is a board-certified internist and gastroenterologist. He graduated from Yale University School of Medicine and trained in internal medicine and gastroenterology at UCLA/Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

GENERIC NAME: sildenafil


DRUG CLASS AND MECHANISM: Viagra (sildenafil) is an oral drug that is used for treating impotence (or erectile disfunction, ED, the inability to attain or maintain a penile erection). It is in a class of drugs called phosphodiesterase inhibitors (PDE-5 inhibitors) that also includes

It has been estimated that impotence affects 140 million men worldwide. Over half of all men with impotence are thought to have some physical (medical) cause. The remainder are believed to have psychogenic causes of impotence. Medical causes of impotence include diabetes and circulatory, neurological, or urological conditions.

Penile erection is caused by the engorgement of the penis with blood. This engorgement occurs when the blood vessels delivering blood to the penis increase the delivery of blood and the blood vessels carrying blood away from the penis decrease the removal of blood. Under normal conditions, sexual stimulation leads to the production and release of nitric oxide in the penis. Nitric oxide then activates the enzyme, guanylate cyclase, which causes the production of cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cGMP). It is the cGMP that is primarily responsible for the erection by affecting the amount of blood that the blood vessels deliver and remove from the penis.

Viagra inhibits an enzyme called phosphodiesterase-5 (PDE5) which destroys the cGMP. Thus, Viagra prevents the destruction of cGMP and allows cGMP to accumulate and persist longer. The longer cGMP persists, the more prolonged the engorgement of the penis. The FDA approved Viagra in March 1998.

PRESCRIBED FOR: Viagra is used for the treatment of erectile dysfunction of either physical or psychogenic cause, and for pulmonary arterial hypertension.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 8/6/2015

Quick GuideErectile Dysfunction (ED) Causes and Treatment

Erectile Dysfunction (ED) Causes and Treatment
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