Since its inception back in 1998, Sildenafil, which is available under the brand name of Viagra, has become synonymous with the treatment for Erectile Dysfunction (ED). It belongs to a class of drugs that are known as phosphodiesterase-5 (PDE5) inhibitors, and was discovered by scientists working at the labs of famous pharmaceutical company Pfizer.

WHO-World-Health-Organization-viagraThe World Health Organization (WHO) has approved Sildenafil for treating patients suffering from Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension (PAH). Patients who suffer from PHA are most likely candidates for suffering from ED too, because PAH causes restricted flow of blood to various regions of the body, including a man’s genitals (penile region).

Restoring healthy blood flow

The penis is essentially just another muscle in a man’s body. It depends on a regulated and sustained flow of blood to function (i.e. get erect and stay that way). And that life blood to the penis is delivered through a series of arteries in the penile region.

The arteries depend on a substance called cyclic guanosine monophosphate (GMP) to help them to relax and widen, to enable unrestricted blood flow. But when there is excess PDE5 in the body, it (PDE5) breaks down GMP, causing interruption to the normal flow of blood to various parts of the body – including the penis.

When that happens:

  • a man may find it extremely difficult to produce an erection, even though he may be sexually stimulated and aroused
  • he may get an erection, but it might not be hard enough to perform most sexual activity
  • he may get an erection but, because of reduced blood flow to his penis, he may not be able to maintain it for too long

Essentially, PDE5 contributes to ED. And all of the symptoms described above can only be controlled by restoring the normal, healthy flow of blood back to the penis.

Sildenafil to the rescue!

pfizer-over-the-counterSildenafil, as contained in ED medication like Viagra, Revatio and several other trademarked drugs, helps patients with sexual dysfunction by inhibiting the function of PDE5. When inhibited, PDE5 is unable to restrict the functioning of GMP. And once the natural balance of GMP is restored by Sildenafil, the arteries in a man’s pineal muscles once again start expanding and relaxing, causing the normal flow of blood to the penis.

This restoration of normal blood flow to the penis then enables men to achieve and maintain an erection that’s hard enough, for long enough to perform normal sexual activity.

Knowing what to look out for

Like any medication, Sildenafil needs to be taken with care. While it is extremely effective at restoring a man’s sexual performance, it could also lead to side effects in some men. Some of the side-effects generally attributed to Sildenafil include:

  • Headaches
  • Nose Bleeds
  • Upset Stomach
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Numbness of the limbs
  • Tightness in the chest
  • Muscle aches

Sexual activity usually calls for extreme heart function, with the heart racing faster than normal because of arousal and stimulation. Men using Sildenafil should ensure that they are in fact healthy enough to perform sexual activity before they start taking the drug. And if someone taking Sildenafil notices they are suffering from any of the side effects described above, it would be prudent to cease any physical activity immediately and seek medical attention.