Viagra belongs to a class of medications known as phosphodiesterase type 5 (PDE 5) inhibitors and is prescribed to men with erectile dysfunction. When men become sexually stimulated, the penis becomes engorged with blood to produce an erection. This causes nitric oxide to be released and activates a substance called cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cGMP), which is responsible for controlling blood vessel size. The active ingredient in Viagra, called sildenafil citrate, blocks the destruction of cGMP so there is greater blood flow to the penis and an erection is attained and sustained. Viagra is ineffective without sexual stimulation as the nitric oxide is an essential component in achieving and maintaining an erection. Viagra is taken orally approximately 30 to 60 minutes before sexual activity.

The generic alternative of Viagra, called Sildenafil, is not manufactured by the company that makes the brand product.

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