Interactions Between Viagra and Alcohol

By Zina Semenovskaya, MD
Medically reviewed
November 16, 2021

Erectile dysfunction (ED) affects roughly 30 million men in the United States, and Viagra (the name-brand version of sildenafil) is one of the safest and most popular medicines used to treat the condition.

Alcohol drinking is also very common: In 2019, more than 59% of men 18 and older reported drinking alcohol in the past month, and 29% reported binge drinking.

Most men know that a few drinks affects their ability to perform in the bedroom.

For some, alcohol helps them last longer; for others, it makes it harder to get and maintain an erection.

So it’s no wonder that many men want to know if it’s safe to drink alcohol when taking Viagra and if doing so will alter Viagra’s effectiveness. 

In this article, I’ll describe how alcohol interacts with Viagra as well as how drinking can play a role in impotence.

This information can help you can lead the healthy sex life that you desire. 

What Is Viagra?

Viagra is a brand-name prescription drug used to treat ED.

Because it’s been on the market the longest of any ED pill, its side effects and drug interactions are well known and it’s often the first-line ED medication recommended by doctors.

The active ingredient in Viagra is a phosphodiesterase-5 (PDE5) inhibitor called sildenafil citrate.

Sildenafil citrate blocks the enzyme PDE5 from breaking down cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cGMP).

This molecule is key for erections because it causes the penile muscles to relax and the blood vessels that go into the penis to widen.

Together, this increases blood flow to the penis, which can help men get and maintain better erections. 

Viagra is designed to be taken shortly before sexual activity.

It takes about 30 minutes to an hour to take effect and stays in your system for 4-5 hours.

At any time during that window, if a man is aroused, Viagra may help him become erect.

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Is it Safe to Take Viagra with Alcohol?

In many cases, Viagra is safe to take when you drink alcohol in moderation.

Still, it’s important that when you talk to your doctor about taking any ED medication, you’re honest about your alcohol consumption (as well as any current medications, your health history, and other lifestyle habits).

This way they can work with you to ensure that Viagra is the right choice and what dosage is best for you.

Even when taken as directed, Viagra can cause the following mild to moderate side effects: 

However, people who drink 15 or more alcoholic drinks a week while taking Viagra may be at a higher risk of side effects, especially if using Viagra recreationally (such as to try to boost sexual performance or confidence, rather than for medical purposes). 

What’s more, the type of alcohol you consume may impact your risk of side effects.

For example, one study showed that men who drank red wine did not experience any interactions while taking Viagra.

Lastly, alcohol abuse can slow blood flow.

Since Viagra works to increase blood flow to the penis, heavy drinking could reduce the effects of the medication.

Drug interactions

In addition to alcohol, Viagra can interact with certain medications.

Viagra may not be right for you if you:

  • Take nitrates (including nitroglycerin-based medication), alpha blockers, or other medication to treat hypertension
  • Have an underlying heart condition such as coronary heart disease or irregular heartbeats (unless otherwise cleared by your cardiologist)
  • Have had heart attacks or strokes
  • Have low blood pressure or high blood pressure

Impotence and alcohol

Alcohol is a depressant, which is why it may help you feel relaxed after a stressful or chaotic day.

Due to this effect, when enjoyed in moderation, alcohol may help men with performance anxiety or erectile dysfunction caused by psychological factors have more satisfying sex lives.

However, rather than relying on alcohol, it’s best to see a healthcare provider about these conditions, because a doctor can help you address the underlying causes.

Additionally, alcohol abuse negatively impacts sexual function.

Excessive alcohol consumption or regular binge drinking can disrupt blood circulation and nerve sensitivity, which can cause symptoms of erectile dysfunction.

In fact, one study looking at men with diagnosed alcohol dependence found that more than 72% of them experienced some form of sexual dysfunction.

When to See a Doctor

If symptoms of ED cause you distress, talk to your doctor.

They can determine if you have ED, what may be causing it, and if Viagra or another medication can help.

During the discussion, be honest about your alcohol intake to determine if you should continue drinking, make changes to your drinking habits, or try another ED medication. 

Also contact your healthcare provider if you take Viagra and have questions about the effects of your alcohol use on the medication.

How K Health Can Help

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Frequently Asked Questions

Can alcohol make Viagra not work?
Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol (15 or more drinks per week) can put you at a higher risk of side effects from Viagra. Alcohol abuse can also counteract the effects of Viagra by slowing certain functions of the body, including blood flow. This may make Viagra less effective.
Can alcohol cause erectile dysfunction?
In some cases, drinking excessive amounts of alcohol can contribute to erectile dysfunction and make it more difficult to get and maintain an erection when aroused.
Can you overdose on Viagra and alcohol?
It’s possible to overdose on Viagra and alcohol independently, which is why it’s important to follow recommended doses when taking Viagra and to drink alcohol in moderation, if at all.
K Health articles are all written and reviewed by MDs, PhDs, NPs, or PharmDs and are for informational purposes only. This information does not constitute and should not be relied on for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.

Zina Semenovskaya, MD

Dr. Semenovskaya specializes in emergency medicine, and received her medical degree from Weill Cornell Medical College. She is currently the medical director at Remote Emergency Medicine Consulting, LLC and splits her time working clinically as an emergency medicine attending in California and Alaska. She is the first of our doctors to be fluent in Russian.