Viagra, also available as a generic product called Sildenafil, is a medication that has been a game-changer for many individuals struggling with erectile dysfunction.

However, there are concerns and misconceptions about whether taking Viagra can put you at risk of sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

In this blog post, we’ll explore this topic so that anyone concerned about taking Viagra can make the best decisions for their health.

Understanding Viagra

Before addressing the potential link between Viagra and STIs, it’s essential to have a basic understanding of how Viagra works.

Viagra does not protect against STIs, nor does it increase the risk of contracting them. It is not an aphrodisiac or a medication that promotes sexual desire.

Viagra tablets contain the active ingredient known as sildenafil citrate, which is a type of medicine called a phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitor. It helps you to get and maintain an erection by helping more blood get into your penis when you’re sexually aroused.

Sildenafil stops an enzyme called phosphodiesterase type 5 (PDE5) from breaking down cyclic GMP. This allows the blood vessels in the penis to stay dilated for longer, which improves blood flow to the penis and helps produce and maintain an erection. You should still be able to get an erection for up to five hours after taking a dose.

Sildenafil will only work once the messengers responsible for producing an erection start to be produced. This means that you have to be sexually stimulated for sildenafil to produce and maintain an erection.

Viagra and STIs: what’s the connection?

The misconception regarding Viagra and STIs often stems from a misunderstanding of how these two aspects of sexual health are related. Taking Viagra itself doesn’t increase the likelihood of contracting an STI.

However, there are indirect factors that could potentially contribute to this misconception.

Increased sexual activity

Some men may experience more sexual encounters once they start using Viagra, given their improved ability to maintain an erection. An increase in sexual activity can potentially expose individuals to a higher risk of STIs if proper precautions, such as condom use, are not taken.

Psychological factors

A successful experience with Viagra can boost confidence, leading individuals to engage in more sexual activities without considering the importance of safe sex practices.

Alcohol and substance use

In some cases, individuals may mix Viagra with alcohol or recreational drugs, which can impair judgment and increase the likelihood of risky sexual behaviour, including unprotected sex.

Preventing STIs

It’s crucial to remember that the link between Viagra and STIs is primarily a matter of personal choices and behaviour.

To protect yourself from STIs, consider the following tips.

Safe sex practices

Always use condoms when engaging in sexual activity with a new partner or if there is any doubt about their sexual history.

Regular STI testing

Get tested for STIs regularly if you are sexually active and not in a committed monogamous relationship.

Open communication

Talk to your sexual partners about sexual health and be open about your concerns and boundaries.

Avoid mixing Viagra with alcohol or drugs

Alcohol and recreational drugs can impair judgment, increasing the risk of engaging in unsafe sexual practices.

Before taking Viagra

Viagra is available from doctors, clinics, pharmacies and over the internet. Despite it being so easily available, you should always discuss your circumstances with a doctor and get advice on the suitability of this medication and the dose that is appropriate for you before taking it. Taking Viagra does carry a risk of side effects which you need to be aware of before taking this medicine.

Final thoughts

Viagra does not directly increase the risk of contracting STIs. However, it may contribute to risky behaviours that make you more likely to contract an infection. The key to preventing STIs lies in practising safe sex, open communication with your sexual partners, and responsible decision-making.

If you think you may have been exposed to an STI, get tested with Better2Know. You can speak with our Sexual Health Advisors, who can help you find an STI test and clinic.

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