When it comes to erectile dysfunction (ED) medications, you may want discreet, simple, and cost-effective choices that work. Or you may have a difficult time swallowing Viagra pills. These are some reasons why you might be looking into alternative options for Viagra oral tablets.

Chewable Viagra isn’t currently approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the United States. Only film-coated oral tablets in 25 milligrams (mg), 50 mg, and 100 mg are FDA approved for ED.

While chewable Viagra isn’t FDA approved in the United States, you may be able to get sildenafil, the generic version of Viagra, as a compounded medication. A compounded medication is one that’s custom-made for you.

Read on to learn more about the different types of Viagra, how they work for ED, and whether they’re safe.

Chewing Viagra doesn’t make it work faster. This is because tablets that you swallow or chew still have to be broken down in your digestive tract and go through several more steps before they start working.

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Viagra and sildenafil have the same active ingredient and work the same way. Brand-name Viagra is more expensive than generic sildenafil, but they’re equally effective.

This is because generic versions have to prove they’re safe and effective to the FDA before they’re approved for sale in the United States.

Sildenafil and Viagra pills may look different

The size, color, and shape of a tablet doesn’t affect how it works, but brand products like Viagra usually have distinct shapes, colors, and markings to help market them.

Sildenafil is approved for more than ED

Viagra is only approved for treating ED, but generic sildenafil is approved to treat both ED and pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH).

Sildenafil is available in other forms

Sildenafil is also available as an oral suspension and injectable for use by medical professionals.

Compounding is an option for people when an FDA-approved product isn’t available. These are custom medications made from active ingredients based on a doctor’s prescription.

For example, a pharmacist can transfer the dosage from a tablet to a liquid or create a custom dosage strength based on a doctor’s prescription.

It’s important to remember that compounded medications aren’t FDA approved.

According to Jeremy Kahn with the Office of External Affairs at FDA, “Generally, compounded drugs are not FDA approved. This means that FDA does not verify the safety or effectiveness of compounded drugs. Compounded drugs also lack an FDA finding of manufacturing quality before such drugs are marketed.”

Compounded medications have different quality standards depending on where they’re made, whether that be a doctor’s office, state-licensed pharmacy, or outsourced federal facility.

Since Viagra and other ED medications are commonly sold as counterfeit online, it’s important to talk to a doctor about all your ED treatment options. This can help you avoid the risks of buying fake Viagra.

A 2017 study has shown that the oral sildenafil citrate tablet and the chewable sildenafil citrate take the same amount of time to start working and are equally effective.

But keep in mind that quality can vary with compounded medications. That’s why choosing a reputable pharmacy is important if you decide to try chewable Viagra.

Other studies, including one from 2017, one from 2019, and one from 2020, compared sildenafil oral film-coated tablets (FCT) to oral disintegrating film formulations (ODF) and showed they had equal effectiveness and similar side effects. Right now, ODF Viagra or sildenafil aren’t available in the United States.

Keep in mind

How well or fast a medication works depends on many factors including genetics, age, other health conditions, other medications you take, and even how you take it (for example, whether you take it on an empty or full stomach).

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Viagra and sildenafil oral tablets won’t work faster under your tongue

Viagra tablets and generic sildenafil are meant to be swallowed. These tablets aren’t designed to work under the tongue.

Other forms of sildenafil can work under the tongue

A 2018 study comparing sildenafil sublingual (under the tongue) oral dissolving film (ODF), oral dissolving tablets (ODT), and oral film-coated tablets (FCT) found the ODF formulation was absorbed the fastest, started working within an hour and had fewer side effects.

One reason they start working faster is because the ODF formulations don’t go through the digestive tract to be broken down. The medication is designed to be absorbed by the blood vessels under your tongue and get into your bloodstream quicker.

But sublingual and dissolving sildenafil aren’t in the U.S.

Sublingual and oral dissolving film tablets aren’t available in the United States right now.

If you’ve tried Viagra and it didn’t seem to work, don’t give up right away. It can take trying it a few times before you know the best timing and dose for you.

This is because medications work a bit differently in each of us. Your doctor may be able to adjust your dose if it didn’t work after a few tries or offer other choices to consider.

There are other treatment options that you can discuss with your doctor.

Other types of PDE5 inhibitors include:

  • avanafil (Stendra)
  • tadalafil (Cialis)
  • vardenafil (Staxyn, Levitra)

Other ED solutions include:

  • alprostadil (Caverject, Edex, MUSE)
  • testosterone
  • lifestyle changes

The best way to take Viagra is on an empty stomach or with a light meal 30 to 60 minutes before engaging in sexual activity. The effects can last up to 4 hours. Remember, Viagra only works with arousal or stimulation.

Don’t take more than one dose in a 24-hour period.

Tips for taking Viagra

Some tips on taking Viagra include the following:

  • Avoid eating fatty foods with Viagra because it can slow down how quickly the medication starts to work.
  • Avoid drinking grapefruit juice with Viagra because it can interact with the medication.
  • Avoid drinking excess alcohol, as it can affect your ability to get an erection.
  • Don’t take Viagra if you’re currently on nitrate medications for your heart or alpha blockers for high blood pressure.
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Common side effects of Viagra include:

  • headache
  • indigestion
  • upset stomach
  • stuffy nose
  • dizziness
  • back pain

Talk to your doctor if you experience any serious side effects, such as:

  • chest pain
  • priapism (an erection lasting longer than 4 hours)
  • sudden change in vision or hearing

Call 911 if you experience symptoms of a serious allergic reaction, such as:

  • swelling of tongue, face, or mouth
  • rash or swelling of skin
  • trouble breathing
  • wheezing
  • chest tightness
  • pain

Viagra was the first ED medication introduced way back in 1996. It’s been very successful and has helped millions of men get or keep an erection.

Viagra is available as oral tablets in three strengths, but a pharmacist can also compound it in other dosage forms, like a chewable or liquid version.

Chewable Viagra doesn’t work any faster than oral tablets you swallow whole.

ED is a common condition that affects millions of men and has many causes, both psychological and physical. This is why it’s important to get a medical diagnosis to find out what may be causing your ED. A doctor can help you find the best ED treatment based on your age, overall health, and lifestyle.