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Viagra, also known as the “little blue pill,” is the brand name of an erectile dysfunction (ED) medication.

Approved for medical use in the late 90s, the medication skyrocketed in popularity and became the go-to prescription medication for people wanting to treat ED.

ED, a condition that makes it challenging to get or maintain an erection, is common. According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), around 30 million men in the United States experience ED. The condition tends to affect older adults, but it can also occur in people under 40 years old.

Viagra is an effective treatment option for the condition. But getting your hands on it requires a prescription. Keep reading to find out more about Viagra and where to get it in person and online.

Talk with a doctor

ED can occur for many reasons, including underlying health conditions. Before you start taking any medication, it’s a good idea to connect with a doctor to determine whether there’s something else going on, and if there’s another treatment to consider before taking medication.

Viagra is a prescription drug that treats ED. The main active ingredient is sildenafil, which is the generic form of Viagra.

Sildenafil helps with ED by increasing blood flow to the penis. This allows you to get and keep an erection when sexually aroused.

The brand-name drug was initially manufactured by Pfizer. But since the patent expiration, other companies now produce and sell less expensive generic versions of the medication.

Viagra primarily treats ED. It’s approved to treat ED in adult males.

This drug works by allowing more blood to flow into the penis. It normally works within 1 hour after it’s taken. Over time, Viagra is then slowly removed from the body. About 4 hours after taking a dose, the body will have cleared half of the dose.

The generic version of Viagra, sildenafil, is also used to treat pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH).

Yes. You need a prescription for both Viagra and generic sildenafil.

You can get a prescription either in person or online. With an ever-growing number of telehealth companies providing remote services, it’s easier than ever to skip an in-person doctor’s visit and request a prescription online.

Keep in mind that you’ll still need to make sure the doctor you’re talking with knows about any other medications you’re taking and if you have additional symptoms.

If you’d like to get a Viagra prescription in person, you can talk with your doctor. Make sure they’re up to date on any medications or supplements you’re taking.

Your doctor will also ask you about other symptoms you might be experiencing. ED is common, but it can occur for various reasons, including underlying medical conditions.

Once you have a prescription, you can fill it at your pharmacy. You can also ask your doctor to send the prescription directly to your nearest pharmacy.

Cost

Pricing depends on whether you’re prescribed the brand-name or generic version.

According to Drugs.com, the price for two 100-milligram (mg) tablets of brand-name Viagra is around $150. You’ll pay significantly less for the generic version — around $27 for ten 100-mg tablets, depending on your pharmacy.

Most insurance companies do not cover Viagra prescriptions. But Medicare and some private insurance plans may cover generic forms. Always check with your insurance company first to avoid a surprise at the pharmacy checkout. You can also check out GoodRx.com to find a pharmacy near you that has the lowest price.

Many online companies say they sell Viagra, but there are many counterfeit Viagra pills out there. That’s why it’s important to buy from a reputable company.

Each company we recommend undergoes a thorough vetting process. During this process, a team of experts carefully evaluates companies based on quality, accessibility, cost, and availability. This allows us to give you strong recommendations for products that offer good value for your money.

We also ensure that sponsors and business partners never influence our content.

In addition, we reviewed Better Business Bureau (BBB) ratings, where applicable, and checked to make sure none of these brands have Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warning letters.

You can’t get Viagra without a prescription, so we also made sure to only include brands that require a consultation with a healthcare professional before you can get your hands on a prescription.

In the next section, you’ll see a few different options on how to get Viagra online. We chose these companies because they have positive brand reputations, good user reviews, and discreet shipping.

Most convenient way to get Viagra online

Hims

  • What’s offered: Brand-name and generic versions of Viagra. There are also other ED treatments and medications for premature ejaculation.
  • Price: $70 per pill, or $3 per dose for sildenafil pills. There’s also a $5 medical fee tacked onto the first purchase.
  • Doses: 25, 50, and 100 mg

To get started with Hims, you’ll first fill out your info online. A licensed healthcare professional will review your information and get back to you to complete the free consultation.

The initial consultation is completed via messaging. The doctor will assess your symptoms and medical history. They may also ask follow-up questions in the secure online message portal. If they determine ED medication is right for you, they’ll provide a prescription plan. Getting a prescription typically takes about 24 hours.

This is the most expensive option on our list because Hims sells both Viagra and sildenafil in packs of five or six. However, the cost per dose is similar to the other services we featured: $70 for Viagra and $3 for sildenafil.

Customers give the company mixed reviews. Some negative reviews complain about shipping and billing issues, but they rarely complain about the medications.

Pros

  • It’s convenient, private, and quick.
  • The subscription model means you don’t have to actively think about ordering your next prescription.

Cons

  • Online visits might not be as comprehensive as in-person ones.
  • Online physicians don’t have your complete medical history unless you tell them.

Best way to get Viagra and other ED treatments online

Roman

  • What’s offered: Generic and brand-name Viagra, as well as other ED medications.
  • Price: Sildenafil starts at $2 per dose, and Viagra starts at $70 per dose.
  • Doses: 25, 50, and 100 mg for Viagra and 20, 40, 60, 80, and 100 mg for sildenafil

To use Roman, you need to have been seen by a healthcare professional for any reason within the last 3 years. You’ll fill out an initial questionnaire that a licensed doctor or nurse practitioner will review, usually in 24 hours.

After this, you have the choice of chatting with a physician by phone, video, or messaging. Each visit costs $15, not including any prescriptions.

Shipping is discreet and quick. Customers seem mostly happy with the service. However, some complain about unauthorized renewal charges and slow shipping.

On the BBB website, Roman has an A+ rating, and the company has responded to each complaint in detail.

Pros

  • No in-person appointment is required.
  • Monthly subscription service is convenient.

Cons

  • Service isn’t available in all states.
  • Might not be worth it if you have good insurance.

Best way to get affordable sildenafil pills

Lemonaid

  • What’s offered: There’s generic sildenafil, as well as a range of other services.
  • Price: You’ll pay $2 per 20-mg pill.
  • Dose: 20 mg

To get a sildenafil prescription through Lemonaid, you need to complete an online appointment with one of the service’s doctors or nurse practitioners. If you’re given a prescription, the company will send it to a partner pharmacy. The partner pharmacy will then deliver it to you for free.

Although their mail-order pharmacy doesn’t take insurance, you can take your prescription to your pharmacy and avoid up-front costs if you have insurance.

The majority of reviewers are happy with Lemonaid telehealth services, describing it as fast and affordable. However, some people complain about long wait times and customer service issues.

Pros

  • It’s easy to use.
  • Affordable.

Cons

  • There’s no insurance coverage.
  • It’s not available in every state.

Best alternative to Viagra

Eddie by Giddy

  • What’s offered: This is a wearable ED device.
  • Price: $188 for a single pack or $376 for a 2-pack every 4 months.

This alternative to ED medication is an FDA-registered class 2 device. It provides compression around the penis to help maintain blood flow, making it possible to keep an erection. It does this without constricting the urethra or arteries.

Unlike a cock ring, the Eddie product by Giddy is easy to remove, thanks to its adjustable band design.

Shipping is free. If it doesn’t work for you, you can return the device or get it resized for free.

The device has mixed reviews online. The most common complaint is that it’s tough to get the sizing right. The company has responded to most of the complaints.

Pros

  • There’s no need to worry about drug interactions or side effects.
  • The device is designed to enhance your partner’s pleasure.
  • Made to be easy to remove.

Cons

  • Not everyone is comfortable wearing this type of device.

Cheapest alternative to Viagra

Maintain Constriction Loop for ED and PE

  • What’s offered: This is a wearable device.
  • Price: $27.49 for a single device

If you’re not interested in taking medications or you’re worried about the potential side effects, consider this non-medicinal option.

This constriction loop device is designed to help with PE and ED. By placing it around the penis, you can maintain an erection for longer. The fit is also customizable and the device is free of latex.

Keep in mind the manufacturer recommends replacing the device every 6 months or when it starts to show signs of wear.

Pros

  • The fit is customizable.
  • There’s no need to worry about medication side effects.

Cons

  • You’ll have to replace the device about every 6 months.
  • Some folks may not be comfortable wearing this type of device.

Take Viagra as directed. While there are various dosages available, it’s important not to take more than directed.

While Viagra is considered safe to use, some people may experience side effects, such as:

  • headaches
  • flushing
  • stomach troubles
  • stuffed or runny nose
  • back and muscle pain
  • dizziness

Serious side effects that require emergency attention include:

  • chest pain
  • trouble breathing
  • vision changes
  • prolonged erection, lasting 4 hours or more

Additionally, some medications can interact negatively with Viagra. Examples include:

  • antibiotics
  • nitrates
  • antivirals
  • blood pressure medications

Always tell your doctor about the medications and supplements you’re taking. Some drug interactions cause severe or fatal side effects.

Like most medications, Viagra has side effects that range from mild to severe. Due to these severe, but rare, side effects, Viagra requires a prescription.

Some of these potentially hazardous effects include increased cardiac risk, especially for those with preexisting cardiovascular conditions, prolonged erections and priapism, vision and hearing loss, hypotension, and others.

To avoid any complications, speak with your doctor about taking Viagra, whether it’s the brand name or generic. They could have alternative suggestions that could be beneficial to you in the long run.

How to get ViagraBest forPriceGeneric, brand name, or both?Doses offered (mg)Initial consult?
Doctor’s officein-person prescription$150 for two brand-name 100-mg tablets;
$27 for ten generic-brand 100-mg tablets
bothbased on doctor’s recommendationyes
Himsconvenience$70 per pill;
$3 per generic pill
both25, 50, and 100 for Viagra;
20, 40, 60, 80, and 100 for sildenafil
yes; free
RomanViagra and other ED treatments$2 per dose of generic;
$70 per dose of Viagra
both25, 50, and 100 for Viagra;
20, 40, 60, 80, and 100 for sildenafil
yes; $15
Lemonaidgeneric brand$2 per 20-mg pillgeneric only20yes
Eddie by Giddyalternative to Viagra$188 for one; $376 for two-pack every 4 months
Maintain Constriction Loopalternative to Viagra$27.49

A 2017 study suggests Viagra is one of the most counterfeited pills in the market. In light of this danger, it’s important to be careful and vigilant about purchasing ED pills, especially online. Here are some steps you can take to make sure you’re buying from a trusted source:

  • Try and get a prescription through your doctor if you can, and obtain the pill through a trusted pharmacy. This is one of the easiest ways to make sure your ED pill is from a true source.
  • Remember that you need a prescription to buy Viagra, even if it’s a generic brand. If a website does not require a consultation from a licensed professional or prescription, chances are it’s a scam.
  • Look for multiple ways to contact customer services on the website. A good website, especially for drugs, has various methods of contact, like email, phone, chat, or a contact form. The website should also have a legitimate U.S. postal address and phone number.
  • Look through the website for a list of licensed professionals that work with or consult with the brand.
  • Make sure the pill or brand is FDA approved, and that the generic brand is labeled “sildenafil,” as there is no other brand name for this drug, aside from Viagra and Revatio.

How long does it take for Viagra to start working?

It depends on the person, but it usually takes around 30 minutes.

How long do the effects of Viagra last?

This depends on the dose. Most of the time, the effects should last around 4 to 5 hours. This doesn’t mean you should have an erection for the entire time. An erection that lasts longer than 3 to 4 hours requires an emergency room visit.

What’s the difference between Viagra and sildenafil?

There’s no difference except the fancy branding. They’re chemically identical.

Does Viagra expire?

Yes. The average shelf life of medication is about 2 years. To keep Viagra and other medications as long as possible, try these tips:

  • Store your medications between 68 and 86°F.
  • Don’t freeze or heat up medications.
  • Make sure the lids on your medications are closed tightly.
  • Keep bottles away from sunlight.

Can I buy Viagra over the counter in the USA?

Viagra and sildenafil are both prescription medications, meaning they are not available for over-the-counter purchase at your local pharmacy.

With telemedicine, however, it’s easier to get a prescription for these pills without visiting your doctor in person. Some of our recommendations above also offer delivery of these products straight to you so you don’t have to worry about picking up your prescription.

What are some alternatives to Viagra?

Other ED medications include:

According to the NIDDK, nonprescription alternatives to Viagra include lifestyle measures, like:

Viagra might be able to improve your ED. If you’re interested in trying Viagra for your ED symptoms, talk with a healthcare professional first. You’ll need a prescription to get started.

Thanks to emerging telehealth services, it’s now possible to get a Viagra prescription without stepping inside a doctor’s office. Be sure to provide online health professionals with your complete medical history so they know what treatment would align best with your needs.

If you’re experiencing other symptoms in addition to ED, you’re probably better off talking with your doctor or a specialist, like a urologist, in person. They can assess your symptoms and determine whether an underlying condition is causing ED, and they’ll be better at offering solutions and next steps.


Steph Coelho is a freelance writer with chronic migraine who has a particular interest in health and wellness. When she’s not click-clacking away on her keyboard, she’s probably nose-deep in a good book.