Here’s the short answer: Viagra expires.

As with all medications, the ingredients in Viagra break down over time. This means that the drug’s effects will become much less potent every day after it expires.

Let’s get into how long you can expect Viagra to work, how Viagra compares to other common erectile dysfunction (ED) medications, and how to toss out your Viagra properly.

Like all other medications, Viagra is made of ingredients that only stay chemically potent for a certain amount of time. This includes sildenafil citrate, its active ingredient.

Viagra pills may still work for years after they’re first made. But the reduction in chemical activity means that it won’t work as well. Expired medications can also grow infectious mold or bacteria.

As a rule of thumb, Viagra and other medications have a shelf life of about 2 years. Viagra’s expiration date is comparable to other common ED medications, including:

About expiration dates

Expiration dates on medication depend on how you store it. Here are some basic storage instructions:

  • Store your bottles between 68°F and 86°F.
  • Keep the bottle’s lid closed tight when you’re not getting a pill out.
  • Keep bottles away from direct sunlight.
  • Keep bottles in a locked or inaccessible storage area.
  • Don’t freeze or heat up medications.
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You may not notice as effective of a response when you take Viagra after its expiration date because the chemicals have broken down.

Chemicals that have broken down can interact with your bodily tissues and functions in unexpected ways, potentially causing:

  • vision problems
  • feeling itchy
  • feeling pins and needles throughout your body
  • aches or pains in muscles, especially the back
  • nausea
  • stomach pain
  • diarrhea
  • seizures
  • heart attacks

If you’ve taken an expired Viagra and noticed any of these side effects, stop using it immediately. Any unused, expired Viagra should be properly disposed of.

Here are the safest and most environmentally friendly ways to dispose of your expired Viagra:

  • Read the disposal instructions. Most medication labels list the recommended methods for disposal listed. Follow those instructions carefully.
  • See if your city or state has a local drug take-back program. These programs usually require you to submit a form. The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) conducts National Prescription Drug Take-Back Days during which you can take your unused or expired Viagra to approved locations to be safely thrown away or recycled by professionals.
  • Throw expired Viagra in the trash in a sealed container mixed with dirt or cat litter. Don’t just throw Viagra away by itself — children, pets, or others in your household can get to these easily if they’re not contained.
  • DO NOT flush expired Viagra down the toilet. Viagra is not on the FDA’s official flush list and can be dangerous for the environment.

Thankfully, there are some alternative and natural treatments for ED if you find yourself with expired Viagra. There are also some lifestyle changes you can make that you can try while you wait for a new prescription of Viagra.

Try the following remedies if you’re waiting for a prescription to be filled, or if you feel you need additional support for any ED symptoms:

  • L-arginine. This is an amino acid that may help with blood flow to the penis that can cause ED symptoms. Don’t take it at the same time as Viagra, as it can cause side effects like nausea and diarrhea.
  • Red ginseng. This is an herbal supplement that contains ginsenoside, which may help improve ED symptoms. Ginseng can cause side effects like drops in your blood sugar levels, so ask your doctor before trying this supplement.
  • Acupuncture. Some research suggests that acupuncture may help treat ED, but not a lot of research has been done to test its efficacy. Acupuncture may be more successful when done with other home or medical treatments.
  • Reduce or limit alcohol. Alcohol can impede blood flow. This can make it harder for you to get an erection.
  • Reduce or quit smoking. Tobacco and nicotine can also restrict blood flow to the penis and cause ED.
  • Maintain a healthy weight. Obesity has been closely linked to ED. Eat a healthy diet and exercise for at least 30 minutes a day to stay at a healthy weight and limit your risk of ED.
  • Get enough sleep. A good night’s sleep reduces cortisol from stress and other toxins in the blood called reactive oxygen species (ROS), which can damage tissues and affect your normal bodily functions.
  • Exercise regularly. Try exercises that help you increase your lung capacity and blood oxygen levels, such as cardio and aerobic exercises like running and swimming.
  • Do pelvic floor workouts. Some research suggests that pelvic floor exercises should be a first-line approach in treating ED.

Avoid online or over-the-counter alternatives

Do not try to purchase ED medications from any website or pharmacy without a prescription from your doctor. Your doctor will perform a physical examination to make sure it’s safe for you to take Viagra before writing a prescription.

Some Viagra or Viagra alternatives sold over the counter may contain unlisted ingredients or different amounts of Viagra’s active ingredients. These versions may not work properly or cause dangerous side effects, such as seizures or heart attacks.

Expired Viagra can cause unwanted side effects, and may not work the way it’s supposed to. Dispose of expired Viagra immediately and talk to your doctor about refilling your prescription if you’re still experiencing symptoms of ED.

You may also want to try some home treatments or alternative remedies for ED if you find that Viagra doesn’t work before its expiration date has passed. Do not buy Viagra on the internet or over the counter without a prescription.