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Erectile dysfunction (ED) affects around 33 percent of men by age 40, and 70 percent of men by age 70.

ED is defined as the inability to develop and maintain an erection firm enough for sexual activity or penetrative sex.

Although this can be an upsetting diagnosis for some, many people find that their condition is treatable with Viagra, also sometimes called the “little blue pill.”

Keep reading to learn more about how Viagra works, the alternatives, and how Viagra compares to other ED medications.

Viagra is a brand-name prescription drug approved to treat ED. Viagra contains sildenafil, which belongs to a class of phosphodiesterase type 5 (PDE5) inhibitors.

Viagra is the well-known brand-name version of this medication. It works by increasing blood flow to your penis, which helps you have and keep an erection. However, it only works if you’re sexually aroused.

Viagra is approved for use in those who are 18 years and older.

Though Viagra is manufactured by Pfizer, plenty of other companies also make and sell less expensive versions of generic sildenafil pills.

ED medications are PDE5 inhibitors that relax smooth muscle tissue and increase blood flow. There are four main types of prescription ED treatment medications:

  • Stendra (avanafil)
  • Levitra (vardenafil)
  • Cialis (tadalafil)
  • Viagra (sildenafil)

If you’re interested in buying Viagra online, read on to learn more about the considerations you should make.

Viagra and generic sildenafil are prescription drugs, so you’ll need to consult a doctor before purchasing. Some companies have healthcare professionals on their team who can assess you prior to your purchase and make an accurate ED diagnosis.

Oral medications for ED are among the most counterfeited medications in the world. Online pharmacies can sell counterfeit medications, so it’s important to do your research before you buy from any retailer.

The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy found that 97 percent of the internet pharmacies it examined were not compliant with federal laws, state laws, or industry standards.

Counterfeit Viagra is known to contain amphetamines, toxic chemicals, the wrong dose of active ingredients, and even blue printer ink.

It’s a good practice to stay away from international websites, as each country has its own governance when it comes to manufacturing. Stick to reputable sites and pharmacies you can trust.

We chose the following brands based on user ratings, discreetness, and pricing. Hims, Roman, and Lemonaid all report that a doctor or other qualified or licensed medical professional are involved in determining the appropriateness of the prescribed medication.

The companies listed here, except for BlueChew and Eddie by Giddy, have a Better Business Bureau (BBB) accreditation and rating of A or above.

BlueChew is not accredited by the BBB, but we didn’t find any FDA warning letters or class action lawsuits. Similarly, we didn’t find any FDA warning letters involving Giddy.

None of the services listed here are covered by insurance.

Best overall

Hims

Hims is a telehealth company that provides both prescription and over-the-counter generic and brand name medications. The brand focuses mainly on five FDA-approved medications, including Viagra.

The first step is a consultation with an online qualified medical professional who will make a diagnosis and prescribe the best ED treatment for you. They’ll also answer any questions you have, and may be contacted in the future to make treatment adjustments.

If you’re prescribed Viagra, you can purchase it in 25-mg, 50-mg, or 100-mg doses. Hims recommends taking Viagra anywhere from 30 minutes to 4 hours prior to sexual activity. You can purchase a one-time order or sign up for a subscription plan that sends you a monthly supply of the pills in discreet packaging.

Price: Subscriptions start at around $20 per month. Medication costs for subscribers include Viagra (five 50-mg pills for $425 each month).

Best for variety

Roman

Roman is a healthcare technology company that sells FDA-approved men’s health products.

The first step is to schedule a $15 consultation with one of their licensed healthcare professionals to assess your symptoms and come up with a treatment plan. If you’re not a fit for their products or telemedicine, Roman will refund you your money.

Not all of Roman’s ED products require a prescription. However, you need one for Viagra. Roman sells both generic sildenafil and brand-name Viagra, and they’re available in 25-mg, 50-mg, and 100-mg oral tablets.

After you place your order, Roman will ship your items for free in discreet packaging, They can also send your order to your local pharmacy for an added fee. If you want to make changes to your order, Roman offers free unlimited follow-ups with their healthcare professionals.

Price: Monthly subscriptions generally start around $31 per month for 12 20-mg pills. You can alter how often and how many pills you want. Branded Viagra costs $70, whereas generic sildenafil costs $34.

Best budget option

Lemonaid

Lemonaid is a telehealth medicine service that connects people with healthcare professionals. It offers highly competitive mail-order pharmacy pricing.

After you select the condition you want to be treated for, Lemonaid asks you to complete an online assessment.

If you’re a candidate after the medical review, you pay a $25 flat fee for a consultation with a licensed medical professional. Lemonaid offers a range of ED pills, including 20-mg sildenafil pills.

Lemonaid will then prescribe you treatment for your ED, and send your prescription to their mail-order pharmacy.

Price: Generic sildenafil costs $2 per pill with Lemonaid’s mail-order pharmacy. They offer free delivery on all orders.

Best for fast results

Bluechew

Bluechew is a monthly subscription service that provides sildenafil or tadalafil chewable tablets for ED.

These tablets are cheaper and easier to consume. Plus, each tablet comes in its own pouch, making it easy to carry around with you. Chewing supposedly accelerates the effect, so the tablets kick in after 20 to 30 minutes, which may be faster than traditional pills.

However, a 2017 study showed that the oral sildenafil citrate tablet and the chewable sildenafil citrate take the same amount of time to start working and are equally effective.

Price: The cheapest plans are $20 for six 30-mg chewable tablets of sildenafil or four 6-mg tablets of tadalafil. The most expensive plans are $120 for either 34 45-mg sildenafil tablets or 28 9-mg tadalafil tablets.

Best alternative device

Eddie by Giddy

Eddie by Giddy is an alternative to Viagra for anyone looking to avoid pills.

Eddie is an FDA-registered, Class 2 wearable ED device that keeps blood flowing in your penis, allowing you to maintain an erection, without constricting your urethra or arteries.

It comes in four different sizes, and each package comes in a discrete box. Eddie’s design is meant to fit the penis comfortably and constricts only where it’s needed, thanks to the adjustable tension bands.

Giddy offers free shipping, free resizing, and a money-back guarantee if your ED symptoms don’t improve within 30 days. No negative side effects have been reported yet.

That being said, it’s important to make sure to talk with your doctor before using this product.

Price: For $188 you get the device, six tension bands (three sport, three comfort), and a 30-day training program to help you treat your ED.

Can I buy Viagra over the counter?

Viagra (sildenafil) is a prescription medication, meaning it isn’t available over-the-counter from your local pharmacy.

However, thanks to telemedicine, you don’t need to visit your doctor in person to get a prescription for Viagra or another ED medication.

What are Viagra’s side effects?

According to the NHS, side effects occur in more than 1 in 100 people who take sildenafil. However, pills that contain sildenafil citrate are generally safe to use under a doctor’s supervision.

The side effects most commonly associated with Viagra include:

  • headaches
  • flushing
  • upset stomach
  • abnormal vision
  • runny or stuffy nose
  • muscle and back pain
  • dizziness

Seek immediate medical attention if you experience the following side effects:

  • chest pain
  • shortness of breath
  • vision changes

Keep in mind that this is not a complete list of side effects, and others may occur. Speak with your doctor for medical advice about side effects.

These side effects often go away on their own, but you should talk with a doctor if they don’t go away.

How long does Viagra take to start working? How long does it last?

It really depends based on the person.

Most of the time, Viagra starts to work after 30 minutes. Chewable tablets are purported to work faster than pills, but studies — like the one mentioned above — have found they work the same. Some people note that Viagra works faster when taken on an empty stomach.

The effects of Viagra usually last around 4 to 5 hours and start to wear off after that. If your erection is painful or lasts longer than 4 hours, contact a doctor immediately.

It’s important to talk with your doctor if you regularly experience ED and want to start taking Viagra.

When shopping for Viagra online, look for services that are FDA-approved, look for services that involve a personalized approach with a medical professional, and only purchase medication from reputable retailers.

Iman Balagam is a writer based in Houston, Texas. When she’s not laughing at her own jokes, or buying overpriced chia pudding, she can be found reading fiction novels, catching a spin class, doomscrolling through TikTok, or waiting for her delayed Spirit flight to board.You can see more of her work on her website.