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Erectile Dysfunction (ED)

How Long Does Sildenafil Last? When You Should Take It, and When It Should Subside

by Scott McDougall (MPharm)

Scott is one of the two founders of The Independent Pharmacy. He is a registered pharmacist and the registered manager of our service with the CQC.

Timing is extremely important when you’re taking treatment for erectile dysfunction because you probably have a specific time in mind. Maybe you’re planning a special occasion, or your schedule is limited — regardless, in ideal circumstances, it will be effective when you need it and gone when you don’t.

Because Sildenafil is a great one-off treatment (you don’t need it to build up in your system — just one tablet is enough), you need to know when you should take it to get the best results, and how you can expect it to affect you. Let’s go through the basics:


How long Sildenafil typically lasts

Most sellers cite 4-6 hours as the magic window for the average 50mg dose of Sildenafil. Once it kicks in, you’ll have something around that amount of time at full potency. That doesn’t mean it vanishes entirely at that point, however — the Sildenafil in your system will steadily decrease over time, and 3-5 hours is how long it takes the amount in your system to halve.

Because of this, you might still get decent results after 8 hours, or even 10. It will heavily depend on how much you took, how quickly it was absorbed, and how much sexual activity you engaged in during that time (someone who’s been busy for hours would probably struggle to perform even if they still had a full dose of Sildenafil in their bloodstream).

It's important to note that Sildenafil (and other ED treatments) will not give you an erection for the entire period that they are in your system. They simply allow you to achieve a satisfactory erection when you are sexually stimulated. Your erection will still go down as normal after ejaculation.

To learn more about how Sildenafil works, exactly, stop by our main guide to Sildenafil. It details what it does, how it helps to treat ED and various other things you should know.


How quickly it becomes effective

The speed at which Sildenafil starts working its magic depends on your digestive system. How rapidly does it usually work? How much have you eaten recently? How much do you weigh? (The larger your body, the more blood you have, and the longer it takes to spread around).

If your system absorbs it extremely quickly, you might feel it kick in within 20 minutes, but 30 minutes is more realistic. Consumed on an empty stomach, it should hit maximum potency after an hour — if you have recently eaten, it may need a further hour or so. As noted, this maximum level will fall by 50% every 3-5 hours and be almost entirely gone within a day.

Note that any side effects that can occasionally result from Sildenafil use will typically go away as the level in your system goes down (review the Sildenafil side effects page for more information).


How different dosages compare

Because the efficacy of Sildenafil depends on how much you have in your system, starting with a large dose will make it last longer — but not too much longer. The maximum dosage prescribed is 100mg, because dosages above can cause heart problems and produce side effects much more consistently.

If you take a 25mg dose, then depending on your weight and the degree of your erectile dysfunction, you might only find it effective for 2-3 hours. When you pursue a prescription, the doctor or pharmacist will be able to tell you roughly what level of dosage you should start with, although 50mg is the normal starting dose for most men.


Sildenafil versus other erectile dysfunction treatments

As far as duration is concerned, there are two main types of drug in the category of oral treatments for erectile dysfunction:

  • Those that last for 4-6 hours. Sildenafil is one of these, as noted, but there’s also Vardenafil (also sold as Levitra) and Avanafil (also sold as Spedra).
  • Those that last between 1 and 2 days. Tadalafil (also sold as Cialis) is the sole popular option in this category. Tadalafil can increase your ability to achieve an erection for up to 36 hours. You can read our Tadalafil reviews page to find out what real customers think.

If you’re looking for a treatment that can provide consistent performance support for an extended time (throughout a weekend away, for instance), then Tadalafil may well be the best option for you. For one-time potency, though, Sildenafil remains among the best. Before you make a decision, read up on what Sildenafil users have to say on our page dedicated to Sildenafil reviews.



Wrapping up, let’s revisit the main points we’ve covered:

  • Sildenafil should reach maximum effect within an hour.
  • It kicks in faster when taken on an empty stomach.
  • Once it’s working, you may have 2-6 hours of full effect (depending on dosage).
  • Sildenafil makes it easier to get an erection, your erection will still go down after sex.
  • The effects will lessen over time, and be gone within a day.
  • Taking more than the recommended maximum dosage won’t help.
  • Sildenafil is ideal if you need intermittent support.

To complete an online consultation and pursue a prescription for Sildenafil, head to our main Sildenafil treatment page and click the “START CONSULTATION” button.



Authored By:

A photo of  Scott McDougall

Scott McDougall


Published on: 05-04-2019

Last modified on: 05-04-2019

Scott is one of the two founders of The Independent Pharmacy. He is a registered pharmacist and the registered manager of our service with the CQC.

Reviewed By:

A photo of Dr Donald Grant

Dr Donald Grant

MB ChB DRCOG MRCGP Dip.orth.med

Reviewed on: 05-04-2019

Next review date: 05-04-2021

Dr Don Grant is a GP with over 30 years experience and is the Clinical Advisor at The Independent Pharmacy

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