What’s the Buzz

The Bee Healthy Blog

The Dangers of Mixing Sildenafil with Alcohol

A cartoon image of Sildenafil With Alcohol

Sildenafil citrate (brand name: Viagra) is used to treat erectile dysfunction, a health condition that leads to difficulty getting and maintaining an erection. Mixing Viagra with alcohol is probably okay if you’re generally healthy otherwise, granted that it’s only one or two drinks. However, unknown to a lot of people, many factors can intensify the side effects of both alcohol and Viagra; for example, other medications and supplements that you’re currently taking, age, and other health problems are some of the contributing factors. So even though it is common to have a drink to feel relaxed before sex, it is best to consult your healthcare provider to avoid undesirable or even harmful adverse effects. Please keep reading to learn more about the potential dangers of mixing alcohol and Viagra.

How does Viagra treat erectile dysfunction?

Viagra (sildenafil citrate), commonly called the “little blue pill,” belongs to a group of prescription drugs called phosphodiesterase-5 (PDE5) inhibitors. These drugs are also used to treat a condition called pulmonary arterial hypertension. 

Viagra is a popular ED medication; being classified as a PDE5 inhibitor, Viagra works to treat erectile dysfunction by blocking the PDE5 enzyme. The PDE5 enzyme causes a reduction of cGMP (cyclic guanosine monophosphate), a key body chemical that promotes blood vessel dilation. By inhibiting the PDE5 enzyme from working, Viagra increases the blood flow to the penis, which helps achieve an erection with sexual arousal.

Viagra doses are 25 to 100 mg per day. Viagra and its generic sildenafil are available as oral tablets of 25 mg, 50 mg, and 100 mg. Viagra should be taken an hour before sexual activity. Viagra works within an hour of taking the medication, and its effect lasts about 4 hours but can last up to 12 hours. Keep in mind that Viagra is an effective medication for erection problems, but its effectiveness relies on sexual arousal. 

How much alcohol can you drink with sildenafil?

Before we delve into the risks of combining alcohol and Viagra, let’s take a quick look at what it means to misuse alcohol or abuse alcohol and how much alcohol is safe to drink with sildenafil.

Remember, excessive alcohol consumption can lead to alcohol abuse and alcohol addiction, which are associated with a range of immediate health risks and long-term complications. If you think you may have alcohol dependence, you should talk to your primary care provider for both non-drug approaches such as therapy and counseling, along with different medications to help with alcohol use disorder.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). For women, it is recommended to have 1 drink or less per day. For men, 2 drinks or less per day is the recommended limit. One drink is defined as 355 mL or 12 ounces of beer (5% alcohol by volume), 148 mL or 5 ounces of white or red wine (12% alcohol by volume), or 44 mL or 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits (40% alcohol by volume).

As mentioned, it is not uncommon for people to drink alcohol to try to get relaxed, as being stress-free and relaxed is supposed to help with sexual performance. However, alcohol is a central nervous system (CNS) depressant. Just as other CNS depressants like anxiety medicines and sleeping pills, alcohol slows down the brain activity. Dampening CNS activity can lead to erection problems and negatively affect your sexual health since the central nervous system is essential in sending signals to achieve an erection during sexual activity. Therefore, excessive alcohol consumption will probably cause erection problems and reduced sexual desire. Especially if you already have erectile dysfunction, alcohol consumption will make it more challenging for Viagra to work properly. 

What happens when you mix sildenafil with alcohol?

Studies have shown that alcohol increases the risk of side effects leading to undesirable adverse events. Men with an alcohol intake of more than 15 alcoholic drinks per week are at an increased risk of Viagra side effects such as headache, facial flushing, extreme dizziness, low blood pressure, and chest pain.

Additionally, alcohol affects testosterone production and nerve sensitivity and can independently cause problems with erections. Sexual dysfunction, including low sexual desire, premature ejaculation, and erectile dysfunction, are common in men who have alcohol dependence. Drinking alcohol can make erectile problems worse and counteract the effects of sildenafil (Viagra).

What else to avoid while using Viagra (sildenafil)?

Experts in sexual medicine advise you to avoid mixing grapefruit juice with Viagra. Grapefruit juice can affect how the liver breaks down sildenafil in the body. If you mix Viagra with grapefruit juice, it could lead to increased levels of the drug in your body, increasing your risk of side effects. It is best to avoid drinking grapefruit juice at the same time or the same day you’re using Viagra. 

It’s also important to give your healthcare provider a complete list of your current medications to prevent dangerous drug interactions. Some examples of medications that can cause an adverse hemodynamic interaction leading to dangerously low pressure are nitrates such as nitroglycerine (used to treat chest pain or angina), alpha-blockers such as doxazosin (used to treat benign enlargement of the prostate gland), or blood pressure medications such as amlodipine, lisinopril, losartan, and diuretics (water pills).

Is drinking alcohol safe if you take sildenafil for erectile dysfunction? 

Moderate drinking is generally safe for most men who take sildenafil (Viagra) for erectile dysfunction if they are otherwise healthy. The CDC defines moderate alcohol consumption for men as one or two drinks per day.  

In other words, you don’t have to completely give up alcohol if you’re taking Viagra. But it’s important to discuss combining Viagra and alcohol with a medical professional because it may not be safe for everyone. It is especially important to get professional medical advice if a person drinks heavily. In this case, mixing alcohol and Viagra could have dangerous consequences.



  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2699643/
  2. https://dailymed.nlm.nih.gov/dailymed/lookup.cfm?setid=a2a9f459-e692-4e85-83b0-a35fbf35e91b#section-7.5
  3. https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a699015.html
  4. https://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/fact-sheets/moderate-drinking.htm
  5. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31444051/
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2917074/
  7. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11823754/