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Can You Get Viagra Over the Counter?

By Irmanie Hemphill, MD, FAAFP bool(true)
Medically reviewed
April 27, 2021

Because Viagra (sildenafil) was the first erectile dysfunction (ED) medication on the market, doctors often suggest it first when treating a patient with ED. Since it’s so commonly prescribed, many want to know if you can get Viagra over the counter (OTC).

In this article, I’ll describe the symptoms and causes of ED, how to get a prescription for Viagra, and whether or not you can get it OTC in the United States. Since ED can be a symptom of a more serious underlying condition, I’ll also explain when it’s important to talk to your doctor to determine the cause of your ED and which treatment options might be right for you. 

What Is Viagra?

Viagra (sildenafil) is a prescription medication used in the treatment of ED. It can be prescribed as an oral tablet, oral liquid, or subcutaneous injection. 

Designed to be taken as needed shortly before sexual activity, Viagra can take 30 minutes to an hour to take effect. It can last in your system for up to 4-5 hours and help you become erect anytime during that window. The most common dose is 50 milligrams (mg), and it should not be taken with food. Instead, Viagra is most effective when taken on an empty stomach.

For most men, Viagra is a safe and effective treatment option for ED. However, it can cause side effects, including dizziness, nausea, rash, pain in the arms or legs, and abnormal vision. 

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Symptoms of Erectile Dysfunction

Erectile dysfunction (ED) is a common medical condition that primarily affects men older than 40. An estimated 30 million men in the US live with ED

Among other symptoms, ED can make it difficult to get and maintain erections during sexual activity. This often places an unwanted burden on intimate relationships and takes a toll on physical and emotional health. The most common symptoms of ED include:

  • Difficulty getting an erection during sexual activity
  • Difficulty keeping an erection during sexual activity
  • Difficulty achieving an orgasm during sexual activity
  • Difficulty ejaculating
  • Reduced interest and sexual desire

Causes of Erectile Dysfunction

There are several potential causes of ED, including underlying health issues such as heart disease or diabetes. The causes of ED are often categorized into two types: organic (physical) and psychogenic (mental). 

Approximately 80% of ED cases are organic, meaning they’re caused by endocrine or non-endocrine factors. Endocrine-related causes are often connected to low testosterone levels, though more research is required to fully understand how the two intersect. Non-endocrine related causes of ED include medical conditions that affect blood supply, blood flow, and nervous system function. 

Studies also suggest that there is often a psychogenic component of ED, even in cases with organic causes. Whether or not psychological conditions contribute to the cause of your ED, the condition can have negative effects on your psychological well-being, including mood, quality of life, and intimate relationships.

If you’re experiencing symptoms of ED, it’s important to talk with your provider to determine the cause and right course of treatment for you.

Treatment for Erectile Dysfunction

There are four FDA-approved medications to treat ED in men: sildenafil (Viagra), tadalafil (Cialis), vardenafil (Levitra), and avanafil (Stendra).

All of these are phosphodiesterase-5 (PDE5) inhibitors. They work by enhancing the effects of nitric oxide to relax the penile muscles, expand blood vessels that go into the penis, and improve penile blood flow. This helps improve the ability to get and maintain erections. 

However, PDE5 inhibitors like Viagra can interfere with certain medications, including alpha blockers and heart medications that contain nitrates. For this reason, not all men are eligible for ED treatment like Viagra.

In addition to PDE5 medications, standard treatment options for ED management include:

  • Penile implants
  • Penis sleeves
  • Vacuum erectile devices (VEDs)
  • ED rings
  • Blood vessel surgery
  • Injectable or suppository drugs
  • Testosterone replacement therapy (TRT)

Finally, some over the counter (OTC) treatments might help mitigate the symptoms of ED. However, the FDA doesn’t regulate these because it considers them supplements. As a result, some OTC ED medications may contain ingredients or produce side effects that are undisclosed or unknown. As with any treatment option, it’s important to speak with your healthcare provider before trying one of these OTC supplements to ensure the treatment is effective and safe.

Can You Purchase Viagra Over the Counter?

Unlike in the United Kingdom, Viagra is not available for sale OTC in the US. It’s currently only available via prescription.

Because of high demand, several illegal websites claim to sell Viagra online, but these sources are unmonitored and often dangerous. In fact, the Pfizer Global Security teams found that about 80% of websites claiming to sell Viagra were marketing a counterfeit product. Some pills even contained additives like blue printer ink, amphetamines, and rat poison.

You can, however, get Viagra or sildenafil using an online telehealth provider like K Health. K Health offers sildenafil prescriptions for as low as $1.80 per dose. Simply chat with a doctor and get the medication shipped discreetly to your door.

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How to Get Prescribed Viagra Over the Counter

In the United States, Viagra and its generic sildenafil are only available by prescription. Talk with your healthcare provider to see if Viagra is right for you, or check out online doctor services that offer ED prescriptions.

When to See a Doctor

If you’re experiencing symptoms of ED, it’s important to talk to a medical professional to help identify the cause and determine which treatment option is right for you. If you’re curious about trying an OTC treatment in conjunction with Viagra or as a standalone treatment, speaking with your doctor can help determine which OTC option, if any, is right for you.

Frequently Asked Questions

Where can I buy Viagra over the counter in the USA?
Viagra is only available by prescription in the US. If you’re experiencing symptoms of erectile dysfunction (ED), talk with a medical professional to see if Viagra or another prescription medication is right for you.
Who sells Viagra over the counter?
Viagra is available over the counter in the United Kingdom (UK) as Viagra Connect. However, even in the UK, men aren’t able to simply pick up the medication from the shelf and buy it. Pharmacists are required to consult with candidates to determine if the drug is right for them, since certain medications can interact negatively with the drug.
How to get Viagra over the counter?
Viagra is only available by prescription in the US. Some illegal websites claim to sell Viagra, but these sites are not monitored and the products they sell have been found to contain additives such as blue printer ink, amphetamines, and rat poison. If you’re experiencing symptoms of erectile dysfunction (ED), talk with a medical professional to see if Viagra or another prescription medication is right for you.
When will Viagra be over the counter?
It’s unclear whether or not the US will offer Viagra over the counter. Though it could help increase accessibility to the drug, ED can sometimes be a symptom of a more serious underlying medical condition. Bypassing consulting with a doctor could make getting treatment for these medical conditions more difficult. In the US, Viagra is currently only available by prescription.
K Health articles are all written and reviewed by MDs, PhDs, NPs, or PharmDs and are for informational purposes only. This information does not constitute and should not be relied on for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.

Irmanie Hemphill, MD, FAAFP

Dr. Hemphill is an award winning primary care physician with an MD from Florida State University College of Medicine. She completed her residency at Halifax Medical Center.