Why Does Viagra Cause Headaches? Detailed Explanation

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (1 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)
Loading...
viagra headaches

Viagra is a bestseller drug, which helps millions of ED sufferers to felicitously fight erectile dysfunction (ED). However, (sometimes sadly enough), it is not side-effect free. One of the most annoying adverse event that might be caused by this pharmaceutical is headache. Why does Viagra cause headaches? is it possible to prevent that?

Viagra Background

viagra headache

Viagra belongs to the type of drugs called phosphodiesterase-5 inhibitors (PDE-5 inhibitors for shortness sake). This medication is also the first representative of this drugs family on the pharmaceutical market. The original aim of Viagra (generic name – sildenafil), which dates back to 1989, was to treat increased blood pressure. That time, it was developed under code name compound UK-92,480. The substance accidentally showed the ability to be effectual PDE-5 inhibitor allowing male individuals to get strong erection. Among other medicines of this group there are Levitra (vardenafil), Stendra (avanafil) and Cialis (tadalafil).

How Does Viagra Work?

Phosphodiesterase-5 is found in many tissues, especially in the retina and the corpus cavernosum of the penis. Recent research has proven that it plays crucial role in regulating the functioning of cardiovascular system. After attaching cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cGMP) it breaks it down.

Such physiological process as erection occurs due to the nitric oxide which releases in the corpus cavernosum’s vasculature under the effect of sexual stimulation. Nitric oxide (NO) provides guanylate cyclase, which causes cGMP (serves as a messenger) level increased. This messenger binds to cell membranes and activates protein kinases which are involved in regulating glycogenosis as well as conductance of ion channel.

Affected by this process smooth muscle tissues of penis get relaxed, which leads to elevated blood flow and vasodilation. Relaxation of smooth muscle and high flow of the blood, which takes place in the corpus cavernosum are the key factors in attaining erection.

As PDE5 enzyme degrades cGMP, inhibiting of this enzyme causes better activity of cGMP, which, consequently leads to vessel tissue relaxation and enhancement of erection (under the condition that a man wanna have sex).

Causes of Headache

Before getting deeper into mechanisms of inducement of headache by Viagra, let’s explore general causes of headaches. Their understanding will allow you to grasp the information provided below.

Well, headaches may be caused by alcohol consumption, eating nitrate-containing food, deficit of sleep, poor posture, psychoemotional stress, skipped meals, sinusitis, ear infections, hangovers, panic attacks, dehydration, and many other factors most of which may be somehow connected with Viagra-associated headache.

Headache should not be confused with migraine. This is a head or face pain. Migraine is a very severe headache, which causes extreme pain and is much more debilitating. Viagra doesn’t cause migraine by itself, however, it can provoke migraine attack. According to the study by Christina Kruuse, Lars Lykke Thomsen et al. (2003), migraine attack was induced by Viagra in 10 of 12 patients suffering from this condition and by placebo pill in 2 of 12 patients.

How Does Viagra Cause Headaches?

why does viagra cause headaches

Unfortunately, PDE-5 inhibitors are characterized by some adverse events, which are especially visible after over dosage. Over 10% of patients experience headache, since Viagra isn’t completely selective. Despite the fact that the medicament has a high selectivity and acts primarily in the corpora cavernosa, in may suppress PDE5 in other body areas, for instance, in the brain. High concentration of PDE-5A1 and PDE-5A2 exists in the brain vasculature. The inhibition of these enzymes similar to the inhibition of the penis’s PDE-5 enzyme can occur. It causes elevated blood flow to the area of brain, resulting in headache.

How to Prevent/Reduce These Headaches?

If you’re using the medication for the first time or have experienced Viagra-induced headaches earlier, try to administer the minimum dosage (25mg). There is a probability that it will work good for you, without any side effects.

Avoid alcoholic drinks, as the combination of the “blue diamond” and spirits may lead to severe hangover effect. Eating properly may prevent hunger headaches, drinking plenty of water will help avoid dehydration (a potential headache inducer).

viagra pain reliever

If you’ve encountered this unwanted effect, use OTC pain relievers, approximately at the same time when you administer the ED medicine.

Other Side Effects of the “Blue Pill”

There are other typical adverse events, in particular, nasal congestion, feeling of being lightheaded, dyspepsia (upset stomach), flushing. In 2007 there was a warning issued by the American Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that the PDE5 inhibitors could lead to the deterioration of hearing. Such severe adverse event as impairment and even loss of vision can also occur. However, it should be noted that such severe undesirable effects are the exception, not the rule.

Updated: June 12, 2019 by: Vincent