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What’s the Difference Between Viagra and Viagra Connect?

Medically approved by
Dr Earim Chaudry
Last updated
19th August 2021

In 30 seconds…

What’s the difference between Viagra and Viagra Connect? Viagra Connect is the Over The Counter (OTC) name for the 50mg dosage of Viagra. This dosage is available over the counter, meaning you don’t need a prescription. Both contain the same active ingredient Sildenafil.

Both Viagra and Viagra Connect are approved, safe and effective treatments for erectile dysfunction. Both are powered by the active ingredient, Sildenafil, which works to improve blood flow to where you need it, boosting your chances of reaching and keeping an erection. You can get Sildenafil in its generic version, too, without the famous brand name.

A similar medicine is Tadalafil, also known as Cialis. This has the same success rate, but it lasts in your system for up to 36 hours, which is why it’s sometimes called the “weekend pill.”

Making Sense of Erectile Dysfunction Medication

Erectile dysfunction (ED), the condition that affects your ability to achieve or maintain an erection long enough for sex, is extremely common. The chances are that most of us will experience it at some point in our lives. Yet, the majority of us won’t seek ED treatment. According to one analysis published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, as few as 25% of those with a diagnosis seek help.

Researchers suggest that poor knowledge of the treatment affects these numbers. And that’s what we’re here to change. Treatment of erectile dysfunction is safe, effective, and simple. Finding support to achieve sexual satisfaction can be as easy as popping a pill.

Here, we’re looking at probably the two most famous ED treatments around — Viagra and Viagra Connect. These two treatments work in the same way. So, what’s the difference between Viagra and Viagra Connect? Let’s take a look.

What is Viagra?

Viagra is probably the best-known treatment for erection problems on the market. Made by the pharmaceutical company Pfizer, it’s commonly referred to as the “little blue pill,” thanks to its familiar shape. Look past the brand name, though, and Viagra is powered by the active ingredient Sildenafil Citrate. It’s this substance that does the hard work (pun intended). 

Sildenafil is what’s known as a PDE5 inhibitor. It provides a solution to erection problems by tackling an enzyme — phosphodiesterase 5 — that’s responsible for smooth muscle contraction in the blood vessels supplying the penis. By inhibiting this enzyme, you boost the flow of blood to where you need it and increase the chance of achieving an erection.

The important thing behind Viagra’s fame is that it really works. Over 80% of men who took the treatment in studies reported an increase in the ability to keep an erection long enough for sex. 

Approved by the UK’s NHS, the European Union, and the US FDA, Viagra has had over 20 years of effective use by millions of men across the world.

Viagra: Different Dosages

When you’re buying Viagra, you need to be aware that it’s available in different strengths — and this is where Viagra Connect comes in. 

Viagra is available in 3 strengths, depending on the amount of Sildenafil contained in each pill:

  • 100mg dose. This is the strongest Viagra dose available. It works in over 80% of men. However, it may increase the chances of side effects.
  • 50mg dose (Viagra Connect). The Viagra 50mg dose is Viagra Connect. It’s effective in three-quarters of men. It’s recommended for use by those who experienced side effects of Viagra with the larger dose.
  • 25mg dose. The smallest available dose of Viagra, it’s recommended for those who have tried larger doses but have experienced adverse effects.

So, What is the Difference Between Viagra and Viagra Connect?

Simply, the difference between Viagra and Viagra Connect is about the strength of the dose. While Viagra is available in 25mg, 50mg, and 100mg doses, Viagra Connect is just the 50mg version. It works in the same way, as it includes the same active ingredient, Sildenafil.

Viagra was once only available in the UK from a doctor. But in 2017, Pfizer introduced an over-the-counter version after the Medicines and Health Regulatory Agency (MHRA) approved the drug for use without a prescription. That over-the-counter version would become Viagra Connect.

These days, you can still get the 50mg Viagra Connect without a prescription. However, you will need to fill out a questionnaire before you can get your Viagra Connect tablets. This is to make sure you don’t have any health problems that might interfere with Sildenafil, such as:

  • High blood pressure
  • Heart disease
  • Lactose intolerance
  • Conditions affecting your penis
  • History of vision loss

You’ll also be asked if you’re on medications such as nitrates or alpha-blockers. These can affect the Sildenafil no matter whether you’re taking Viagra or Viagra Connect. 

Being Serious about Side Effects

We’ve said that the 3 different strengths of Viagra can affect the risk of side effects. So, what are the side effects of Viagra and Viagra Connect? And should you be worried?

All medicines have side effects, and that includes Viagra. The most common side effects are:

  • Flushing and redness
  • Chest pain or angina
  • Indigestion
  • Headache
  • Dizziness, faintness, and fatigue
  • A stuffy nose or congestion

According to clinical trials, about 2.5% of men who use Viagra experience side effects — and for those who do, it’s usually only temporary. Meanwhile, less than 1% of men stopped Viagra treatment altogether because of side effects. And studies have shown that Sildenafil is perfectly safe in men over 70, too.

If you’re worried about the side effects of Viagra, try the smaller dose of Viagra Connect. Most men start with the 50mg dose.

Alternatives to Viagra

Viagra and Viagra Connect are not the only options out there for men seeking treatment for erectile dysfunction. While they’re the best-known, it’s worth noting the alternatives, as they may work better for you.

Generic Sildenafil

Sildenafil is the active ingredient that powers Viagra. However, it’s also available without the famous brand name. This means you can enjoy the same ingredients and effect, without paying for the label.

Generic Sildenafil works in the same way as Viagra — with the same effectiveness and safety profile. It’s also available in 25mg, 50mg, and 100mg doses.

More info: What is the cost of Viagra? 

Tadalafil (Cialis)

Cialis is one of the most popular alternatives to Viagra. Like Sildenafil, the active ingredient in Cialis, known as Tadalafil, is a PDE5 inhibitor. That means it works in the same way, targeting the same enzyme with very similar effects.

The main difference between Tadalafil and Sildenafil, however, is that Tadalafil stays in your system longer. Its effects can be felt up to 36 hours after you take the medicine, compared to 4 hours with Sildenafil. That means you’ll have support for your erections across the whole weekend. (Note: You’ll still need sexual stimulation to experience the effects. Erections don’t happen all by themselves.)

Compared to Sildenafil, studies have suggested that Tadalafil has the same rates of effectiveness — and may have an even lower risk of side effects.

Sildenafil

The generic unbranded form of Viagra

It’s the active ingredient in Viagra and clinically proven to be highly effective by increasing blood flow into the penis.


Best for
One off use
Effective in
8 out of 10 men
Dosage
50 to 100mg

Key Takeaways

What’s the difference between Viagra and Viagra Connect? Powered by Sildenafil, both work in the same way. However, Viagra Connect is available over the counter. That means you don’t need a doctor’s prescription to buy it.

Treating ED doesn’t need to be difficult. You can buy Viagra Connect online from Manual. Or, if you prefer the non-branded alternative, generic Sildenafil, we have that too. It’s just as effective, at a fraction of the price.

References

  1. Luke R.FrederickMD, Omer OnurCakirMD, HansAroraMD, PhD Brian T.HelfandMD, PhD Kevin T.McVaryMD (2014). Undertreatment of Erectile Dysfunction: Claims Analysis of 6.2 Million Patients – https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1743609515305786

  2. medicines.org.uk  – Viagra 25mg, 50mg, 100mg https://www.medicines.org.uk/EMC/medicine/1474/SPC/Viagra+25mg,+50mg,+100mg/#PHARMACODYNAMIC PROPS

  3. Irwin Goldstein, M.D., Tom F. Lue, M.D., Harin Padma-Nathan, M.D., Raymond C. Rosen, Ph.D., William D. Steers, M.D., and Pierre A. Wicker, M.D. (1998). Oral Sildenafil in the Treatment of Erectile Dysfunction – https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJM199805143382001

  4. rxlist.com – VIAGRA – https://www.rxlist.com/viagra-drug.htm#description

  5. James G McMurray, Robert A Feldman, Stephen M Auerbach, Herb DeRiesthal, Neal Wilson (2007). Long-term safety and effectiveness of sildenafil citrate in men with erectile dysfunction – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2387281/

  6. M FujisawaK Sawada (2004). Clinical efficacy and safety of sildenafil in elderly patients with erectile dysfunction  – https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15277003/

  7. reuters.com – Erectile dysfunction drugs vary in effectiveness, side effects – https://www.reuters.com/article/us-ed-drugs-profiles-idUSKBN0MY1TT20150407

While we've ensured that everything you read on the Health Centre is medically reviewed and approved, information presented here is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. It should never be relied upon for specific medical advice. If you have any questions or concerns, please talk to your doctor.

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