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Snorting Viagra®: Is It Dangerous? Can It Be Deadly?

Kelly Brown MD, MBA

Reviewed by Kelly Brown, MD

Written by Nicholas Gibson

Published 02/21/2023

Updated 03/05/2024

Curious about the dangers of snorting Viagra?® Here’s everything you need to know.

Erectile dysfunction, or ED, is a common issue that can affect men of all ages. When you have ED, you might find it hard to get or maintain an erection firm enough for sex.

If you’re one of the approximately 30 million men in the United States affected by some form of erectile dysfunction, you might have considered using medications such as Viagra to improve your erections and sexual health.

You may have also stumbled onto forum messages or blog posts that recommend snorting ED medications like Viagra to improve their effects.

Viagra comes in tablet form and is intended to be taken orally. Snorting Viagra, meaning taking it nasally (through the nose), isn’t recommended, as it may increase your risk of developing adverse effects or long-term complications. 

Below, we’ll explain what Viagra is, as well as how it and similar prescription medications work to treat erectile dysfunction. 

We’ll also go over why it’s not a good idea to try snorting Viagra and discuss how you can use it and similar ED medications safely.

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Before we get into why snorting Viagra like a recreational drug isn’t a good idea, let’s quickly cover the basics of what Viagra is and how it works as a treatment for erectile dysfunction.

Viagra is a PDE5 inhibitor medication containing the active ingredient sildenafil. It treats ED by expanding the blood vessels that supply your penis, allowing for greater blood flow to your erectile tissue when you feel aroused.

Erections are all about blood flow. When you experience sexual stimulation, blood flows to the corpora cavernosa — two areas of erectile tissue inside your penis. As blood pressure in your penis increases, it becomes harder and larger, creating an erection.

We’ve talked about this process in more detail in our guide to what erections are and how they work

In addition to Viagra and generic sildenafil, there are several other evidence-based medications available to treat erectile dysfunction. These include tadalafil (the active ingredient in the brand name drug Cialis®), vardenafil (Levitra®) and avanafil (Stendra®).

Like Viagra, snorting Cialis and ingesting any of these medications other than how they’re prescribed isn’t recommended.

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Viagra comes in tablet form and is designed for oral use. It takes about 30 minutes to one hour to start working, meaning you can take it shortly before you have sex to get relief from erectile dysfunction. 

If you’ve ever searched online for tips about how to get the best results from Viagra, you might have seen messages that suggest snorting Viagra for faster results.

Snorting, or intranasal administration, involves taking a medication or illegal drug by snorting it up your nostrils. This method of drug administration is usually associated with illicit drugs, such as cocaine, methamphetamine and heroin. 

The idea behind snorting Viagra is that it may cause the medication to enter your bloodstream faster, allowing you to get and maintain an erection sooner after taking it. 

Contrary to what you might see in a YouTube video, hear from a friend or read on a Facebook group, snorting Viagra is not a good idea. Not only does it not make the medication any more effective, but it can also increase your risk of experiencing side effects.

Snorting Viagra typically involves crushing a tablet into powder form, then inhaling it through one or both nostrils.

Taking Viagra this way can significantly increase your risk of adverse side effects, including issues that affect your nose and upper airways.

For example, snorting drugs is associated with an increased risk of developing irritation in your nostrils and nasal mucosa, nosebleeds, hoarseness and perforation of your nasal septum (the thin wall separating the left and right nasal passages).

Part of the reason for this is that inhaling anything through your nose can cause irritation, especially when the substance inhaled is a dry, coarse powder.

Another reason is that Viagra tablets don’t just contain sildenafil — they also contain an assortment of inactive ingredients, many of which could become stuck inside your nose and contribute to nasal congestion, irritation and tissue damage.

For example, inactive ingredients in Viagra tablets include the following substances:

  • Microcrystalline cellulose

  • Anhydrous dibasic calcium phosphate

  • Croscarmellose sodium

  • Magnesium stearate

  • Hypromellose

  • Titanium dioxide

  • Lactose

  • Triacetin

Each Viagra tablet also contains an FDA-approved color dye called FD&C Blue No. 2 Aluminum Lake. This inactive ingredient is responsible for the distinct blue color and “little blue pill” nickname.

These inactive ingredients aren’t designed to go up your nose. Instead, they’re included in Viagra and generic sildenafil for purposes such as holding the medication together, creating a protective coating, or preventing each tablet from spoiling when stored.

When you snort Viagra, all of these ingredients go up your nostrils, increasing your risk of unwanted and potentially dangerous side effects and other health risks.

In addition to the inactive ingredients in Viagra and generic sildenafil, the active sildenafil found in each tablet also isn’t designed for nasal inhalation. 

If you snort Viagra instead of consuming it orally, you may be more at risk of experiencing side effects from sildenafil, including issues such as headaches, back or muscle pain, flushing, heartburn and changes in your blood pressure levels.

Because of this, we recommend only using Viagra or generic sildenafil as intended: orally, about an hour before you plan to have sex.

Choose your chew

When Viagra is snorted, it’s often taken with other drugs, including stimulants such as cocaine and sexual-enhancement drugs such as nitrate-based “poppers.”

Taking Viagra with other drugs can potentially result in interactions, particularly when it’s snorted instead of ingested orally. Some of these drug interactions may be dangerous.

For example, when Viagra is consumed with nitrates, such as amyl nitrate or butyl nitrate, it can cause a dangerous drop in blood pressure levels. Using Viagra with any of these drugs may cause dizziness, fainting, heart attack or stroke.

Similarly, Viagra and generic sildenafil may cause dangerous interactions when used with illicit stimulants such as cocaine.

If you use Viagra or any other medication for ED, make sure to inform your healthcare provider about any other prescription drugs or substances you currently take or have recently taken, including illicit substances.

Your healthcare provider will talk with you about potential risks and help you to take Viagra or similar ED medications safely.

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Viagra comes in tablet form for a reason — it’s designed to be taken orally. Snorting Viagra not only offers no advantages when it comes to effectiveness, but it may also increase your risk of side effects and long-term complications, such as damage to your nose.

If you’re prescribed Viagra or a similar type of medication to treat erectile dysfunction, use it as directed by your healthcare provider. 

If you think your current dose of Viagra isn’t totally effective, or if you’d like to try a different type of treatment for ED, let your healthcare provider know.

Interested in trying Viagra? We offer brand-name Viagra, generic sildenafil and a range of other ED medications online, following a consultation with a healthcare provider who will determine if a prescription is appropriate for you.

Want to learn more before you get started? Our guide to the most common erectile dysfunction treatments goes into more detail about how Viagra and similar medications work, as well as the key things you should know before using these medications to treat ED.

5 Sources

  1. Definition & Facts for Erectile Dysfunction. (2017, July). Retrieved from https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/urologic-diseases/erectile-dysfunction/definition-facts
  2. Dhaliwal, A. & Gupta, M. (2022, May 20). PDE5 Inhibitors. StatPearls. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK549843/
  3. Panchatsharam, P.K., Durland, J. & Zito, P.M. (2022, May 8). Physiology, Erection. StatPearls. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK513278/
  4. VIAGRA- sildenafil citrate tablet, film coated. (2017, August). Retrieved from https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/spl/data/40578e70-350a-4940-9630-55d90989c146/40578e70-350a-4940-9630-55d90989c146.xml
  5. Pathak LK, Vijayaraghavan V. Hydrocodone snorting leading to hypersensitivity pneumonitis. Proc (Bayl Univ Med Cent). 2016 Jul;29(3):288-9. doi: 10.1080/08998280.2016.11929438. PMID: 27365873; PMCID: PMC4900771. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27365873/
Editorial Standards

Hims & Hers has strict sourcing guidelines to ensure our content is accurate and current. We rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We strive to use primary sources and refrain from using tertiary references. See a mistake? Let us know at [email protected]!

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment. Learn more about our editorial standards here.

Kelly Brown MD, MBA
Kelly Brown, MD

Dr. Kelly Brown is a board certified Urologist and fellowship trained in Andrology. She is an accomplished men’s health expert with a robust background in healthcare innovation, clinical medicine, and academic research. Dr. Brown is a founding member of Posterity Health where she is Medical Director and leads strategy and design of their Digital Health Platform, an innovative education and telehealth model for delivering expert male fertility care.

She completed her undergraduate studies at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (go Heels!) with a Bachelor of Science in Radiologic Science and a Minor in Chemistry. She took a position at University of California Los Angeles as a radiologic technologist in the department of Interventional Cardiology, further solidifying her passion for medicine. She also pursued the unique opportunity to lead departmental design and operational development at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, sparking her passion for the business of healthcare.

Dr. Brown then went on to obtain her doctorate in medicine from the prestigious Northwestern University - Feinberg School of Medicine and Masters in Business Administration from Northwestern University - Kellogg School of Management, with a concentration in Healthcare Management. During her surgical residency in Urology at University of California San Francisco, she utilized her research year to focus on innovations in telemedicine and then served as chief resident with significant contributions to clinical quality improvement. Dr. Brown then completed her Andrology Fellowship at Medical College of Wisconsin, furthering her expertise in male fertility, microsurgery, and sexual function.

Her dedication to caring for patients with compassion, understanding, as well as a unique ability to make guys instantly comfortable discussing anything from sex to sperm makes her a renowned clinician. In addition, her passion for innovation in healthcare combined with her business acumen makes her a formidable leader in the field of men’s health.

Dr. Brown is an avid adventurer; summiting Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania (twice!) and hiking the incredible Torres del Paine Trek in Patagonia, Chile. She deeply appreciates new challenges and diverse cultures on her travels. She lives in Denver with her husband, two children, and beloved Bernese Mountain Dog. You can find Dr. Brown on LinkedIn for more information.

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