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Does Viagra (Sildenafil) Expire?

Kelly Brown MD, MBA

Reviewed by Kelly Brown MD, MBA

Written by Geoffrey C. Whittaker

Published 07/09/2019

Updated 04/15/2024

To the frustration of many occasional users, sildenafil citrate (more commonly known as the brand name Viagra® or its nickname, the “little blue pill”) does expire. 

And like most expired medications, expired sildenafil can be less effective. It can also cause different side effects than the ones your healthcare provider already walked you through

So while questions like “Will my 3-year-old Viagra work?” and “Will my 5-year-old Viagra work?” make sense when you’ve paid for a product and haven’t gotten to use it yet, consider that the chemicals inside sildenafil citrate start to break down over time.

Below, we dive into the standard Viagra shelf life, what happens if you take expired sildenafil, and a few other things to know about this common erectile dysfunction (ED) treatment.

 Get reading. Time is of the essence.

Does Viagra expire? Yes, and so does the generic version, sildenafil

A Viagra tablet or pill may continue to provide erectile benefits after its expiration date, but because the active ingredient and other chemicals in expired medications see reduced activity, they may not work as well. Worse, expired meds can grow pathogens like bacteria and mold that can cause additional adverse effects.

If your Viagra has expired, do not use it. The FDA requires an expiration date for all prescription and over-the-counter medications for a reason. Take it from us: Follow them. 

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Sildenafil shelf life may range slightly from one producer to the next, but generally speaking, Viagra expires about two years after it’s manufactured.

That’s comparable to other ED medications, like Cialis® (brand-name tadalafil), Stendra® (active ingredient avanafil), and Levitra® (active ingredient vardenafil). 

When you need precise answers, check your medication’s packaging.

Note the expiration date, and aim to use the medication as prescribed before it expires. If the expiration date has already passed, it’s time for a new pack.

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Because its ingredients only stay chemically potent for a certain amount of time , Viagra can become less effective over time.

Viagra — like most other erectile dysfunction treatments — works by increasing blood flow into the soft tissue of your penis. It’s very effective at this, making it a great treatment option if you have erectile dysfunction caused by a health issue that affects blood flow throughout your body. You can read the details in our guide to how Viagra works

That being said, not everyone who uses Viagra experiences improvements in erectile function. 

In clinical trials, the success rate of Viagra (percentage of men who reported improved erections) ranged from 66 to more than 80 percent.

Some medical conditions, such as diabetes, may reduce the effectiveness of Viagra and other ED medications.

Viagra might also be less effective if you’ve undergone a surgical procedure that affects your sexual function, like a radical prostatectomy.

Also, Viagra doesn’t directly affect the psychological side of sexual performance, such as your interest in sex, arousal level or sexual confidence. If your ED is caused by a psychological issue, Viagra or other ED medications may not relieve your symptoms. 

We broke down what you can do if Viagra doesn’t work, including how you can overcome common causes of ED, in case you need to know more.

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For informational purposes, here’s what’ll start to happen to Viagra once it expires (which isn’t all that different from any other expired medication):

  • The active ingredient becomes less active, increasing the medication’s onset of action — meaning, the time it takes to start working, and decreasing the potency - meaning the overall effectiveness   

  • The risk of growing mold and bacteria increases, increasing your risk of getting sick. 

As the medication’s ingredients continue breaking down, the common side effects of Viagra can increase in frequency.

Taking expired Viagra can cause:

  • Itchy, pin-and-needle sensations

  • Nausea and stomach pain

  • Indigestion or heartburn

  • Back pain

  • Headaches

  • Dizziness 

  • Vision issues, including sensitivity to light 

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Expired sildenafil isn’t necessarily unsafe the day after its expiration date, but any respectable healthcare professional will advise against taking it.

To be clear: Viagra, sildenafil citrate and other phosphodiesterase type 5 or PDE5 inhibitors are FDA-approved for the treatment of ED. 

They can be a safe, effective erectile dysfunction treatment for men of all ages — especially when compared with supplements and over-the-counter ED treatments that are less rigorously controlled and tested than prescription ED meds.

Still, it’s important to get medical advice before taking any PDE5 inhibitor. Whether you’re taking Cialis (tadalafil), Levitra (vardenafil) or Stendra (avanafil), you can experience similar side effect risks.

While highly uncommon, the serious side effects of Viagra include allergic reactions, priapism (hint: prolonged and/or painful erection), sudden hearing loss and optic nerve damage.

If you’re simultaneously taking alpha-blockers, recreational drugs with nitrites (commonly called “poppers”), nitrates like nitric oxide or other medications for high blood pressure), drug interactions may lower your blood pressure.

As we’ve mentioned, certain side effects can become more frequent and more serious when these ED medications expire.

Choose your chew

Add a boost to your sex life with our new chewable formats

When it comes down to it, our advice is simple: Do not take expired Viagra. If you’ve got some in your medicine cabinet or toiletry bag, dispose of it responsibly.

That’s not quite as simple as tossing it in the trash, but it’s not complicated either. And you’ve got a few options:

  • Take advantage of city, state, or national take-back programs to let individuals throw away or recycle your expired Viagra the right way.

  • Put your expired Viagra tablets in a sealed container like a plastic bag with some dirt, coffee grounds or cat litter before throwing it away. That way, a pet, child or other person is less likely to get into them.

Whatever you do, don’t flush any little blue pills down the toilet. That can be dangerous for the environment.  

Choose your chew

Add a boost to your sex life with our new chewable formats

There’s no magical secret for extending the shelf life of Viagra pills, and while the Food and Drug Administration might remind you to keep your medication out of direct sunlight in normal temperature ranges, doing so won’t postpone Viagra’s expiration date.

However, several different factors can affect how long Viagra remains active in your body, as well as its effectiveness as an ED treatment. We’re talking:

  • Your Viagra dosage. Like other medications, a normal dose of Viagra slowly becomes less effective as it leaves your body. A larger dose may remain active for slightly longer than a smaller dose.

  • Your recent eating habits. Some types of food, particularly fatty food, may slow down your body’s absorption of Viagra. Eating a high-fat meal before using Viagra may affect how long it takes to work and increase the amount of time that Viagra is active.

  • Any other medication you’re taking. Certain antibiotics, antiretrovirals and antifungal medications may increase the effects of Viagra and affect the amount of time required for your body to process the medication.

  • Your psychological well-being. Viagra may be less effective, or last for a shorter period of time, if you have sexual performance anxiety, depression, feelings of guilt about sex or other mental health conditions.

  • Your physical health. Some physical conditions, such as heart disease and diabetes, may reduce the effectiveness of Viagra or cause it to provide relief from ED for a shorter period of time. Procedures that can affect sexual function may have similar impacts. 

  • Your age. In general, older men are more likely to experience increased concentrations of certain medications, as well as a reduced level of effectiveness. This may affect Viagra’s effects or duration of action.

Choose your chew

Add a boost to your sex life with our new chewable formats

For best results, you should take Viagra on a relatively empty stomach around one hour before you expect to have sex. A normal dose of Viagra should remain effective for approximately four hours

Avoid drinking large amounts of alcohol while using Viagra or generic sildenafil. If you use other medications, check with your healthcare provider to make sure they do not interact with Viagra, reduce its effectiveness or have any other safety risks. 

Viagra and generic sildenafil come in several doses, from 25mg to 100mg. You may need to try several different doses of sildenafil before finding one that’s most effective for you.

And in case it isn’t obvious, please follow your healthcare provider’s instructions while using this medication.

Choose your chew

Add a boost to your sex life with our new chewable formats

Sildenafil citrate

Get hard for 95% cheaper than Viagra

If you’re one of the 30 million men affected by erectile dysfunction, ED medications such as Viagra and Cialis can help you to improve your erections and restore your sexual function. It just shouldn’t be expired.

Facts are facts — here’s what you need to know about expired ED meds:

  • A pill that expired yesterday probably won’t cause major damage. It may be less effective, though, and take longer to work.

  • Expired medications can cause unpleasant side effects that get worse the longer the medication’s been expired.

  • If you don’t want to risk nausea, itchy sensations, bacterial infections and the ingestion of mold, responsibly discard your medications once their expiration date passes.

We offer several ED medications, following an online consultation with a licensed provider who will determine if a prescription is appropriate. 

You can also learn more about the causes of ED and the most effective methods of treatment in our full guide to erectile dysfunction

12 Sources

  1. Dhaliwal, A. & Gupta, M. (2021, June 25). PDE5 Inhibitors. StatPearls. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK549843/
  2. Ghofrani, H.A., Osterloh, I.H. & Grimminger, F. (2006). Sildenafil: from angina to erectile dysfunction to pulmonary hypertension and beyond. Nature Reviews Drug Discovery. 5 (8), 689–702. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7097805/
  3. Erection Ejaculation: How It Occurs. (2020, November 27). Retrieved from https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/10036-erection-ejaculation-how-it-occurs
  4. VIAGRA® (sildenafil citrate) tablets, for oral use. (2014, March). Retrieved from https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2014/20895s039s042lbl.pdf
  5. Smith, B.P. & Mary, B. (2021, June 29). Sildenafil. StatPearls. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK558978/
  6. Symptoms & Causes of Erectile Dysfunction. (2017, July). Retrieved from https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/urologic-diseases/erectile-dysfunction/symptoms-causes
  7. Le Couteur, D.G., McLachlan, A.J. & de Cabo, R. (2012, February). ​​Aging, Drugs, and Drug Metabolism. The Journals of Gerontology, Series A 67A, 2, 137-139. Retrieved from https://academic.oup.com/biomedgerontology/article/67A/2/137/554929
  8. Sildenafil. (2018, January 15). Retrieved from https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a699015.html
  9. CIALIS (tadalafil) tablets, for oral use. (2011, October). Retrieved from https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2011/021368s20s21lbl.pdf
  10. Tainted Sexual Enhancement Products. (2021, December 8). Retrieved from https://www.fda.gov/drugs/medication-health-fraud/tainted-sexual-enhancement-products
  11. Lo Monte, G., Graziano, A., Piva, I. & Marci, R. (2014). Women taking the “blue pill” (sildenafil citrate): such a big deal? Drug Design, Development and Therapy. 8, 2251–2254. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4232035/
  12. Definition & Facts for Erectile Dysfunction. (2017, July). Retrieved from https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/urologic-diseases/erectile-dysfunction/definition-facts
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, MBA

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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