The primary indication of sildenafil is treatment of erectile dysfunction (inability to sustain a satisfactory erection to complete intercourse). Its use is now standard treatment for erectile dysfunction in all settings, including diabetes.
People on antidepressants may experience sexual dysfunction, either as a result of their illness or as a result of their treatment. A 2003 study showed that sildenafil improved sexual function in men in this situation. Following up reports from 1999, the same researchers found that sildenafil improved sexual function in female patients on antidepressants as well.
As well as erectile dysfunction, sildenafil citrate is also effective in the rare disease pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH). It relaxes the arterial wall, leading to decreased pulmonary arterial resistance and pressure. This, in turn, reduces the workload of the right ventricle of the heart and improves symptoms of right-sided heart failure. Because PDE5 is primarily distributed within the arterial wall smooth muscle of the lungs and penis, sildenafil acts selectively in both these areas without inducing vasodilation in other areas of the body. Pfizer submitted an additional registration for sildenafil to the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and sildenafil was approved for this indication in June 2005. The preparation is named Revatio, to avoid confusion with Viagra, and the 20 milligram tablets are white and round. Sildenafil joins bosentan and prostacyclin-based therapies for this condition.
Sildenafil has been shown to be useful for the prevention and treatment of high-altitude pulmonary edema associated with altitude sickness such as that suffered by mountain climbers. While this effect has only recently been discovered, sildenafil is already becoming an accepted treatment for this condition, in particular in situations where the standard treatment of rapid descent has been delayed for some reason.