Cialis vs. Levitra vs. Viagra: How Each Stacks Up
Three of a kind?
Cialis, Levitra, and Viagra are oral medications used to treat erectile dysfunction (ED). You may also know them by their generic names, tadalafil (Cialis), vardenafil (Levitra), and sildenafil (Viagra).
About 30 million men occasionally have a problem with getting or keeping an erection, according to the Urology Care Foundation. When ED becomes a problem, many men turn to oral ED medications. These drugs often help. Cialis, Levitra, and Viagra each work in similar ways. But there are also some differences, such as when you take them, how long they work, and what their side effects are.
Cialis. Levitra. and Viagra are all in a class of drugs called PDE-5 inhibitors. These drugs work by blocking an enzyme called phosphodiesterase type 5. They also boost a chemical in your body called nitric oxide. This action encourages the muscles in your penis to relax. Relaxed muscles allow blood to flow freely so that when you’re aroused, you can get an erection. It also helps you maintain the erection long enough to have sex.
Levitra and Viagra stay in your bloodstream for about four to six hours. Cialis remains in your bloodstream for 17 to 18 hours or longer. The length of time a drug stays in your system may be important if you’re taking other medications.
Here are more basics on each of these drugs:
Be sure to take this drug exactly as your doctor tells you to. If you have questions or concerns, talk with your doctor.
Cost, availability, and insurance
Cialis, Levitra, and Viagra are usually stocked at most pharmacies. All three of these drugs cost about the same amount. In general, most health insurance companies won’t cover their costs. But if you have certain medical conditions, your health plan may pay for the drug with prior authorization.
The side effects of these medications are similar. Most men have only mild side effects.
The chart below compares the side effects of these drugs.
Tell your doctor if you have any side effects that linger and don’t go away on their own. If you have an erection that lasts longer than four hours, call your doctor right away.
Each drug comes with the chance of drug interactions. Since PDE-5 inhibitors work on the body in similar ways, Cialis, Levitra, and Viagra come with similar interactions.
If you have an erection that lasts longer than four hours, call your doctor right away.
All three of these drugs interact with nitrates. They also all interact with blood pressure drugs such as alpha-blockers. For Cialis, these also include the drugs bendrofluazine, enalapril. and metoprolol. For Viagra, these also include the blood pressure drug amlodipine .
Viagra also interacts with the drug ritonavir .
Cialis can also interact with alcohol. Drinking alcohol with Cialis can cause low blood pressure when you stand up from a sitting or lying position. This may result in dizziness or a headache. To learn more, read more about the effects of mixing Cialis and alcohol.
Levitra and Viagra do not seem to cause low blood pressure when taken with alcohol. However, alcohol may interfere with your ability to get an erection, even while you’re taking any of these drugs.
If you have ED, talk to your doctor about Cialis, Levitra, and Viagra. Tell your doctor if you take other over-the-counter or prescription drugs or supplements. Be sure to mention all other health conditions you have.
Each of these three popular drugs has been shown to help men with ED when they’re used correctly. All three drugs have good results, but it may take a little time and patience to get it right. If one drug doesn’t work or produces unpleasant side effects, you can try another drug. It may also take some trial and error to find the dosage that works best for you. And if you’re not sure that drug treatment is right for you, you can give these natural treatments for erectile dysfunction a try.
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by Dr. Sharon Orrange
on February 26, 2013 at 1:45 pm
For those of you paying an arm and a leg for your erectile dysfunction (ED) meds, here is a safe and legitimate trick for you. Revatio (sildenafil 20 mg) is the exact same drug as Viagra . just in a different dose. There is now a generic version of that 20 mg tablet of sildenafil (Revatio ).
Sildenafil is effective in roughly 70% – 90% of people with ED, hence its popularity. The sad thing is that while Viagra. Cialis and Levitra have changed lives, they are very expensive.
Sildenafil was originally developed by Pfizer as a medication used in treating ED (Viagra ) but also for treatment of pulmonary arterial hypertension (Revatio ).
Viagra (sildenafil ) is used in 25, 50 or 100 mg tablets for ED. The generic version of Revatio (sildenafil ) is available as a 20 mg tablet. It is so much cheaper per month that even taking 2 – 2 ½ tablets of the generic version (to get 50 mg for ED) you will be saving money. You just need to ask for a prescription of sildenafil 20 mg tablets to start saving money fast.
As you may know, due to a risk of cardiovascular adverse events, sildenafil should not be used in patients taking nitrate therapy. Other than that, carry on.
Viagra 50 mg can cost $250 to $275 for 10 tablets; in contrast, 20 tablets of sildenafil 20 mg should fall in the $30 – $75 range, and 30 tablets would cost about $50 – $100, giving you as much as $200 in savings depending on the pharmacy. Viagra is not covered by many insurance plans, and when it is covered it is likely a Tier 2 or 3 drug, meaning a high copay.
About The GoodRx Medical Team
Dr. Sharon Orrange, MD MPH
Dr. Orrange is a Clinical Associate Professor of Medicine at the University of Southern California, as well as a practicing adult medicine doctor in Los Angeles. She also has a Masters in Public Health from Johns Hopkins University. She does not receive any form of compensation from pharmaceutical manufacturers for the opinions expressed here. Follow her on twitter at @orrangemd.
The GoodRx Pharmacist
Roni Bennett, PharmD CGP BCACP graduated from Duquesne University and is a licensed pharmacist in the states of Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. Her realm of pharmacy experience includes but is not limited to retail, compounding, and specialty pharmacy. Currently she is a mentor for Strong Women Strong Girls, certified thru APhA in Medication Therapy Management and diabetes, and an active member of The Ohio pharmacists association, LGBT, and the Women’s Business Resource Group.
Elizabeth Davis is GoodRx’s medical editor and consumer savings expert. She hand-assembled the GoodRx drug database and has researched virtually every available discount program and savings opportunity.
Disclaimer: The content posted here is for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. GoodRx does not recommend or endorse any specific prescription drug, pharmacy or other information. We urge you to talk to your doctor before starting, changing or terminating any medical treatment.
GoodRx believes that everyone should be able to access and afford the prescription drugs they need to maintain their health.
Viagra, Cialis and Levitra – which is best?
I am often asked which is the best of the three most common erectile dysfunction treatments: Viagra, Levitra or Cialis. There is no simple answer to this question, as some men find one treatment works better for them than the others. However there are some interesting differences…
What is Viagra?
Viagra is the most well-known of the three as it has been around for over 15 years. This means that a lot is known about its effects and side effects. It works within an hour of taking a tablet, and is best taken on an empty stomach. The effects of Viagra will last for four to six hours.
Viagra was developed and originally marketed by the pharmaceutical company Pfizer, and until 2013 Pfizer was the only company allowed to sell it. When Pfizer’s patent on Viagra expired, the market was open for other companies to produce the medicine, albeit under its generic name Sildenafil, rather than the brand name Viagra.
Sildenafil contains exactly the same active ingredient as Viagra (sildenafil citrate), and works in the same way. However, because it is the generic version of the medicine, rather than the brand, Sildenafil is considerably cheaper.
What is Levitra?
Levitra will last for a similar amount of time as Viagra (four to six hours). The main difference to Viagra is that Levitra tends to be less affected by food or alcohol so can be taken with meals. There is also some evidence that Levitra is more effective in diabetics than other erectile dysfunction medicines.
What is Cialis?
The effects of Cialis last much longer than those for Viagra or Levitra (up to 36 hours) so many men prefer it as involves less planning. The downside is that if you do experience side effects these can last for longer too.
Like Levitra, Cialis is not affected much by food, so can be taken after a meal. Alcohol, however, may reduce its effects.
Is Viagra, Cialis or Levitra best for me?
Different erectile dysfunction medicines suit different people, but it is difficult to tell which one will be best for you until you have tried them all.
While a particular erectile dysfunction medicine may not work for you first time round, we recommend taking it at least eight times before giving up and trying another. This is because it can often take this long to determine whether or not a medicine is right for you.
We also often suggest that men initially try all three erectile dysfunction medicines to see which is best for them, and we offer a starter pack of Viagra, Levitra and Cialis for those suitable.
You can Viagra, Cialis and Levitra safely online through LloydsPharmacy’s Online Doctor service. If appropriate, our London based GPs can prescribe you treatment for erectile dysfunction with Same-Day Collection, as well as Next-Day or FREE Standard Delivery. If you’re unsure which ED treatment will be best for you then take our free ED assessment and our doctors will help you decide:
How effective are Viagra, Cialis and Levitra?
Viagra, Cialis and Levitra have all been shown to be effective in 60-70% of men with erectile dysfunction. However, as above, it is possible that one medicine will be more or less effective than the others, and therefore it is best to initially try out all three to see which is best.
What are the side effects of Viagra, Cialis and Levitra?
All three have similar side effects – headaches, stuffy nose, facial flushing, stomach ache or back pain being the most common. Some men who have had bad side effects with, say, Viagra will have fewer with Levitra or Cialis, but similarly some find the prolonged side effects of Cialis troubling.
Viagra, Cialis and Levitra should not be taken by men who take medicines or recreational drugs containing nitrates. Cialis should not be taken by men who are on medicines called alpha blockers which are sometimes used to treat prostate problems or high blood pressure. Men who take alpha blockers can use Viagra or Levitra but must allow at least a six hour gap between taking the alpha blocker and Viagra or Levitra.
How do Viagra, Cialis and Levitra work?
Viagra, Levitra and Cialis all work in a similar way. They all relax the blood vessels which supply blood to the penis, meaning that more blood can get there when aroused. These medicines are not aphrodisiacs, so you will still need to be sexually stimulated in order to get an erection.
Sildenafil and Spedra are two other major erectile dysfunction medicines which work in a similar way to Viagra, Cialis and Levitra. As outlined above, Sildenafil is the generic version of Viagra, and contains the same active ingredient.
Out of the five, Spedra is the newest medicine on the market, and takes the shortest amount of time to work – just 15 minutes in some men.
If your ED has a psychological cause, such as stress, anxiety or depression, counselling can be an effective treatment. This usually takes the form of either couples’ psychosexual counselling, or one-on-one sessions with a psychosexual counsellor. Sometimes even just talking over the issues with a trained professional can help treat the problem.
It can be a while before any effects from counselling are seen, so it is often combined with prescription medicines such as Viagra, Cialis or Levitra which treat ED in the short term.
For more information on these and other treatments for erectile dysfunction, see our medical article Erectile Dysfunction Treatments .
Is it safe to buy Viagra, Cialis and Levitra online?
When buying Viagra, Cialis or Levitra online it’s important to ensure that you are getting them from a trustworthy source like LloydsPharmacy Online Doctor. There are lots of websites offering erectile dysfunction medicines but many supply fake or counterfeit medicines. Apart from the fact that these medicines may not work, there is also the risk of potentially serious adverse effects from taking non-genuine medicines.
LloydsPharmacy Online Doctor only provides medicines that have been licensed by the government’s Medicines & Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), which means that they have passed rigorous testing before being clinically approved for patients.
All our doctors are registered with the General Medical Council, and as a company we are regulated by the Care Quality Commission. To learn more about us, click here .
Aug 18, 2014 Emily Hunt
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