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Viagra vs Levitra vs Cialis

25th October 2019

Shopping around for the best ED medication? There are several to choose from. In this article, we'll discuss the advantages and disadvantages of the most popular ED medicine, Viagra, Cialis and Levitra.

How do they work?

All three drugs are in a class called "PDE5 inhibitors". They work by blocking an enzyme called phosphodiesterase type 5, PDE5 for short. They boost a chemical in your body called nitric oxide which encourages muscles in your penis to relax. This allows blood to flow freely to your penis if you are aroused by sexual stimulation. All three drugs help you maintain an erection long enough to have sex.

Following is a table outlining basic features found in each of these ED medications.

Brand Name: Viagra Cialis Levitra
Generic Name: Sildenafil Tadalafil Vardenafil
Form of Medication: Oral Tablet Oral Tablet Oral Tablet
Doses Prescribed: 25mg, 50mg, 100mg 2.5mg, 5mg, 10mg, 20mg 5mg, 10mg, 20mg
Typical Dose: 50mg 10mg (as needed) or 2.5mg (daily) 10mg, 5mg if over 65
When to Take: 30-60 minutes before sex 30 minutes before sex 60 minutes before sex
How long active: 4 hours up to 36 hours 4-5 hours
Cost: Low Medium High

Why would a doctor prescribe one ED medication over another?

There are a number of reasons a doctor may prescribe one of these three vs the others. Things they take into consideration are side effects and how to best work them into your schedule. For instance, if you are not certain when the opportunity for sex will present itself, Cialis may be a better choice than Viagra as it remains active in your system for longer.

The following list contains all the more common (not serious) side effects of all three medications. The list is useful if you are experiencing side effects from one of the medications are interested in others which may not have the same side effects.

Common side effects of ED medications

Following is a table outlining the potential side effects of each medication. Keep in mind that not all men will experience these side effects, and that the chance of experiencing side effects may increase with larger doses.

Side effect Viagra Cialis Levitra
Stuffy or runny nose x x x
Headache x x x
Dizziness x   x
Upset stomach x x x
Nausea x    
Indigestion   x x
Vision changes x    
Rash x    
Flushing x x x
Back pain x x x
Pain in the limbs   x  
Muscle aches x x  

Is your ED medication causing dizziness? Consider taking Cialis, which does not have "dizziness" listed as a potential common side effect. Is Viagra giving you nausea? These are not listed as side-effects of both Cialis and Levitra. Are you concerned with indigestion caused by ED meds? These are listed as side-effects under Cialis and Levitra, but not for Viagra. In this case, Viagra would be the better choice (or perhaps the indigestion is unrelated if you experience it while taking Viagra).

Below is a breakdown of potential side effects and the better alternative for erectile dysfunction medications.

Cialis vs Viagra (side effects)

A doctor may prescribe Cialis for you if Viagra is causing dizziness, nausea, vision changes or rashes, as these are not considered side effects of Cialis. Likewise, if Cialis is causing indigestion or pain in the limbs, a doctor may prescribe Viagra (as these are not considered side effects of Viagra).

Cialis vs Levitra (side effects)

If you are experiencing dizziness on Levitra, a doctor may prescribe Cialis for you. Likewise, if Cialis is causing pain in the limbs or muscle aches, a doctor may prescribe Levitra.

Viagra vs Levitra (side effects and cost)

If you are experiencing nausea, vision changes, rashes or muscle aches on Viagra, a doctor may prescribe Levitra. Likewise, if you are experiencing indigestion on Levitra, a doctor may prescribe Viagra.

You may notice that there are many more side effects associated with Viagra when compared with Levitra. While there are more side effects with Viagra, it is much cheaper to take. Generic Sildenafil (Viagra) costs around 91p per tablet. On the other hand, the best deal on Levitra when buying the largest package of 64 pills is currently £2.58 per tablet. While there are fewer side effects with Levitra, it is generally more expensive.

More serious side effects of ED medications

Following is a table outlining the more serious potential side effects of each medication. Not all men will experience these side effects as they are considered rare. If you experience any of the following, discontinue use immediately and speak with your doctor.

Viagra Cialis Levitra
  • heart attack symptoms--chest pain or pressure, pain spreading to your jaw or shoulder, nausea, sweating
  • vision changes or sudden vision loss
  • erection is painful or lasts longer than 4 hours (prolonged erection can damage the penis)
  • ringing in your ears, or sudden hearing loss
  • irregular heartbeat
  • swelling in your hands, ankles, or feet
  • shortness of breath
  • seizure (convulsions)
  • a light-headed feeling, like you might pass out
  • a light-headed feeling, like you might pass out
  • an erection is painful or lasts longer than 4 hours (prolonged erection can damage the penis)
  • vision changes or sudden vision loss
  • ringing in your ears or sudden hearing loss
  • heart attack symptoms - chest pain or pressure, pain spreading to your jaw or shoulder, nausea, sweating
  • heart attack symptoms - chest pain or pressure, pain spreading to your jaw or shoulder, nausea, sweating
  • vision changes or sudden vision loss
  • erection is painful or lasts longer than 4 hours (prolonged erection can damage the penis)
  • ringing in your ears, or sudden hearing loss
  • irregular heartbeat
  • swelling in your hands, ankles, or feet
  • shortness of breath
  • a light-headed feeling, like you might pass out
  • penis erection that is painful or lasts 4 hours or longer
  • seizure (convulsions)

Summary

In summary, there are potential side effects with all prescription medications. Viagra tends to have slightly more side effects than Cialis, while Levitra has the least amount of side effects. This is reflected in the cost, where Viagra is the cheapest, Cialis is slightly more expensive and Levitra is the most expensive of all 3.

All three medications have a similar effect of causing erections, while there are differences in how long you must wait until they remain effective in your system. Cialis is the winner in that category, as it can be effective in your system up to 36 hours. Cialis is useful in situations where you are not exactly sure when the opportunity to have sex will arise.