Cialis vs Viagra

Dr Babak Ashrafi

Medically reviewed by

Dr Babak Ashrafi

Cialis and Viagra are medications used to treat erectile dysfunction (ED). ED is a common sexual health issue for men. It happens when you find it difficult to get or keep an erection during sex.

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It’s common for men not to get an erection occasionally. You might have ED if you frequently struggle to get an erection.

There are several treatments available for ED. The most common of these include Viagra and Cialis. The best treatment for you depends on different factors, including dosage and cost. You can discuss these factors with your doctor to make sure you take the most suitable treatment for you.

Erectile dysfunction is often confused with premature ejaculation. Premature ejaculation is another sexual health issue in men that happens when you ejaculate too soon during sex.

Key differences between Viagra and Cialis

There are several key differences between Viagra and Cialis. Both Viagra and Cialis will give you the same result, but you may tolerate one over the other.

You might get side effects with one ED medication and none with another. Sometimes, you have to try a couple of different treatments to find the right one for you.

Active ingredient

The active ingredient in Viagra is sildenafil citrate, and in Cialis it’s tadalafil. Both are from the same group of medicines called phosphodiesterase type-5 (PDE-5) inhibitors.

PDE-5 inhibitors work by increasing the blood flow to your penis which makes it easier for you to get or keep an erection. They do this by increasing the levels of a chemical called cGMP in your blood vessels. cGMP is only released when you are sexually stimulated. PDE-5 inhibitors will not give you an erection outside of this.

Dosage

Both Viagra and Cialis can be taken around an hour before you plan on having sex. If you take Cialis Daily, you’ll take 1 tablet every day. Cialis Daily is suitable for you if you anticipate having frequent sex, for example more than around twice a week.

Viagra is available in 25mg, 50mg and 100mg tablets. Cialis is available in 10mg and 20mg tablets. Cialis Daily is available as 2.5mg and 5mg tablets.

A 50mg dose of Viagra is equivalent to a 10mg dose of Cialis. These are the starting doses of each respective medication.

Some factors can impact the dosage of Viagra or Cialis. These include certain foods and medications you might take. Speak to your doctor or pharmacist before taking ED treatment if you’re taking any regular medications.

Greasy, heavy or high fat meals can slow down the absorption of Viagra. You do not have to take Viagra on an empty stomach but try to avoid heavy meals.

Heavy meals do not affect Cialis, so you can take it regardless of what you’ve eaten.

Duration of effects

The effects of Viagra will last around 4 hours after you take a tablet. This means you’ll be able to get and maintain an erection with sexual stimulation within these 4 hours.

Cialis lasts much longer in your system. A Cialis tablet will be effective for up to 36 hours (a day and a half). This can be suitable for you if you want to take fewer tablets throughout the week.

Cost

Viagra is a cheaper erectile dysfunction treatment than Cialis.

Viagra has been available as ED treatment for longer than Cialis, which has made it more widely available. You can buy Viagra Connect over the counter at most pharmacies, whereas you need a prescription for Cialis.

There are several key differences between Viagra and Cialis. Both Viagra and Cialis will give you the same result, but you may tolerate one over the other.

You might get side effects with one ED medication and none with another. Sometimes, you have to try a couple of different treatments to find the right one for you.

Is Cialis or Viagra more effective?

Both Cialis and Viagra are effective at treating erectile dysfunction. Sometimes, you might find one works better for you than the other. This can be different between individuals. You can give Cialis or Viagra a trial to see which treatment is better for you.

Can Cialis and Viagra be taken together?

You should not take Cialis and Viagra together. Taking both medications together can cause serious side effects. This includes significantly low blood pressure. You should only use one ED treatment at any one time and only at the dose prescribed.

ED medications are not designed to be taken every day. You should only take Cialis or Viagra an hour before you want to have sex and not more than once a day. The only exception to this is Cialis Daily, where you take a low dose (2.5mg or 5mg) of Cialis every day.

Common side effects of Viagra and Cialis

The common side effects of Cialis and Viagra include:

  • headache
  • muscle aches
  • back pain
  • nasal congestion (a stuffy nose)
  • indigestion
  • facial flushing

Common side effects can happen to 1 in 10 men that take Viagra or Cialis. They’re usually temporary side effects and will disappear after a few hours.

If you get side effects that you cannot tolerate, speak to your doctor. They might recommend reducing the dose of the medication.

If you have a heart condition that affects your blood vessels, speak to your doctor before taking Viagra or Cialis. Certain medications for heart disease should not be used with ED medications. These include nitrates for chest pain.

Which one is best for me?

The best treatment for you is down to your personal preference and your current state of health. Many people start by taking Viagra first as it is the most common and widely available ED medication. You can get Viagra Connect at your local pharmacy without needing to make an appointment.

If Viagra is not effective for you, you can try Cialis. You may also consider taking Cialis if you want to take fewer tablets throughout the week as it lasts longer in your system. If you anticipate having sex frequently throughout the week, you can speak to your doctor about taking Cialis Daily.

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Medically reviewed by:
Dr Babak Ashrafi Clinical Lead for Service Expansion

Babak studied medicine at King’s College London and graduated in 2003, having also gained a bachelor’s degree in Physiology during his time there. He completed his general practice (GP) training in East London, where he worked for a number of years as a partner at a large inner-city GP practice. He completed the Royal College of GPs membership exam in 2007.

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Article created: 06 Jul 2022


ZAVA offers a convenient and discreet service to help men improve their erectile dysfunction. There are a number of treatments you can consider. Continue to our erectile dysfunction service page to learn about the treatment options available.







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