What Are the Side Effects of Tadalafil?

It’s a safe medication, but what side effects could tadalafil give you?

Last reviewed: 10 Jan 2019

Pack of 8 20mg tadalafil film-coated tablets that could cause tadalafil side effects
Contents of this article

Tadalafil is a popular medication that’s used to treat erectile dysfunction. It’s generally very safe, but there are some side effects to be aware of.

What side effects can tadalafil give me?

Tadalafil is a safe and reliable medical treatment for erectile dysfunction. As with any medication, it can sometimes cause some side effects.

But, side effects from tadalafil will vary from person to person. They are also usually mild to moderate in severity, and many people won’t experience any side effects at all.

Most common side effects

A headache is the most common – around 15% of all people who take tadalafil will experience this.

Other common side effects, which affect about 1 in 10 people:

  • Back pain
  • Muscle aches
  • Redness (flushing) in the face
  • Blocked or stuffy nose
  • Indigestion

Back pain or muscle aches usually happen up to 12 to 24 hours after taking tadalafil, and should go away within 2 days. If your aches don’t go away after 2 days, contact at nurse or doctor for advice.

Less common side effects

These affect up to 1 in 100 people using tadalafil:

  • Feeling dizzy or tired
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Stomach ache
  • Eye pain or blurred vision
  • Difficulty with breathing
  • Finding blood in your urine
  • Prolonged erections
  • Changes to your blood pressure
  • Nosebleeds
  • Swollen hands, ankles or feet
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Allergic reactions
  • Chest pain

Rare side effects

These affect up to 1 in 1,000 people:

  • Fainting
  • Memory loss
  • Seizures
  • Swollen eyelids or red eyes
  • Loss of hearing
  • Hives (itchy red rash on the skin)
  • Blood from the penis or in semen
  • Sweating
  • Priapism (a prolonged, possibly painful erection)
  • Sudden loss of vision

Other rare side effects have been reported:

  • Partial or temporary loss of vision
  • Migraine
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke. This was mainly in men who had heart problems before taking tadalafil

These are all rare side effects, and reported outside of clinical trials.

Am I likely to get side effects from Tadalafil?

Most people have a 10% chance of side effects. But age has an impact. For example, men over 75 years old are more likely to report the side effect of dizziness when taking tadalafil, and men over 65 are more likely to report diarrhoea.

Studies have also shown that higher dosages mean a risk of longer-lasting side effects. Tadalafil comes in four different dosages: 2.5mg, 5mg, 10mg, and 20mg. Your online doctor or GP may recommend a lower dosage to help ease any side effects that are bothering you.

How can I avoid getting side effects from Tadalafil?

Tips for avoiding side effects of tadalafil:

  • Try taking a lower dosage
  • Avoid grapefruit or grapefruit juice. It interacts with tadalafil and increases your risk of getting side effects
  • Avoid drinking too much alcohol, to reduce the risk of dizziness
  • Make sure you wait for the right amount of time between doses – 24 hours
  • Avoid taking herbal supplements for erectile dysfunction as some can contain trace dosages of PDE-5 inhibitors that can interact with your treatment and cause side effects

For more specialised advice on avoiding side effects from tadalafil, discuss your lifestyle choices and diet with your nurse or GP.

Don’t avoid seeking treatment, even if you’re concerned about getting side effects. A doctor won’t prescribe tadalafil for you if they think you’re at risk of serious problems.

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What should I do if I get Tadalafil side effects?

You could wait them out. The most common side effects from tadalafil should appear 12 to 24 hours after taking it, and should go away after two days. Common side effects are usually nothing to worry about, unless they’re very strong or last for a long time.

Talk to a medical professional. If your side effects are very strong or last for a long time, you should seek medical advice from your nurse, online doctor, or GP. They’ll discuss your options with you, and help work out whether the things you’re experiencing are the side effects of tadalafil, or something else.

You may not need to stop using tadalafil. Don’t feel like you need to stop taking your medication without first seeking professional advice. Always follow the guidance they give you.

Is it an emergency? If you’re ever in pain or serious discomfort while you’re taking tadalafil, seek medical help as soon as possible. The same goes for if you have:

  • Allergic reactions (including skin rashes, like hives)
  • Sudden chest pain
  • Priapism (a prolonged erection, which is sometimes painful)
  • Sudden loss of vision

Is there another option with no side effects?

All erectile dysfunction medications come with side effects – studies have shown that treating erectile dysfunction (ED) with medication like Tadalafil (known as a PDE-5 inhibitor) all causes similar side effects. This means that there shouldn’t be much difference in the effects between different ED drugs, such as Sildenafil.

Other forms of ED treatments can cause side effects too – penis pumps or other hand-held devices, will come with risks of other side effects, like muscle strain or bruising.

There are some treatment options with no risk of side effects – talk to your nurse or GP if you are considering alternative forms of treatment for your ED. There are several options available, including some which will have no physical side effects at all (like counselling, or certain lifestyle changes). Medications like Tadalafil are easy to use and get to work quickly and you may find treatments with no side effects are less convenient.

Is there another option with no side effects?

All erectile dysfunction (ED) medications can come with side effects.

Treatment options with no risk of side effects would include counselling, or certain lifestyle changes.

Studies have shown that treating ED with medications like tadalafil (known as PDE-5 inhibitors) causes similar side effects. This means that there shouldn’t be much difference in the effects between tadalafil and other ED drugs, like Viagra, Cialis, or Levitra.

Other forms of ED treatments can cause side effects too. Penis pumps and similar devices come with risks of other side effects, like muscle strain or bruising.


Dr Kathryn Basford is a qualified GP who works as a GP in London, as well as with Zava. She graduated from the University of Manchester and completed her GP training through Whipps Cross Hospital in London.

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Last reviewed: 10 Jan 2019

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