Viagra Vs. Cialis: What Is There To Know? A Full Review

UPGUYS > Blog > ED Treatment > Viagra vs. Cialis: What Is There To Know? A Full Review

Medically reviewed by Mat Rezaei
Pharm.D., RPH, CEO-UPHEALTH
Written by the UPGUYS Editorial Team
Published on October 19, 2021

According to the “BC Medical Journal”, nearly 50 percent of Canadian men occasionally have a problem getting or keeping an erection. When erectile dysfunction (ED) becomes a problem, many men turn to oral ED medications, Such as Cialis and Viagra. They often help address the issue.

These drugs work in similar ways. Although, there are also some key differences, such as when you should take them, how long they work, and their side effects. This is a full review of these differences between Cialis and Viagra.

Source: WebMD


In the following, you will find: 

- What is Cialis (Tadalafil)?

- What is Viagra (Sildenafil)?

- What are the differences between Cialis and Viagra?

- Cialis vs. Viagra, which one is better?

- Cialis vs. Viagra, what dosage should you use?

- Cialis vs. Viagra, recreational use

- Cialis vs. Viagra, cost analysis

- UPGUYS ED products

- Side effects of Cialis vs. Viagra

- What drugs interact with Cialis, what with Viagra?

- Key takeaways

- Disclaimer


What is Cialis (Tadalafil)?

Tadalafil, with the brand name Cialis among others, is a well-known medication for treating sexual function problems in men such as ED or impotence. It also alleviates the symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia (i.e., difficulty in beginning the flow of urine, weak urine stream (the need to urinate frequently and urgently), and pulmonary arterial hypertension.

Tadalafil works by relaxing the muscle in the prostate and bladder. It is a PDE5 inhibitor that increases blood flow to the penis. It also dilates blood vessels in the lungs, which lowers the pulmonary artery pressure.

How Tadalafil can treat ED


Cialis is available only by prescription, and you cannot buy it over the counter. It is a tablet taken by mouth. Cialis typically works within half an hour, and the duration can be up to 36 hours.

Read more: Simple Steps To Increase Blood Flow To Penis Now


What is Viagra (Sildenafil)?

Sildenafil, with the brand name Viagra among others, is a medication used to treat erectile dysfunction and pulmonary arterial hypertension.

It increases blood flow to the penis and helps men to achieve and keep an erection. At least two-thirds of men have improved erections after taking it

Viagra is an approved drug to treat erectile dysfunction (ED) and is sold to males ages 18 and older.

Sildenafil effectiveness statistics


Much like Cialis, Viagra also belongs to a class of drugs called phosphodiesterase type 5 or (PDE5) inhibitors. But this drug only works with sexual arousal. Viagra comes as tablets, and in most cases, it should be taken about an hour before sexual activity. Still, it can be taken half an hour to 4 hours beforehand.

Read more: Viagra’s Effects On The Body


What are the differences between Cialis and Viagra?

As we mentioned before, Cialis (tadalafil) and Viagra (Sildenafil) are both PDE5 inhibitors used for treating impotence (erectile dysfunction, or ED). Therefore, most of their side effects are more or less similar.

Commonly shared side effects of Cialis and Viagra include:

- Flushing

- Headaches

- Upset stomach

- Flu-like symptoms

- Memory problems

- Muscle pain

- Dizziness

- Diarrhea

- Nausea

- Low blood pressure 

- Ringing noise in the ears

You take both medicines as needed.

Although, one significant difference between the two drugs is how long they stay in your system. 

Cialis provides penile hardness over a longer period than Viagra. Cialis lasts up to 18 hours (sometimes up to 36 hours), while Viagra only lasts for about 4 to 6 hours.


In the following table, you can see the main differences between Viagra and Cialis.

The table of differences between Cialis and Viagra


Cialis vs. Viagra, which one is better?

Compared to placebo or using no medication, both Cialis and Viagra are effective drugs that treat erectile dysfunction. Most of the differences between the two have to do with how long the drug lasts, how it is taken, and the person’s medical history.

You may need to try more than one type of ED drug to find one that works for you. 

Yet, never take more than one erectile dysfunction tablet of any kind within 24 hours. Also, do not switch medications or change the dose of your treatment without first consulting your doctor. 

Although Viagra and Cialis are both practical, Cialis may be preferred for its once-daily dosage, as it gives you more freedom to be spontaneous in your sex life. Viagra may be preferred for its shorter half-life for those who only use it occasionally and as needed, and of course, at a lower price than Cialis.

In a meta-analysis pooling 16 different trials and analyzing over 5000 patients, Cialis and Viagra showed similar effectiveness and safety. These results were based on the International Index of Erectile Function (IIEF)-EF scale, which is widely used to assess erectile function. 

Both drugs had similar incidences of side effects. However, those taking Cialis experienced improved sexual confidence and preferred it over Viagra due to feeling less pressure about planning with its longer-acting effects.

Another study showed that there were no significant differences between the two drugs. Cialis, however, was suggested to offer more flexibility because of its longer half-life.

Cialis has a few advantages when compared to Viagra


If you have ED, your first step should be consulting with a doctor to determine which treatment option may be best for you. Depending on your unique situation, one medication may be more effective or preferred over the other.

Consult with our doctors 


Cialis vs. Viagra, what dosage should you use?

Cialis dosage: The usual recommended starting dose of tadalafil (Cialis) is 10 mg per day before sexual activity. Depending on the adequacy of the response or side effects, the dose may be increased to 20 mg or decreased to 5 mg a day. 

The effect of tadalafil may last up to 36 hours. For men who are taking medications that increase their blood levels, Tadalafil should not exceed a total dose of 10 mg in 72 hours. 

For once daily use without regard to sexual activity, the recommended dose is 2.5 to 5 mg daily. It should not be taken more than once daily. 

The dose of tadalafil may need some adjustments for patients with kidney or liver function problems.

Viagra dosage: The recommended starting dose of Sildenafil (Viagra) is 25 to 100 mg 1 hour before sexual activity. Although, the maximum dose is 100 mg daily. 

Older men (+65-year-olds) should start at 25 mg before sexual activity. If Sildenafil is taken with a high-fat meal, its onset may be delayed.

Read more: Getting The Most Out Of Your ED Medication


Cialis vs. Viagra, recreational use

Most men who use Viagra and other ED medications do so legally after receiving a valid prescription from their healthcare provider. 

However, since Viagra is well known for being effective for ED, it’s often used recreationally by men looking to increase their sexual performance to get harder and more reliable erections.

Research published in the journal Archives of Sexual Behavior found that four percent of otherwise healthy men reported using ED drugs like Viagra recreationally.

ED drugs recreational use


Here are some reasons that men might use ED drugs without actually needing to:

Curiosity

Among other reasons for use reported by the men, more than 70 percent mentioned that they were just curious about the effects of Viagra, And most of them got the drug from a friend.

Counteracting with other drugs 

Some men report using ED medications to counteract the effects of other medications they may have taken that affected their ability to get or keep an erection.

Read more: What You Should (and Shouldn’t) Take With Viagra


Impressing Someone

Other common reasons for recreational ED medication use included increasing erection hardness, enhancing self-esteem, and impressing their sexual partner.

Although most men who take Viagra recreationally take it before sexual activity, there is a small percentage of men who use it to boost their athletic performance.

Read more: Putting Your Heart Into Sexual Health


Athletic effects

Occasionally referred to as “Vitamin V” by some athletes, Viagra appears to have a mildly positive impact on certain types of exercise. 

A 2004 study found that Viagra increased the maximum exercise capacity of a group of mountaineers and trekkers, both at sea level and at altitude.


Although Viagra was originally approved for treating ED, its ingredient sildenafil is also used to treat pulmonary hypertension. Therefore, as vasodilators, most ED medications can increase blood flow to the lungs and potentially improve athletic performance.

Anecdotal reports suggest that some athletes may combine ED medications with steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs to boost their athletic performance. 

However, there is no research on the effects of these substances used together or their popularity.

Using ED drugs to improve athletic performance is highly dangerous - Source: Addiction Resource


Anabolic steroid use comes with serious health risks of its own, including but not limited to:

- A low sperm count

- Testicular atrophy (shrinkage of testicles)

- Gynecomastia (male breast growth)

- High blood pressure 

- An increased risk of heart attack or stroke. 

Although, for some athletes, Viagra may be a necessity to improve sexual function that’s been affected by years of steroid abuse.

So if you are here to see which drug, Viagra vs. Cialis, gives you a harder erection or which one you can use to have a fun weekend, Here’s a straightforward answer:

Do not use ED medications recreationally. It is dangerous and would not worth the risk.

You cannot ask which one is more effective between Cialis & Viagra, because they are both powerful and effective drugs that you should not use without a doctor’s prescription. Their effectiveness is highly related to each person’s situation.


Cialis vs. Viagra, cost analysis

Cost is another notable distinction between Viagra and Cialis. The more prolonged effect of Cialis is reflected in its price. While Cialis is slightly more expensive than Viagra, many men will consider the vastly greater duration period of Cialis to represent good value for money. 

Equally, plenty of men will prefer the lower price and famous brand name offered only by Viagra. But ultimately, it depends entirely on the individual.

Cialis is slightly more expensive than Viagra


The price you pay for any drug will depend on your insurance plan and your pharmacy. Generic versions of Viagra and Cialis can cost half as much as their brand-name equivalents, if not less.

Viagra and Cialis are usually stocked at most pharmacies. In general, most health insurance companies would not cover their costs. Yet you should know that if you have a certain medical condition, your health plan may pay for the drug with prior authorization.


UPGUYS ED products

UPGUYS offers both Tadalafil (Generic Cialis) and Sildenafil (Generic Viagra).

- Sildenafil (Generic Viagra) is available in 4 tablet packages (50 mg tablets).

- Tadalafil (Generic Cialis) is available in 4 tablet packages (10 mg tablets).

- Tadalafil Daily (Generic Cialis Daily) is available in 28 tablet packages (5 mg tablets).

You can always talk to UPGUYS doctors to find out which medication is best for you.

Talk to our doctors

UPGUYS ED medications


Side effects of Cialis vs. Viagra

There are some shared side effects for Cialis and Viagra; those include:

Flushing, headaches, stomach pain, flu-like symptoms, memory problems, muscle or back pain, blurred vision and changes in color vision, dizziness, diarrhea, nausea, low blood pressure, abnormal ejaculation, prolonged erections, loss of hearing, and ringing in the ears.

A few examples of Cialis and Viagra similar side effects


Cialis

If you are taking Cialis and you experience nausea, chest pain, or dizziness during sex, seek immediate medical help, as you may have a life-threatening condition.

The most common side effects of tadalafil are:

- Flushing (redness and warmth of the face, chest, and neck)

- Headaches

- Upset stomach and abdominal pain

- Diarrhea

- Flu-like symptoms (stuffy nose, sneezing, or sore throat)

- Nausea

- Low blood pressure

- Blurred vision

- Changes in color vision

- An abnormal ejaculation

- An erection that lasts more than four hours which can damage the penis, Also known as Priapism.

Viagra

If you are taking Viagra and you experience nausea, chest pain, or dizziness during sex, seek immediate medical help as you may have a life-threatening condition.

Approximately 15% of men taking Viagra experience side effects. The most common side effects are:

- Flushing

- Headaches

- Stomach pain

- Nasal congestion

- Nausea

- Dizziness

- Rash

- Urinary tract infections (UTIs)

- Diarrhea

- Difficulty differentiating between the colors green and blue

Read more: Side Effects Of Viagra, Cialis And Levitra


What drugs interact with Cialis, what with Viagra?

Cialis and Viagra are both PDE5 inhibitors and therefore have similar drug interactions. Using PDE5 inhibitors with any drug that can decrease blood pressure can be dangerous. Do not use Cialis and Viagra with:

- Nitrates (Angina medication)

- Alpha-blockers (treatment of high blood pressure and prostate problems in men)

- Antihypertensives (blood pressure-lowering drugs)

- Riociguat (pulmonary arterial hypertension treatment drug)

Taking these medications together can cause dangerously low blood pressure.


Key takeaways

- Erectile dysfunction is a common problem where a man finds it hard to get or keep an erection.

- The main symptom of erectile dysfunction is not being able to get or keep an erection.

- Treatment for erectile dysfunction depends on the cause. Treatments include medicines, vacuum pumps, healthy lifestyle changes, and talking therapy.

- Cialis (tadalafil) and Viagra (Sildenafil) are oral drugs that are used for treating impotence (ED) and benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). 

 - Cialis and Viagra are in a class of drugs called phosphodiesterase-5 (PDE5) inhibitors that also include vardenafil and avanafil.

- Cialis is usually more expensive and has a longer effect than Viagra. You cannot buy these drugs without a prescription.


Disclaimer

Your healthcare provider is the best source of health and medical information. Articles written by UPGUYS are informed by peer-reviewed studies and research, as well as governmental health authorities and agencies—but they cannot replace advice from a healthcare professional. Talk to your healthcare provider about any physical or mental health concerns you might have.