Side Effects Of Viagra, Cialis And Levitra

A Look at The Side Effects of Common ED Meds and What You Can Do About Them. 

Credit: Ben White / Unsplash

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.

An ancient philosopher once said “perfection is the enemy of good”. In other words, don’t let a futile quest for what is perfect blind you to good and serviceable alternatives. 

Erectile dysfunction medications like Viagra (sildenafil), Cialis (tadalafil) and Levitra (vardenafil), are imperfect, but that doesn’t mean they should necessarily be avoided.

One of the imperfections is their side effects. Like almost all prescription medication, sildenafil, tadalafil and vardenafil can produce a variety of mild to serious side effects in a percentage of users. 

Your doctor and the patient leaflet are the best resources for understanding the full range of potential side effects, but we thought we’d outline a few in this article to give you an idea of what to expect. 

Common Sildenafil/Viagra Side Effects:

  • Headache
  • Flushing (redness in face)
  • Upset Stomach
  • Abnormal Vision (changes to colour vision i.e. blue colour tinge) and blurred vision
  • Stuffy or Runny Nose
  • Back pain
  • Muscle Pain
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Rash

Rare and Serious Side Effects:

  • Priapism (an erection that will not go away) 
  • Sudden Vision Loss
  • Sudden Hearing Loss or Decrease in Hearing
  • Stroke
  • Heart Attack
  • Irregular Heartbeat

Common Tadalafil/Cialis Side Effects:

  • Headache
  • Indigestion
  • Back Pain
  • Muscle Aches
  • Flushing 
  • Stuffy or Runny Nose

Uncommon and Potentially Serious Side Effects:

  • Priapism
  • Colour Vision Changes
  • Sudden Decrease or Loss of Vision
  • Sudden Decrease or Loss of Hearing
  • Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
  • Dizziness 

Common Vardenafil/Levitra Side Effects:

  • Headache
  • Flushing 
  • Indigestion
  • Stuffy Nose

Less Common Side Effects:

  • Sudden decrease or loss of hearing
  • Temporary Memory Loss
  • Abnormal Vision (changes to colour vision)
  • Priapism

How to Manage Side Effects

Side effects like priapism (especially when your erection lasts longer than four hours), sudden loss of hearing or vision, chest pain, and fainting are uncommon—but they’re potentially very serious. Seek immediate medical attention if you are experiencing any of these rare side effects. 

You should also talk to your doctor or pharmacist if you’re bothered by any of the mild and common side effects listed above or are experiencing new or worsening side effects. 

Try a Lower Dose

Your health care professional might decide to put you on a lower dosage to try and mitigate any side effects. With less of the drugs’ active ingredients in your system, your body may better respond to them. Sildenafil (Viagra), tadalafil (Cialis) and vardenafil (Levitra) are all available in a range of doses from 10mg to 100mg. Cialis is also available in a daily dose ranging from 2.5mg – 5mg. 

Try Different Medication 

Switching erectile dysfunction medications is another potential strategy your doctor might recommend in the hopes of reducing side effects. Though Viagra, Cialis and Vardenafil all belong to the same class of drugs—known as PDE5 inhibitors—and have a similar mechanism of action, your body might react differently to their active ingredients. 

Avoid Certain Medications

Your doctor should also be aware of any medication you’re currently taking, as there is a potential for drug interactions that could lead to serious health consequences like heart attack or stroke. 

Drugs that contain nitrates, drugs known as “alpha-blockers” (normally used to treat prostate problems or high-blood pressure), other erectile dysfunction medicines, drugs that treat fungal or bacterial infections, and those used in the treatment of HIV, can all interact with Viagra, Cialis and Levitra and cause adverse effects. 

You should also avoid grapefruit products like juices when taking erectile dysfunction medicine. Grapefruit has the potential to increase levels of active ingredients in your system, which can increase the chances of side effects. You should also be careful with alcohol and cannabis consumption when taking medicine for erectile dysfunction. 

Worth the Risk?

Your doctor is the best resource for determining treatment options for erectile dysfunction. If you’re experiencing difficulties getting and keeping an erection more than half the time and over a period of three months, talk to your doctor. There are plenty of treatment options available.