Levitra vs. Sildenafil

The differences and similarities between the two popular erectile dysfunction drugs.


Vardenafil vs. Sildenafil

Vardenafil and sildenafil are two popular erectile dysfunction medications. Vardenafil is commonly sold under the brand name Levitra, whilst sildenafil is sold as Viagra. Appreciating the differences and similarities between the two includes understanding their side effects, the time it takes for them to work, how long their effects last and contraindications.


The similarities

Vardenafil and sildenafil are both phosphodiesterase 5 (PDE-5) inhibitors. They work by blocking the PDE-5 enzyme, which usually stops an erection if not inhibited. At the same time, blood flow to the penis is promoted and an erection becomes easier to maintain.

Both drugs are taken orally as tablets. They are available in various doses and must be taken before sexual intercourse. Because their patents have expired, generic alternatives to Levitra and Viagra are available.

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The differences

Viagra is available in doses of 25 mg, 50 mg or 100 mg, whilst Levitra is sold as 5 mg, 10 mg or 20 mg tablets. A typical dose for Viagra is 50 mg. Most doctors prescribe 5 mg to 10 mg of Levitra. Older men may be prescribed lower doses. Doctors will usually start a patient on a lower dose which can be increased or doubled if the effect is not as desired.


To achieve the best effect, sildenafil must be taken 30 to 60 minutes before sex. Vardenafil should be taken at least one hour before intercourse but it has been shown to be effective within just 10 minutes. The effect of vardenafil lasts longer (up to 5 hours), compared to sildenafil (4 hours).


Pfizer’s patent for Viagra expired in 2019 and generic versions of the drug are now available in the US and Europe. Generic versions of the prescription drug cost a fraction of the price the original. Bayer continues to sell Levitra, but the patent for vardenafil has expired paving the way for competitors to produce cheaper versions of the drug.


Side effects

The side effects of Viagra and Levitra are similar. They include headaches, dizziness, an upset stomach, flushing and back pain. Feeling nauseous, vision changes, and rashes are more likely in patients taking Viagra whilst indigestion is a more common side effect of Levitra.


According to a comparison of clinical trials by the University of Queensland, Australia, vardenafil was just as effective in treating erectile dysfunction, but its advantage is that it did not alter color perception. The latter is a less common side effect in sildenafil because the drug not only affects PDE-5 but also PDE-6.


When it comes to choosing the right erectile dysfunction medication, it may be best to tryl a few different ones. Some men may experience side effects with sildenafil but have none with vardenafil. Other times, the dosage may make the biggest difference.


Be aware that erectile dysfunction drugs can lower blood pressure. Although studies have found that sildenafil is generally safe even when taken together with blood pressure-lowering medications, there are no long-term safety studies. It’s best to consult a doctor, especially if you’re also taking blood pressure-lowering medications



  1. "Is generic Viagra available in the U.S.?". in , , 2019, <> [accessed 3 October 2019].
  2. Doggrell, S, "Comparison of clinical trials with sildenafil, vardenafil and tadalafil in erectile dysfunction.". in Expert Opinion on Pharmacotherapy, 6, 2005, 75-84.
  3. "Effect of Regular Sildenafil on Blood Pressure and Arterial Function in Hypertension - Full Text View -". in , , 2019, <,as%20sildenafil%2C%20relax%20blood%20vessels.&targetText=These%20have%20shown%20that%20sildenafil,single%20dose%20for%20erectile%20dysfunction.> [accessed 3 October 2019].


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