Deciding Between ED Medications: Which is Better – Sildenafil or Tadalafil?

Amar Lunagaria • NiHowdy Founder
Reviewed May 6, 2024 • 11 min read

If you’re evaluating erectile dysfunction treatments, you’ve likely encountered the sildenafil vs tadalafil debate. Which is better sildenafil or tadalafil? We provide a no-fluff comparison on efficacy, safety, and practicality to guide your choice.

Key Takeaways

  • Sildenafil (Viagra) has a rapid onset of action and is effective for about 4-6 hours, while Tadalafil (Cialis) can last up to 36 hours and is often preferred for its longer duration and flexibility with dosage timing.

  • Both Sildenafil and Tadalafil have high success rates in improving erectile function, but while Sildenafil leads slightly in efficacy, Tadalafil is favored for longer lasting effects and may boost sexual confidence more effectively.

  • Cost and accessibility are important factors, with Tadalafil generally being more affordable due to generic availability. Additionally, prescription discount cards can help manage costs and even offer additional savings or benefits.

Understanding Sildenafil and Tadalafil

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Both Sildenafil and Tadalafil are oral medications classified as PDE5 inhibitors, which constitute the primary treatment for erectile dysfunction. They improve erections by relaxing the smooth muscle tissue in the penis and increasing blood flow to facilitate an erection when sexually stimulated. While they assist with achieving and maintaining erections, these drugs do not cure underlying causes of ED or ensure a lasting return to normal erectile function once their use is stopped.

Sildenafil, widely recognized under the trade name Viagra, is preferred for its quick action time whereas Tadalafil, known commercially as Cialis, stands out for its prolonged effectiveness that has led to it being referred to as ‘the weekend pill’.

Mechanism of Action: How ED Drugs Work

Sildenafil and tadalafil belong to a group of drugs known as PDE5 inhibitors, which are tailored for the treatment of erectile dysfunction. These medications enhance penile blood flow and relax the smooth muscle tissue necessary for obtaining an erection upon sexual stimulation. They achieve this by inhibiting the action of the PDE5 enzyme selectively, thereby extending the length of an erection through sustained increased blood flow in penile tissues.

The core method by which they support those dealing with erectile dysfunction is centered on fostering a penile erection and mitigating issues related to sexual dysfunction.

Sildenafil (Viagra) Overview

Since its debut in 1998, sildenafil—better known under the brand name Viagra—has gained global acclaim as a trusted ED medication for treating erectile dysfunction. It has aided countless men across the world in attaining and sustaining satisfactory erections, cementing its status as an effective remedy for this condition.

Tadalafil (Cialis) Overview

Lilly introduced Cialis into the market in 2003 as a new option for ED medication, with tadalafil as its active ingredient. Known affectionately as ‘the weekend pill’ due to its extended effectiveness of up to 36 hours, it surpasses other ED medications in duration. Within just half an hour, users can experience the quick commencement of tadalafil’s effects.

This particular advantage is bolstered by cialis’s versatile consumption. It can be ingested irrespective of meal times without affecting performance or convenience.

Comparing Efficacy: Sildenafil vs Tadalafil

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Over 90% of men experience enhanced erections with Sildenafil, whereas Tadalafil helps approximately 81% in achieving similar results. Despite the marginally higher success rate demonstrated by Sildenafil for satisfactory erections, this advantage is balanced out by the more prolonged impact of Tadalafil which offers a more extensive period for achieving moderately to highly firm erections.

The extended effectiveness duration provided by Tadalafil could make it the preferred choice for some individuals seeking a larger window of opportunity, while others may opt for Sildenafil due to its superior peak efficacy.

Onset of Action: Which Works Faster?

Regarding the onset of action, Sildenafil often acts more quickly. It usually promotes an erection within 30 to 60 minutes and attains its highest level in the blood after about an hour. Meanwhile, Tadalafil begins to have an effect within a similar time frame of 30 to 60 minutes post-ingestion but reaches its peak concentration at around two hours following dosage. There are instances where users have experienced Tadalafil becoming effective in just 15-20 minutes.

Despite these details, it’s important to recognize that both medications require certain durations following intake before they enable one to achieve an erection.

Duration of Effect: Longevity of Erectile Function

When comparing the longevity of effects, Tadalafil stands out. Its impact lasts for an impressive span of up to 36 hours post-consumption, easily surpassing Sildenafil whose efficacy spans only between 4 and 6 hours.

The prolonged effectiveness offered by Tadalafil grants a more extensive period for sexual activity without strict scheduling constraints, which is advantageous for individuals seeking greater flexibility and spontaneity in their intimate moments.

Dosage and Administration: Sildenafil vs Tadalafil

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It’s important to pay attention to the dosage and method of taking these medications. Sildenafil is commonly prescribed at a standard dose of 50 mg, which should be consumed orally with water, food is optional, roughly one hour prior to sexual activity. To avoid potential complications, users are advised not to take it more than once per day. They can ingest it within a time frame ranging from half an hour up to four hours before engaging in sexual intercourse. A lower starting dose of 25 mg may be suggested for individuals over the age of 65 or those with certain medical conditions.

When assessing versatility and options for regular consumption, we must examine Tadalafil’s specific dosing instructions and usage guidelines in greater detail.

Taking Sildenafil: Guidelines and Timing

The dosage of Sildenafil may vary from 25 to 100 mg, tailored to the patient’s unique requirements and reactions. To ensure maximum effectiveness, it should be ingested on an empty stomach since consuming a substantial meal rich in fat can diminish its potency. It is essential to time the intake of Sildenafil properly in relation to anticipated sexual activity. Keep in mind that if taken following a meal, there might be a delay in its effects.

Taking Tadalafil: Flexibility and Daily Use

Tadalafil provides versatile dosing alternatives, comprising a pill for daily intake as well as an on-demand option. For those starting on the daily regimen, 2.5 mg is the suggested initial dose, which can be adjusted to 5 mg based on individual necessity. This medication comes in various formulations including tablet and suspension forms, thus offering patients flexible modes of administration.

Side Effects and Safety Profile

Side effects and safety profile comparison

It is essential to grasp the safety profiles and potential adverse effects of medications, such as Sildenafil and Tadalafil. Typical side effects shared by both drugs are:

  • headaches

  • nausea

  • hot flushes

  • indigestion

  • nasal congestion

Users of Sildenafil might encounter symptoms like flushing and indigestion, whereas those taking Tadalafil may be more prone to muscle aches.

The overall ratio of negative events for both medications suggests that they have similar levels of safety when it comes to their use.

Sildenafil: Potential Drug Interactions and Risks

Individuals taking sildenafil must be cognizant of possible drug interactions and hazards, particularly for those suffering from high blood pressure. The concurrent use of nitrates with this medication is contraindicated due to the danger it poses in precipitating severe and possibly life-threatening reductions in blood pressure levels. For patients on potent CYP3A4 inhibitors, starting at a reduced dose of sildenafil is recommended to circumvent the escalation in drug levels that could lead to associated risks.

While uncommon, critical adverse effects such as abrupt hearing loss or priapism have been reported. These situations necessitate urgent care from healthcare professionals.

Tadalafil: Considerations and Precautions

Individuals taking tadalafil should be aware of the possibility of allergic reactions. Such severe reactions can present with various symptoms, such as:

  • swelling of the lips

  • swelling inside the mouth

  • swollen throat or tongue

  • trouble breathing

  • alterations in skin complexion

Before using tadalafil, individuals who have a history of allergies to medications must seek advice from their healthcare professional.

If one experiences any intense allergic reaction signs following ingesting tadalafil, it is critical to obtain urgent medical care.

User Experiences and Preferences

User experiences and preferences for Sildenafil and Tadalafil

Patient experiences and personal preferences frequently influence the decision to opt for either Sildenafil or Tadalafil. There appears to be a tendency among patients and their partners to favor Tadalafil, potentially leading to greater satisfaction with the treatment.

This inclination towards Tadalafil has been echoed in the findings of meta-analysis studies that indicate a preference trend leaning toward Tadalafil.

Sexual Desire and Performance Feedback

It should be emphasized that medications for erectile dysfunction (ED), such as sildenafil and tadalafil, are designed principally to enhance the capacity to attain an erection following sexual stimulation, rather than directly boosting sexual desire. Studies indicate that while both drugs serve this purpose, tadalafil may have a greater effect on elevating sexual confidence compared to sildenafil, which could suggest a positive influence on overall sexual performance.

Preference Polls: Sildenafil or Tadalafil?

Digital real-world evidence from a major German online prescription service revealed that patients who had experience with both drugs showed a pronounced preference for Tadalafil over Sildenafil. This trend was especially apparent in younger individuals under 40, those who maintained a body mass index at or below 25 kg/m2, and subjects experiencing persistent morning erections.

Cost and Accessibility: Sildenafil vs Tadalafil

Cost and accessibility play crucial roles when making a decision. Consider these insights.

  • Due to the expiration of its patent, tadalafil is less expensive than the branded version because generic versions are now available.

  • The consequence has been an augmentation in supply which has driven prices down.

  • As a result of market competition with generics of Tadalafil being readily available, along with discount programs offered by suppliers, this medication may be more affordable and accessible compared to Sildenafil.

Generic Cialis vs Viagra: Price Comparison

Generic versions of tadalafil and sildenafil can be purchased, offering consumers cost-effective alternatives. The price tags on these generic formulations are Less than those attached to the original branded products, mainly because patent expirations have led to heightened market competition.

Maximizing Savings with Prescription Discount Cards

Discount cards for prescriptions, such as NiHowdy’s, are designed to reduce the cost of medications by securing negotiated discounts on drug prices. These savings apply to individuals regardless of their insurance status. When purchasing prescriptions with NiHowdy’s discount card, customers can receive an extra perk—up to 3% cashback in Bitcoin.

Over time, the benefits amassed from utilizing NiHowdy’s prescription discount card may grow and provide a monetary reserve that could help manage escalating healthcare costs or contribute towards substantial financial obligations.

Addressing Common Concerns

There are prevalent worries surrounding the use of erectile dysfunction medications, despite their effectiveness and ease of access. To avoid potential issues, it’s essential to receive a thorough evaluation from a doctor who can assess one’s unique circumstances. A physician should examine an individual’s medical history and current medication regimen before recommending any ED treatment.

In pursuing treatments for erectile dysfunction, full transparency with healthcare professionals is vital. Patients must disclose all drugs they’re taking—whether prescription or over-the-counter—including any oral ED medications or alternative ED solutions. Such disclosure facilitates the delivery of safe and efficacious ED therapy.

Premature Ejaculation: Do ED Drugs Help?

Concerns exist regarding the impact of erectile dysfunction medications, such as Sildenafil (commonly known as Viagra) and Tadalafil (also referred to as Cialis), on premature ejaculation—a condition distinct from erectile dysfunction. Research has yet to show that these ed medications exert a considerable influence on mitigating the symptoms of premature ejaculation, indicating an absence of definitive proof endorsing their effectiveness for this specific sexual concern.

Over-the-Counter Products: Availability and Safety

In the United States, both sildenafil and tadalafil are prescription-only medications that cannot be bought over-the-counter. This regulation guarantees that a healthcare professional supervises their usage to maintain safety standards.


To summarize, both sildenafil and tadalafil are viable treatments for erectile dysfunction. Sildenafil is known for its quicker action, whereas tadalafil allows for a more extended period suitable for unplanned sexual activity. The side effects and safety of these medications are similar. User preferences typically lean towards tadalafil. The decision to use sildenafil or tadalafil should be based on personal requirements, inclinations, and medical history. It’s imperative to seek advice from a healthcare professional before selecting any of these medications.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do Sildenafil and Tadalafil work?

In response to sexual stimulation, sildenafil and tadalafil function by relaxing the smooth muscle tissue and enhancing blood flow to the penis, which aids in achieving an erection.

Which medication works faster, Sildenafil or Tadalafil?

Tadalafil typically takes longer to start working compared to Sildenafil, which often begins functioning within 30 to 60 minutes.

Which medication lasts longer, Sildenafil or Tadalafil?

The duration of tadalafil’s effects extends significantly longer, up to 36 hours, in contrast to sildenafil which maintains its effectiveness for only 4-6 hours.

Are there any common side effects of Sildenafil and Tadalafil?

Indeed, headaches, nausea, hot flashes, indigestion, and nasal congestion are frequently reported side effects of both sildenafil and tadalafil. Notably though, the incidence of muscle aches varies between these medications along with differences in the occurrence of flushing and indigestion specific to each drug.

Can I buy Sildenafil or Tadalafil over-the-counter?

In the United States, neither sildenafil nor tadalafil can be purchased over-the-counter. Acquiring them necessitates a prescription from a physician.

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