Levitra vs. Viagra: Everything You Need to Know

Published February 26th, 2021 by Erik Rivera
Fact Checked by
Camille Freking
Medically Reviewed:
Dr. Gerardo Sison
Updated Date: Mar 13th, 2021

An estimated 30 million men in the United States experience erectile dysfunction, also known as male impotence. Viagra, known under the generic name sildenafil, was introduced to the market in 1998 as the first U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved treatment for erectile dysfunction. Since then, other companies have worked to develop similar drugs to compete with it. One popular option is Levitra, which is also sold under the generic name vardenafil. The two drugs are quite similar in general, but when it comes to Levitra vs Viagra, here’s everything you need to know.

Conditions Treated

Both Levitra and Viagra are used to for the treatment of ED, but the generic version of Viagra, sold under the brand name Revatio, can also be used to treat pulmonary arterial hypertension, or high blood pressure in the lungs. 

Erectile dysfunction, which is sometimes called male impotence or ED, is a complex medical condition that causes men to experience limited blood flow to the penis. As a result, patients have difficulty getting or keeping an erection that is hard enough for sex, and they may also have difficulty achieving orgasm. Erections require coordination between the brain and the body, so there are a number of physical, psychological, and lifestyle factors that may influence erectile dysfunction.  

Health issues that commonly contribute to erectile dysfunction include atherosclerosis (clogged arteries), high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and obesity. Poor lifestyle habits like smoking, alcohol abuse, and use of illegal drugs can also cause erectile dysfunction. Erectile dysfunction can also develop as a common side effect of other prescription medications or over-the-counter medications.

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Dosing

Levitra

Levitra is manufactured as an oral tablet in strengths of 2.5 mg, 5 mg, 10 mg, and 20 mg. Most patients start taking Levitra at a dose of 10 mg in order to treat erectile dysfunction, but men over the age of 65 may take a lower dose of 5 mg. Your doctor will prescribe the right dose for you based on the severity of the condition being treated, your age, medical history, and other factors. The maximum dose of Levitra that should be taken in a 24 hour period is 20 mg. Patients may start taking a lower dose of Levitra and then increase their dose under medical supervision in order to find the proper dose that works to treat their symptoms.

Viagra

Viagra  is offered as an oral tablet in strengths of 25 mg, 50 mg, and 100 mg, with 50 mg being the most common dose. The maximum dose of Viagra that can be taken in a period of 24 hours is 100 mg, and doctors recommend that patients use the minimum amount of Viagra needed to manage their condition. Patients with certain medical conditions may need to take a lower dose of Viagra in order to prevent side effects. While the starting dose for Viagra is usually 50 mg, your doctor may prescribe you more or less of the medication based on your age, weight, specific medical history, and the severity of your condition. In general, most patients will be started on a lower dose of the drug and may increase to  higher dose if needed. It's best to take Viagra on an empty stomach. Taking Viagra after food, especially a high-fat meal, can cause the pill to take affect more slowly.

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Use and Effectiveness

Levitra and Viagra are both effective medications that can help men improve their symptoms of erectile dysfunction and gain back their confidence in the bedroom. The medications work in a similar way to increase blood flow to the penis.

Viagra is taken 30 to 60 minutes before anticipated sexual stimulation and lasts up to four hours, although most men notice their symptoms subsiding after two to three hours. Viagra is not prescribed for a daily dose the way other erectile dysfunction medications, like Cialis, can be prescribed, and most patients do not take the drug every day. 

Levitra should be taken 60 minutes before sexual activity but lasts slightly longer than Viagra, with an effectiveness period of four to five hours. Therefore, Levitra may be a better option for men who feel that Viagra does not last quite long enough for their needs. 

Risks

Levitra and Viagra are safe medications for most people when taken by patients who have a compatible medical history. However, not everyone will be able to take these medications safely. People with heart diseases or other contraindicated health conditions are considered at increased risk of dangerous side effects when taking either Levitra or Viagra. If you're unsure whether these ED medications will have negative drug interactions with your current medications, be sure to ask for medical advice.  

Viagra

Depending on their medical history and existing health, some men may not be good candidates for the use of Viagra to treat erectile dysfunction. Viagra can cause dangerous interactions with certain types of drugs, so patients taking medications called nitrates such as nitroglycerin, which are typically used to treat chest pain, or guanylate cyclase stimulators such as Adempas (riociguat), which are typically used to treat pulmonary hypertension, should not take Viagra, as they can experience an unsafe drop in blood pressure when taking Viagra. 

Viagra has been known to cause rare but serious cardiac side effects in some men. As a result, patients who have a medical history that includes heart problems as well as those who may be at risk of experiencing heart problems should talk to their doctor about their medical history before taking Viagra. Rare but serious cardiac side effects such as heart attack, irregular heartbeat, stroke, and death have occurred in men taking Viagra, and while most of these men had a prior history of heart problems, some patients did not. Therefore, everyone should use caution when taking Viagra and pay attention to any heart-related symptoms. 

Levitra

Patients who take medications used to treat pulmonary arterial hypertension, including riociguat (Adempas), as well as those who take nitrates for chest pain or heart problems should not take Levitra, as the medications can interact and cause a serious and unsafe drop in blood pressure. Levitra should also not be consumed with grapefruit, as grapefruit and grapefruit juice can interact with Levitra and increase your risk of experiencing certain side effects. 

Patients who have a history of heart problems or who are considered at risk of experiencing heart problems should discuss their medical history with their doctor prior to using Levitra. Additionally, patients with a history of any of the following conditions should make sure to give their doctors a clear overview of their medical history:

  • High or low blood pressure
  • Seizures
  • Stomach ulcers
  • Hearing or vision problems
  • An eye disorder such as retinitis pigmentosa (an inherited condition of the eye)
  • Liver or kidney disease
  • A blood cell disorder such as sickle cell anemia, multiple myeloma, or leukemia
  • A physical deformity of the penis (such as Peyronie's disease)

Side Effects

Levitra and Viagra are known to cause similar side effects. While most of the side effects caused by Levitra and Viagra are generally similar, Viagra is more likely to cause vision changes than Levitra, and Levitra is associated with fewer side effects than Viagra. Additionally, while Viagra is associated with side effects that include a rash and muscle aches, Levitra is not.  

Levitra

Like any medication, there are side effects associated with the use of Levitra. Common side effects of Levitra include:

  • Flushing (warmth, redness, or tingly feeling)
  • Stuffy nose
  • Nasal congestion
  • Upset stomach
  • Back pain
  • Sinus pain
  • Headache
  • Dizziness

Medical attention should be sought immediately if any of the following side effects of Levitra occur:

  • Ringing in your ears
  • Swelling in your hands, ankles, or feet
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sudden hearing loss
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Lightheadedness
  • Priapism (an erection that is painful or lasts 4 hours or longer)
  • Seizures

Other rarely reported, but serious, side effects of Levitra requiring immediate medical attention include:

  • Symptoms of a heart attack, including chest pain, nausea, sweating,  and pain spreading to your jaw or shoulder
  • Vision changes or sudden vision loss
  • An erection that is painful or lasts 4 hours or longer

Viagra

The side effects most commonly associated with Viagra include:

  • Headache
  • Flushing
  • Indigestion
  • Abnormal vision changes
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Back pain
  • Muscle pain
  • Dizziness
  • Rash
  • Nausea

Other rarely reported, but serious, side effects of Viagra requiring immediate medical attention include:

  • Priapism - erections lasting longer than four hours
  • Sudden vision loss in one or both eyes, which is a symptom of a serious eye problem called non-arteritic anterior ischemic optic neuropathy (NAION)
  • Sudden impaired hearing, hearing loss, or ringing in the ears
  • Symptoms of a heart attack or stroke including chest pain, nausea, and sweating
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Bleeding in the brain or lungs

Summary

Levitra and Viagra are both effective treatments for erectile dysfunction that can greatly improve the quality of life for men experiencing sexual dysfunction. The drugs work at a similar speed and last for a similar length of time. Both drugs for the treatment of erectile dysfunction are available in a generic form that is usually covered by most health insurance plans. Talk to your healthcare provider or a urology professional to see if either of these ED medications are right for you. Patients can also receive savings on the brand-name versions of the drugs with a pharmacy discount card from USA Rx.

Sources:
https://www.healthline.com/health/erectile-dysfunction/cialis-levitra-viagra 
https://www.aarp.org/home-family/sex-intimacy/info-12-2013/sex-erection-viagra-castleman.html
https://www.everydayhealth.com/drugs/levitra 
https://www.healthline.com/health/how-common-is-ed

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