How Long Does Cialis Last?

Published July 18th, 2022 by Chris Riley
Fact Checked by
Jacqueline Hensler
Medically Reviewed:
Erik Rivera

Cialis is a popular medication used for the treatment of erectile dysfunction (ED) and benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH).

It works by relaxing the muscles in the penis, which allows for increased blood flow and ultimately leads to an erection during arousal if you are experiencing erectile dysfunction.

The prescription medication comes in tablet form and is taken orally and the effects of Cialis usually last much longer than Viagra, although it may vary from person to person.

In this article, we will answer all of your questions about this popular erectile dysfunction medication including how it works, how long it lasts, and if there are any side effects to be aware of for you.

What is Cialis and how does it work?

Cialis is a phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitor (PDE5 inhibitor) drug for erectile dysfunction and benign prostatic hyperplasia (enlarged prostate).

Erectile dysfunction is a common condition that happens when a man is unable to get or maintain an erection due to medical problems or mental health concerns such as depression and relationship problems.

Benign prostatic hyperplasia is a condition in which the prostate gland becomes enlarged, potentially causing problems urinating.

It works by inhibiting the action of the PDE type 5 enzyme, which relaxes smooth muscles in the prostate and bladder neck, allowing for increased blood flow to the penis so you can achieve and maintain stronger erections.

The way it works for an enlarged prostate is that it increases your levels of cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cGMP) which is a vasodilator meaning it makes your arteries and blood vessels wider and helps to ease the symptoms of urinating with an enlarged prostate.

The active ingredient in Cialis is tadalafil, which is also the name of the generic form of the drug.

It needs to be noted that Cialis is only approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in men so if you are a woman then you are not supposed to take Cialis for any medical condition.

How long does it take to feel the effects of Cialis?

The onset of the effects from a single tablet of Cialis can take anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours. Viagra, on the other hand, usually only takes 30 minutes to an hour to start working.

Cialis can be taken with or without food and also as a daily or as-needed pill before sexual activity.

Please talk to your doctor or health care provider to find out the best treatment options for you.

How long does Cialis last?

Cialis can last anywhere from 24 hours up to 36 hours, whereas Viagra only lasts for about 4-6 hours.

This is one of the reasons why Cialis is sometimes called the “weekend pill” because you can take it Friday night and still be able to perform on Sunday morning.

You will not get an erection at the onset of effects as you need sexual stimulation to achieve it when taking Cialis and you may be able to have sex multiple times on one pill during the 36 hours it is effective.

Cialis may be a better option for you if you do not want to plan your sexual activity during a 4-6 hour window and would like to be more spontaneous.

What are the side effects of Cialis?

Some of the common side effects reported with Cialis include:

  • Headaches
  • Muscle pain
  • Back pain
  • Flushing (redness on your face, back, or chest)
  • Heartburn
  • Nasal congestion
  • Nausea or upset stomach

These side effects usually go away after a few hours as your body adjusts to the drug.

There can also be common side effects that usually will only affect you if you take Cialis daily and these include:

  • Urinary tract infections (UTIs)
  • Sore throat
  • Stomach pain
  • Respiratory infections
  • Diarrhea
  • Cough
  • Acid reflux

Cialis mostly has mild side effects; however, serious side effects are rare and can occur when taking Cialis and these include: 

  • Priapism which is an extremely painful erection that is defined as having a prolonged erection for more than 4 hours
  • Hypotension (low blood pressure)
  • Changes in your hearing or vision including hearing loss or loss of vision

If you experience any of these serious side effects, please call 911 or seek medical care immediately.

Are there any other adverse effects caused by Cialis?

You need to avoid taking Cialis if you are taking certain other medications as they can increase the likelihood of adverse events.

The most common medications you need to avoid because they may cause drug interactions while taking Cialis include:

  • High blood pressure medications, angina (chest pain) medications, or medications for heart conditions such as nitrates or alpha-blockers
  • Antiseizure drugs including phenytoin, fosphenytoin, and carbamazepine
  • HIV medications
  • Some antibiotics
  • Antifungal medications

Eating foods that are high in fat right before taking Cialis may cause it to take longer to take effect.

You also need to avoid consuming alcoholic beverages while taking Cialis as it can make it more difficult to become aroused and get an erection.

Alcohol consumption in conjunction with Cialis can also cause a drop in blood pressure to unsafe levels that can cause dizziness, fainting, and even a heart attack.

Grapefruit and grapefruit juices also need to be avoided as they can increase the chances of side effects. Finally, if you are taking the herbal supplement St. John's wort you need to stop taking it as it can also exacerbate the side effects of Cialis.

Please consult with your doctor or health care provider about any medications or supplements you are taking as well as any health conditions before you start any new medication.

What is the best way to take Cialis?

The best way to take Cialis is as prescribed by your doctor or health care provider. You can take it with or without food, preferably at the same time of day if you are prescribed a daily dose.

It is important to not crush, chew, split, or dissolve the tablet as this can decrease how well Cialis works.

Do not take more than one pill in a 24-hour period as this can increase your risk of experiencing adverse events.

If you accidentally take more than prescribed, please seek medical attention immediately.

What is the best dosing for Cialis?

The recommended starting dose of Cialis for most men is a tablet of a single dose of tadalafil 10 mg before sexual activity although take whatever dose is prescribed by your doctor.

If you are taking certain other medications your doctor may start you on a lower dose of Cialis.

The maximum recommended dosing frequency is once per day in most men. If you are taking certain other medications your doctor may recommend you take Cialis only every other day.

If you miss a dose of Cialis, please take the missed dose as soon as possible but do not double up on doses or take a larger dose to make up for a missed one. Please consult with your doctor or health care provider if you have any questions about how to take Cialis.

Summary

Cialis (tadalafil) is a prescription drug used to treat erectile dysfunction and benign prostatic hyperplasia, two conditions that affect sexual function in men.

It works by relaxing the muscles in the prostate and bladder and allowing an increase of blood flow to achieve and maintain an erection or to urinate if you have an enlarged prostate.

The onset of effects from Cialis usually takes anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours and can be taken daily or as needed before sexual activity.

If you have any more questions about Cialis and how long it lasts, please talk to your doctor or health care provider for the best treatments for erectile dysfunction.

References, Studies and sources:

https://www.goodrx.com/tadalafil-cialis/how-to-take-cialis-avoid-side-effects-and-get-best-results

https://www.healthline.com/health/how-to-get-maximum-effect-from-cialis#what-to-avoid

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/cialis#for-professionals

https://www.drugs.com/tips/cialis-patient-tips

https://www.healthline.com/health/enlarged-prostate/cialis-vs-flomax-for-bph#cialis

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