Levitra: All the Answers to Your Questions

Published July 22nd, 2021 by Chris Riley
Fact Checked by
Jacqueline Hensler
Medically Reviewed:
Dr. Angel Rivera

Levitra is a drug that has revolutionized the treatment of erectile dysfunction, commonly known as ED or impotence. It's most well-known for its effectiveness and fast action, but there are some things to know before you start taking it. We will answer all your questions about Levitra so that you can make an informed decision on whether or not to take it.

What is Levitra?

Levitra is a brand name prescription drug that was approved for use on the market by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) in 2003. It belongs to a group of drugs called PDE5 inhibitors, which are used for treating erectile dysfunction problems. It is closely related to other erectile dysfunction drugs like sildenafil citrate, the active ingredient in Viagra, and tadalafil, the active ingredient in Cialis. We will explain how Levitra works and see if it is right for you.

What is the active ingredient in Levitra and how does it  work?

The Levitra medication contains the active ingredient vardenafil hydrochloride, which works by blocking an enzyme called phosphodiesterase type-five. This drug increases blood flow to the penis by expanding the blood vessels in the tissue and helps a man get erections when he sexually excites himself or becomes aroused during sex.

Vardenafil blocks PDE-type enzymes from deactivating cGMP inside penile tissue, an enzyme that restricts blood flow, in order to help the penis stay high longer than usual during sexual arousal. It can also help keep an erection harder for much longer periods of time. The way Levitra works is by helping to maintain an erection by supplying more blood to the penis, the physiological way an erection occurs. This extra blood flow allows you to become erect easier and stay erect longer.

Who can take Levitra?

Levitra is available through prescription only and can be prescribed by a doctor if you need help with erectile dysfunction, or other conditions affected by ED like diabetes, high blood pressure, benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH). It is also only recommended for men over the age of 18 years old.

How should I take Levitra?

Levitra should be taken according to the instructions listed on your prescription by your doctor or pharmacist. The tablets can be taken with or without food and you should not exceed more than one dose during a 24-hour period. This medicine should be taken approximately 30 minutes to one hour before sexual activity. An erection will not occur just by taking Levitra as sexual stimulation is needed to achieve an erection.

Who should not take Levitra?

As with most medications, there are people with certain medical conditions who should not take this drug such as if you are taking nitrates for chest or heart problems.

Women should not take this medication at all as it has not been tested or approved for use by women. The effects on breastfeeding or pregnant women have also not been tested.

Men taking nitrates or alpha-blockers for chest pain treatment should not take Levitra. Men using HIV medications such as ritonavir and saquinavir should not take Levitra. For safety reasons Levitra is also contraindicated, meaning it should not be used by, patients suffering from certain heart diseases including but not limited to:

  • Congenital heart defects of the atrioventricular node type II
  • Long QT syndrome, a heart rhythm condition 
  • Sinoatrial block type I or type III that has been symptomatic within 48 hours before

It should also be noted here that Levitra also interacts with recreational drugs that also have nitrates, such as the party drug known as "poppers." Taking Levitra with these recreational or prescription nitrates can cause very low blood pressure which can be problematic.

Anyone who has been told by their physician to not have sex for health reasons should not take Levitra either.

As with any new medication, please consult your doctor or pharmacist before starting it and let them know all medications you are currently taking or plan to take in the future.

What is the dosage of Levitra?

Levitra typically comes in two doses, Levitra 10 mg and Levitra 20 mg (the 20 mg can be taken with two 10 mg pills). You can also take Levitra in as little as 5 mg. If you are not sure which dose is right for you, speak with your doctor or pharmacist before taking any Levitra. It's important to take Levitra at least 25 to 60 minutes before sexual activity, preferably an hour beforehand. When used as needed, which should not be more than one dose per day, there is no need to use erectile dysfunction drugs like Viagra because they can cause side effects such as headaches and facial flushing that make sex less enjoyable, whereas Levitra does not have this problem. It should be noted that sexual stimulation is necessary for the treatment to work.

What are the possible side effects of taking Levitra?

The most common side effect that is experienced is nausea. Most people do not experience any side effects when taking Levitra, but some men may have these problems:

  • Nausea 
  • Abdominal pain 
  • Back pain
  • Photosensitivity, or sensitivity to light
  • Abnormal vision
  • Eye pain
  • Vision loss (this is usually caused by pulmonary hypertension, also called high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, high cholesterol, or certain preexisting conditions in the eye) 
  • Facial edema, also known as facial swelling
  • Hypotension, which is low blood pressure
  • Priapism, or a prolonged erection lasting more than four hours which can damage the penis 

It's important to keep in mind that many other drugs such as Viagra and Cialis also cause side effects like this so Levitra should not be taken with other erectile dysfunction medications. Finally, if you are experiencing pain during sex, Levitra might not be for you because it does require a man to have some type of sexual stimulation in order to work.

Grapefruit juice and alcohol should be avoided while taking this medication. Interactions with this medication have been known to occur while drinking grapefruit juice and alcohol may also exacerbate other side effects.

If you experience any of these problems please seek medical attention immediately.

Where can I get Levitra?

The only place that Levitra is available is through a prescription from a doctor. There are no over-the-counter medications for Levitra. Vardenafil, the active ingredient in Levitra, does come in generic form and there are other brand names that also have vardenafil as an active ingredient, such as Staxyn and Vivanza. If you are experiencing erectile dysfunction please talk to your doctor about possible solutions. Although Levitra is a great option, it is not the only option for treating these symptoms and you and your physician can determine the best course of action for you.


Levitra is a drug that is used for erectile dysfunction by men over the age of 18. Levitra can be taken when needed, usually once per day and up to one dose in a 24-hour period. A dose consists of 10 mg or 20 mg. If you are taking Levitra, it is imperative that you not take more than one dose in a 24-hour period. This drug is not for everyone, such as people taking nitrates for chest or heart pain, and side effects may occur while taking this medication. Please consult your physician and tell your doctor about any other prescription medications to see if Levitra is right for you.


MedlinePlus – Vardenafi