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Cialis and Alcohol: Is it Safe?

Katelyn Hagerty FNP

Medically reviewed by Kristin Hall, FNP

Written by Our Editorial Team

Last updated 2/12/2021

Erectile dysfunction (ED) affects about 30 million men in the United States and, unfortunately, your risk may increase with age

Though you may not be able to circumvent all of the factors that contribute to ED, there are ways to treat the condition. CialisⓇ (tadalafil) is a prescription medication approved by the U.S. 

Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of erectile dysfunction and it may improve your ability to achieve and maintain an erection. 

Cialis is one of the most widely used ED treatments on the market and clinical trials show that, at a dose of 20mg, it helps more than 80 percent of men achieve satisfactory erections. 

When used properly, Cialis may help you reclaim your desired level of sexual satisfaction. Like any supplement or prescription medication, however, it comes with a risk for side effects and you should be careful about mixing it with alcohol and other substances. 

Below, we’ve taken a closer look at the erectile dysfunction drug Cialis and how to take it safely. We’ll determine whether you drink alcohol while using Cialis and what to do if you experience adverse effects from taking the drug. 

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How Does Cialis Work? 

As you already know, Cialis is a prescription medication designed to treat erectile dysfunction. 

Tadalafil is the active ingredient and it falls into the same class of drugs as other erectile dysfunction medications like ViagraⓇ (sildenafil) and LevitraⓇ (vardenafil):  PDE5 inhibitors. PDE5 inhibitors like Cialis are the first line of treatment for erectile dysfunction. 

Though the name PDE5 inhibitor may sound a bit complicated, these drugs actually do something very simple to help you achieve an erection: they help relax the muscles in the penis and boost blood flow to the area to facilitate an erection. 

To dig a little deeper, ED drugs like Cialis work by blocking the effects of an enzyme known as cGMP-specific phosphodiesterase type 5 or PDE5. This enzyme plays a role in regulating blood flow throughout the body, including blood flow to the erectile tissues in the penis. By blocking PDE5, Cialis and other ED medications enable blood to flow more easily into the penis when you become sexually aroused. As a result, it becomes easier to achieve and maintain an erection. 

Though Cialis works in the same way as other ED medications, its effects last much longer. Viagra works for around four hours at a time and Levitra lasts just a little longer, up to six hours. Cialis, on the other hand, keeps working for up to 36 hours at a time. 

Potential Risks and Side Effects of Cialis

Generally speaking, Cialis is safe when taken as directed. That being the case, any drug comes with a risk for side effects. You should also be mindful of any other drugs or substances you’re taking while on Cialis as the two might interact poorly. 

According to the FDA, the most common adverse reactions to Cialis are headache, back pain, congestion, flushing, and indigestion. 

Talk to your healthcare provider before taking Cialis. While it’s generally considered safe, you can’t take it if you’re on certain other medications, namely nitrates or certain blood pressure medications. 

You should also avoid taking Cialis if you have low blood pressure, uncontrolled high blood pressure, or a history of stroke or heart attack. 

Can You Drink Alcohol with Cialis? 

Remember, Cialis is a PDE5 inhibitor designed to help increase blood flow. At intoxicating levels, alcohol acts as a vasodilator as well, so the combination of the two could lead to a condition called orthostatic hypotension. 

Orthostatic hypotension results from an inadequate physiologic response to postural changes in blood pressure. 

Clinically, it’s defined as a drop in systolic blood pressure by 20 mmHg or diastolic blood pressure by 10 mmHg that occurs within three minutes of standing. 

In other words, orthostatic hypotension is a drop in blood pressure that happens when you rise from standing or lying down. Common symptoms include dizziness, lightheadedness, blurred vision, nausea, and headache.

To put it plainly, drinking alcohol while taking Cialis may  lower your blood pressure. Though a minor temporary decrease in blood pressure may not have any lasting effects on your health, it could put you at risk for a fall. 

If you pair Cialis with excessive alcohol consumption, the drop in blood pressure could become dangerous, not to mention the potential effects of long-term heavy alcohol consumption. On top of other health risks, heavy drinking can further increase your risk for erectile dysfunction. 

You should always consume alcohol safely and in moderation, but if you’re taking Cialis for erectile dysfunction you may want to moderate your intake even further. 

The Takeaway 

Having a beer or a glass of wine is unlikely to affect your health or your erection, but drinking excessively while on Cialis may create a recipe for certain issues. 

The vasodilative effects of Cialis and alcohol could lead to headache, dizziness, or fainting related to hypotension. 

Keep in mind that, compared to other ED drugs, Cialis may stay in your system longer (as long as 36 hours). If you choose to drink, you may want to extend the time between drinking and taking Cialis. 

If you experience side effects while taking Cialis, speak to your healthcare professional about changing your dose or trying another medication. 

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This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.

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