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Cialis vs Tadalafil: What's The Difference

There are a number of drugs on the market for what ails your sex life. Erectile dysfunction has plenty of solutions, many of which are safe and proven effective to treat certain elements of the problem. 

Cialis® and tadalafil are both part of this list. 

If you’re reading this, you’ve probably seen both names out there on the Internet. 

Maybe a doctor has used them both to talk to you about your treatment options for erectile dysfunction. 

So what’s the difference?

It’s something you should definitely know before taking either medication. 

But to adequately explain it, we need to touch on a couple of other topics, first. Let’s start with your penis.

Erections and Erectile Dysfunction

Your penis is there for a couple of reasons, but the one you’re probably the most excited about is for the purpose of erections. 

Erections are the result of two things: increased blood flow to the penis, and decreased/halted blood flow out of the penis. 

Here’s how it works: your brain sends signals to your penis that you’re becoming aroused, which starts the process of increasing the flow of blood into two long champers called the corpora cavernosa. 

The blood becomes trapped there by a muscle closing off the exit, which causes it to fill like a balloon, thus resulting in your erection. 

Boom. Magic, right?

So, as you might suspect (or already know) erectile dysfunction is when something in that process isn’t functioning the way it’s supposed to.

Many factors can cause ED. Common ones include heart disease, diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, obesity, depression, anxiety, illicit drug use, excessive alcohol use and performance anxiety.

An estimated 30 million to 50 million men nationwide have some degree of erectile dysfunction, according to the National Institutes of Health. 

ED is a potentially huge problem for men who enjoy intimacy. Luckily, there are treatments like Cialis and tadalafil. 

The Difference Between Cialis and Tadalafil

Put simply, the difference between Cialis and tadalafil is branding. Cialis is the brand name version of the generic tadalafil. All Cialis is tadalafil, but not all tadalafil is Cialis. 

Tadalafil (and Cialis) is an effective treatment for erectile dysfunction, with a longer effective time from dose to dose than medications like Viagra®. 

That’s because tadalafil can be taken as needed or as a daily medication. In fact, it was the first drug approved for daily ED treatment.

You may be wondering, “What is tadalafil?” So, let’s dig into the science.

Tadalafil is what’s called a phosphodiesterase type 5 (PDE5) inhibitor, which is a class of medication that increases blood flow to the tissues of your penis by inhibiting the production of PDE5 enzymes, which can break down the chemical compound that keeps you hard. 

Tadalafil is just one of several PDE5 inhibitors, but its longer effective time makes it unique. 

Tadalafil, unlike Viagra (or any other PDE5 inhibitor), can be effective for up to 36 hours according to the National Library of Medicine — and all that from just a single dose.

Tadalafil Side Effects

Tadalafil has some potentially serious side effects to be aware of. 

Things like blurred vision, flushing, diarrhea, indigestion, nausea, cough, stomach pain, dizziness, ringing in the ears, chest pain, hives or rash, difficulty breathing or swallowing, headaches, or blistering or swelling of the face have all been reported, and if you experience any of these you should talk to a healthcare professional. 

The side effects of Cialis can be more serious — some people may lose their vision in rare instances (if you’re experiencing this, seek medical care immediately).

Most important, though, is the blood pressure issue. Because these medications can affect your blood pressure, a healthcare professional should know of any other medications you may be taking before prescribing tadalafil or Cialis before.  

How You Take Tadalafil Matters

Tadalafil is a prescription medication, which means specific requirements for when and how you’re allowed to take the medication. 

According to the FDA, there are two ways to take tadalafil: as a daily medication, or on an as-needed basis. 

As-needed doses are typically 10mg or 20mg, whereas a daily dose will typically be between 2.5mg and 5mg. 

You should not take the larger, as-needed doses every day. These doses are designed for infrequent use, to put a substantial portion of the active ingredient into your system. 

Chronically elevated levels could cause some serious side effects, without any benefits.

Tadalafil and You

Is tadalafil the right solution for your ED issues? Maybe. 

There are other factors to consider beyond drug interactions and side effects before committing to a medication like tadalafil.

The most obvious: whether your ED is physical, or psychological. 

Tadalafil and other ED medications do not arouse you — they just keep the equipment working properly for when you get aroused. 

What that means is, if your problem is in your head, there’s not a lot a pill is going to do — not this pill, anyway. 

Performance anxiety, low self esteem, insecurity and depression can all prevent you from enjoying yourself in intimate moments.

Because of this and many other factors, it’s important to talk to a healthcare professional about your issues before jumping on the medication bandwagon. 

That means no over-the-internet pills or crazy gas station ED solutions without talking to someone in a white coat.

They’ll be able to do things for you that you cannot do on your own, including finding the best prescriptions for your individual ED issues, or helping to pinpoint other causes of ED that might be the culprits in your case. 

And if your problem is in your mind, they’ll be able to help with that too, potentially by giving you a referral for therapy or other treatments.

So make the call — start there.

If you’re just learning about ED, we have resources to help you determine if tadalafil is right for you. 

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.