Medically reviewed by Katelyn Hagerty, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
Last updated 5/13/2021
Humans can’t buy love, happiness or intimacy. But, for several decades, men have been able to buy medications that help them demonstrate those things in the bedroom.
Like Viagra®, Cialis® and the other brand-name PDE5 inhibitors that have been brought to the masses to treat erectile dysfunction, Levitra® is a pill that allows you to perform sexually when you’ve experienced erectile dysfunction symptoms in the past.
ED is a complicated condition, and ED medications are comparably complicated themselves. With several on the market, there are different price points, different effective durations and even different recommended uses to be understood.
And Levitra is no different.
It goes without saying that a healthcare professional should be involved in the process of picking out new meds for you, but if you’re just learning about your options or doing some research about recommendations, we’re happy to help.
To understand how Levitra works, we should do a quick refresher on erections. Don’t worry: we’ll keep the sex ed to a minimum here.
Erections happen when your arousal causes your brain to send a signal to your penis, which translates to the dilation of blood vessels in the corpora cavernosa.
Those blood vessels dilate, blood flows in, and a muscle keeps it trapped there while you’re doing your thing.
If you have erectile dysfunction, essentially, something is going wrong in that process, and the communication-to-action chain is breaking down somewhere.
There are many, many factors that can impact your ability to get hard. A brief list might include blood pressure issues, obesity, heart disease, prescription drug and alcohol use, diabetes, high cholesterol and even psychological issues like depression, anxiety and performance fears.
According to the NIH, this is a big problem: 30 million men nationwide experience erectile dysfunction in some capacity.
The National Institutes of Health defines erectile dysfunction as a “condition in which you are unable to get or keep an erection firm enough for satisfactory sexual intercourse.”
So, whether you’re “failing to launch” or “at half mast” we’re sorry to say that you don’t get partial credit for partial erections.
There are medications on the market that keep those chemical signals from getting interrupted or overridden.
Similar to Viagra, Levitra is a phosphodiesterase type 5 (PDE5) inhibitor, a type of medication which essentially helps your body sustain those dilated blood vessels, resulting in stronger, firmer erections.
Levitra actually has a lot in common with Viagra: it’s considered an “in the moment” medication, which you take in as little as 30 minutes before you plan to get to business.
It’s also, like Viagra, good for about four hours (actually, according to the Food and Drug Administration [FDA], it’s terminal half-life is four to five hours, which means it may last a little longer than Viagra).
Levitra is an effective medication — about 70 percent of men respond to PDE5 inhibitors well, with the best results being for men with “no identifiable organic cause.”
As you might expect, vardenafil — like most other medications — poses a risk for some side effects. These are fairly in line with other PDE5 blockers like sildenafil and tadalafil.
Because of how PDE5 blockers interact with blood vessels, they can complicate the effects of blood pressure medications, which could result in sudden drops or other issues, especially if you have high blood pressure.
Commonly reported Levitra side effects include mild issues like indigestion, back pain, headache, muscle pain, flushing, stuffy nose or abnormal vision.
However, there are also more serious side effects. Stop the medication immediately and seek emergency assistance if your vision becomes abnormal.
This is probably a good time, too, to let you know that you can’t take multiple PDE5 inhibitors.
This isn’t an “infinity stones” situation—having all of them in your system would lead to some very serious issues — including death, potentially. You should also not drink alcohol to excess when on PDE5 inhibitors, as it can mess with your blood pressure.
PDE5 inhibitors can also lead to some serious complications.
Rare cases include things like hearing loss, but the big one to look out for (as you might have heard) is erections lasting more than a few hours (if this is happening to you, stop what you’re doing and seek medical attention immediately).
So how much is Levitra going to cost you? Well honestly, the numbers aren’t great.
Because Levitra is a brand-name product, it’s only available in a single 20mg option, and the price for 30 of those pills is around $1,600, likely plus some taxes depending on your location.
But generics of Levitra offer simultaneously better prices and more dosage options.
Vardenafil tablets are available between 2.5mg and 20mg, with prices for 30 pills being around the $500 range, depending on dosage, provider, location, etc.
Whether you’re just starting to learn about ED or committed to a regimen with one of the medications on the market, it’s important to understand as much as you can about the risks, side effects and basic functions of those medicines.
The first step should be talking to a healthcare professional about your problems, these medications and any complications you might be aware of.
Cards on the table: your erectile dysfunction might be caused by something you’re not aware of, and a healthcare professional can give you the right guidance and resources to address that thing, whether it be poor diet or a need for therapeutic support.
Even if you’re greenlit to take some pills, there are a few questions that might complicate your decision to take Levitra or its generic vardenafil.
For starters, it’s similar to and more expensive than Viagra. And it might not be your best bet, given that tadalafil offers a more all-encompassing medication if you like some unpredictability.
And though Viagra and Levitra are similar medications, a few things do differentiate them.
Our guide to the most common ED medications goes into more detail on how Viagra, Levitra and Cialis compare.
It’s a great resource for understanding the differences between these medications and which one may best fit your lifestyle.
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