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Does Cialis® Expire: Shelf Life of Cialis Explained

Mary Lucas, RN

Medically reviewed by Mary Lucas RN

Written by Our Editorial Team

Last updated 9/29/2021

Cialis®, which contains the active ingredient tadalafil, is one of the most popular medications for the treatment of erectile dysfunction (ED).

Compared to other ED medications, Cialis lasts long. On average, a 20mg dose of Cialis or generic tadalafil can treat erectile dysfunction for up to 36 hours, compared to four to five hours for most ED medications.

Like other medications, Cialis can break down over time and expire. Below, we’ve covered how long it takes for Cialis to expire, as well as the steps that you can take to safely store Cialis and other ED medications

What Is Cialis?

Cialis is a prescription medication that’s used to treat erectile dysfunction and help men of all ages engage in sexual activity when they want it. 

It contains the active ingredient tadalafil and is sold as a tablet to take by mouth.

Like other ED medications, Cialis belongs to a class of drugs called PDE5 inhibitors. It works by increasing blood flow to the blood vessels in your penis, making it easier for you to get and sustain an erection suitable for sexual activity. 

Cialis is one of several medications used in the treatment for erectile dysfunction. Other popular medications used to treat ED include Viagra® (which contains the ingredient sildenafil), Levitra® (vardenafil) and Stendra® (avanafil). 

Because it comes in tablet form, Cialis is convenient to use before sexual activity. It takes around one hour to start working, with a single tablet capable of providing relief from erectile dysfunction for up to 36 hours at a time.

It’s important to note that like other PDE5 inhibitors, Cialis is only effective if you experience sexual stimulation. 

How Long Does Cialis Take to Expire?

Cialis usually expires about two years after its time of manufacturing. This is similar to the expiry times of other widely-used ED medications.

The FDA requires that all prescription and over-the-counter medications have an expiration date printed on their packaging. 

You can usually find the expiration date on the medication’s label. It may begin with the letters “EXP” or something similar.

If you find Cialis or other medication that’s been left in its packaging unused for several months, make sure to check the expiration date before using it.

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Why You Shouldn’t Use Expired Cialis

We get it — sexual activity and maintaining a healthy and active sex life is important. However, using expired medication is never recommended, and Cialis is no exception. The FDA recommends against using expired over-the-counter or prescription drugs for several reasons:

  • They may be less effective. Over time, the chemicals in medication may break down and become less effective. This means that you may not notice the same effects when you use the medication.

  • Some expired medications can be risky. Some medications become less safe to use after they expire. For example, certain medications can be affected by bacterial growth that may affect your health if ingested.

You may be more at risk of experiencing side effects if you take Cialis or generic tadalafil after it expires. Common side effects of Cialis include:

  • Headache

  • Dyspepsia (indigestion)

  • Back pain

  • Myalgia (muscle pain)

  • Nasal congestion

  • Flushing

If you experience severe or persistent side effects after taking expired Cialis, you should contact your healthcare provider for advice and assistance. 

How to Store Cialis Properly

It’s important to store Cialis and other prescription medication properly. Storing medication in the right type of environment will prevent it from breaking down and becoming less effective, ensuring it works when you need it. 

Use the following instructions to store Cialis and other prescription medications properly:

  • Store Cialis in a cool, dry place. Good places to store Cialis include your bedside table or dresser drawer, inside your closet, on a shelf or in a kitchen cabinet that’s far from any heat or water sources.Avoid storing your medication in a location with lots of natural light, heat, air or moisture, as this may damage your medication.

  • Don’t store Cialis in the bathroom. Heat and moisture, both of which are common in a bathroom setting, can damage medication and cause it to go bad faster. Make sure not to store Cialis or other medication in your bathroom cabinet or other damp places.

  • Keep Cialis out of reach of children. Cialis and other ED medications are not suitable for children. If you live in a house with children, store Cialis or any other medication out of their sight, ideally in a locked cabinet or medicine box.

  • Keep Cialis inside its original container. Avoid storing Cialis inside a pill organizer or other type of dispenser. Instead, keep it inside its original container and take each Cialis tablet out as needed.

How to Dispose of Expired Cialis

If you’ve found expired Cialis, generic tadalafil or other ED medications in your home, it’s better to dispose of it than to use it after its expiration date. 

Cialis is not on the FDA’s flush list, meaning it can be disposed of in the trash and doesn’t need to be flushed down the toilet. 

You can dispose of Cialis and other expired ED medications by taking them to a drug take back location. This page from the FDA explains how you can find nearby drug take back locations in your area.

If no drug take back location is available, you can dispose of expired Cialis or other medication in your home by following these steps:

  • Mix the medication with an unappealing substance. This prevents other people from accessing the medication. You can mix the unused tablets or capsules with dirt, cat litter or coffee grounds. Make sure not to mix the medication whole, but rather with things like dirt, spent coffee grounds or even cat litter. If they’re tablets or capsules, don’t crush them.

  • Store the mixture in a sealed container. Place the mix of medication and dirt, cat litter or coffee grounds into a sealed plastic bag or other secure container.

  • Dispose of the container in your household trash. From here, dispose of the trash as normal. Make sure to scratch out your name and other information from the label before disposing of your medication’s packaging.

Some pharmacies offer expired medicine drop-off boxes and other programs for you to dispose of medication safely. You can contact your local pharmacy to find out if they may be able to help you dispose of expired Cialis. 

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Does Cialis Expire?

Like other medications, Cialis can expire. To avoid ending up with Calis pills that have expired, make a note of its expiry date and try to use each pack before it expires. 

If you have expired Cialis, you can get rid of it safely by following the disposal instructions above. 

We offer Cialis, Viagra and other ED medications online, following a consultation with a licensed healthcare provider who will determine if a prescription is appropriate. 

Worried about ED? You can learn more about treating erectile dysfunction using Cialis and other medications in our guide to the most common ED treatments and drugs

5 Sources

Hims & Hers has strict sourcing guidelines to ensure our content is accurate and current. We rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We strive to use primary sources and refrain from using tertiary references.

  1. CIALIS (tadalafil) tablets, for oral use. (2018, February). Retrieved from https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2018/021368s030lbl.pdf
  2. Tadalafil. (2016, April 15). Retrieved from https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a604008.html
  3. Don’t Be Tempted to Use Expired Medicines. (2021, February 8). Retrieved from https://www.fda.gov/drugs/special-features/dont-be-tempted-use-expired-medicines
  4. Storing your medicines. (2020, January 23). Retrieved from https://medlineplus.gov/ency/patientinstructions/000534.htm
  5. Drug Disposal: Drug Take Back Locations. (2020, October 15). Retrieved from https://www.fda.gov/drugs/disposal-unused-medicines-what-you-should-know/drug-disposal-drug-take-back-locations |Drug Disposal: Dispose "Non-Flush List" Medicine in Trash. (2018, December 20). Retrieved from https://www.fda.gov/drugs/disposal-unused-medicines-what-you-should-know/drug-disposal-dispose-non-flush-list-medicine-trash
What’s next?

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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