Medically reviewed by Katelyn Hagerty, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
Last updated 4/9/2021
Drug names are often hard to pronounce and difficult to remember what they’re for. Many sound like the drug-maker threw together letters at random and went with whatever first landed on the page.
But these funny names hide effective medical treatments for all kinds of diseases and conditions.
Tadalafil, sold under the brand name Cialis®, is one such drug. And while a healthcare provider can clue you into all of the details of its uses, here is a brief primer:
Tadalafil is a type of drug known as a phosphodiesterase 5 (PDE5) inhibitor. It was initially approved for use under the brand name Cialis in 2003 by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
These drugs block PDE5, an enzyme in the smooth muscle cells of the penis, allowing blood flow into the penis and an erection to happen, when used in the treatment of ED.
These drugs changed how we look at erectile dysfunction, and became the first-line defense for treating erectile dysfunction.
When used in the treatment of erectile dysfunction, tadalafil can be taken once-daily or as-needed.
This makes it different from other PDE5 inhibitors that are only taken as-needed, before sexual activity.
Tadalafil stays in the body longer, allowing you to take it consistently everyday and be ready when the mood strikes.
When taken as-needed, tadalafil is generally started at a dose of 10mg, and either decreased or increased from there to find the sweet spot where it is effective upon sexual stimulation, with minimal side effects.
Your healthcare provider may or may not have to make such a dosage adjustment. It is generally effective for up to 36 hours.
When taken once-daily, tadalafil is typically prescribed at 2.5mg tablets, a lower dose, though it may be increased to a 5mg tablet, depending on your results.
It should be taken at about the same time of day.
There are a few ways to measure success with the use of an erectile dysfunction drug, but asking the men who take it or have taken it is a telling one.
In the use of a self-administered questionnaire about erectile function, tadalafil was found to have a 60 percent to 90 percent success rate at intercourse in 50 percent to 65 percent of patients, regardless of how severe their ED was at the beginning of treatment.
A study that looked at 11 analyses involving 2102 men found that 71 percent of men taking a 10mg dosage and 84 percent of those taking a 20mg dose reported improved erection quality.
Further, the men had increased successful attempts at sexual intercourse.
Numerous other bodies of research have affirmed such positive findings, and support the use of tadalafil in improving men’s sexual health and satisfaction.
When taken for the treatment of BPH, tadalafil is taken once daily at 5mg dosages.
BPH is an enlarged prostate, a common condition among aging men. According to the American Urological Association, about half of men between ages 51 and 60 have BPH, and as many as 90 percent of those over age 80 have it.
BPH can lead to urination problems such as weak flow, urgent urination, feeling like your bladder is full, difficulty emptying your bladder, and straining, among others.
Ultimately, it can worsen with age and result in bladder and kidney damage.
Research indicates tadalafil can improve symptoms of BPH and quality of life in the men who suffer with it.
Regardless of your reasons for taking tadalafil, you should be aware of the potential for adverse effects. As with any other prescription drug, there is a risk of side effects.
According to the FDA, the most common side effects of tadalafil include headache, fatigue, back pain, nasal congestion (stuffy nose), limb pain (pain in extremity), flushing and muscle pain.
More serious side effects are possible, and you should seek medical attention immediately if you feel dizzy or faint. This could indicate a significant and sudden decrease in blood pressure.
You should also contact a healthcare professional if you have any changes in vision, loss of hearing, symptoms of an allergic reaction, or chest pain.
It can react negatively with alcohol, alpha blockers, nitrates, and antihypertensives, so it’s important you tell your prescribing physician about all of the medications you’re taking before you begin a tadalafil regimen to avoid potentially dangerous reactions and unwanted side effects.
Tadalafil (Cialis) is a PDE5 inhibitor approved for use by the FDA for the treatment of two conditions: erectile dysfunction and benign prostatic hyperplasia.
It can be taken once daily or as needed, when taken as an ED treatment. Research indicates it is an effective treatment option.
As with all prescription drugs, there are potential side effects with tadalafil.
But it is one of the more popular treatments for erectile dysfunction, in part because of the dosing options that differentiate it from other choices in the PDE5 inhibitor class of drugs.
Talk with a health care provider if you have questions about whether this is a good treatment option for you.