Since Viagra was approved by the FDA in 1998, the number of men diagnosed with erectile dysfunction in the United States has increased by 250 percent. So there is no wonder why two new drugs for the condition have recently hit the market. The January issue of Harvard Health Letter examines Levitra and Cialis and assesses how these drugs measure up against the groundbreaking Viagra. Levitra offers a much smaller dose, 10 milligrams (mg), compared with the usual starting dose of 50 mg for Viagra. Levitra may also work faster- 25-30 minutes compared with an hour for Viagra. Cialis, on the other hand, stays active in the body much longer than the other two drugs 24-36 hours-compared to 4-5 hours for Viagra and Levitra.
The January Harvard Health Letter also examines the three drugs' similarities:
- They all work by relaxing smooth muscle cells, thereby widening blood vessels.
- None of the drugs automatically produce an erection. Rather, they make an erection possible with sexual arousal.
- Resulting side effects are comparable and may include headaches, heartburn, and flushing.
- The FDA advises against mixing these drugs with alpha blockers and nitrate medications.
Even with the introduction of these two new drugs, the decision to medicate erectile dysfunction should be carefully considered with a physician and will vary among male patients.