How Do Tadalafil (Cialis) & Sildenafil (Viagra) Work?

February 22, 2022 2:50 pm Published by

If you watch TV at all, you’ve probably seen commercials for erectile dysfunction (ED) medication. They usually feature a couple happy about the effects of these “magic” pills, but never seem to explain how they actually work. If you’re experiencing symptoms of ED, you may be curious to know more details about these medications.

A husband and wife researching erectile dysfunction medication

What are Tadalafil and Sildenafil?

Tadalafil is the active ingredient in Cialis, and Sildenafil is the active ingredient in Viagra. Both of these medications are phosphodiesterase-5 (PDE5) inhibitors, most commonly prescribed by doctors to treat ED. They can also be used to treat other conditions, such as pulmonary hypertension and benign prostatic hyperplasia.

Read More: 7 Common Causes of Erectile Dysfunction

How Does an Erection Occur?

In order to understand how ED medications work, it is important to understand how an erection normally occurs. It’s a more complicated process than you might think! When a man becomes sexually aroused, the brain sends a signal which leads to the production and release of nitric oxide (NO) in the penis, which then activates an enzyme to produce cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cGMP). cGMP increases blood flow into the penis and decreases the blood flow out of the penis, causing engorgement of blood that results in an erection. Men who suffer from ED often don’t produce enough nitric oxide (NO), and thus not enough cGMP.

How Do Tadalafil and Sildenafil Treat ED? 

Tadalafil and Sildenafil work by inhibiting PDE5, which is an enzyme that destroys cGMP. By doing this, the amount of cGMP produced will continue to increase. The longer cGMP is allowed to accumulate, the longer an erection will last.

How to Take Tadalafil

If prescribed Tadalafil, take as directed by your doctor. Other important things to know:

  • Do not break, chew, or crush your tablet.
  • Take 30 – 60 minutes before sexual activity.
  • You can take with or without food.
  • Expect it to begin working within 30 – 60 minutes.
  • The medication will be active in your body for up to 36 hours.

How to Take Sildenafil

Like Tadalafil, it should be taken as directed by a doctor. What else you should know:

  • Do not break, chew, or crush your tablet.
  • Take 30 – 60 minutes before sexual activity.
  • Try to take on an empty stomach (high-fat meals may delay how quickly the medicine works).
  • Expect it to begin working within 30 – 60 minutes (depending on what you’ve eaten prior). 
  • The medication will be active in your body for around 4 hours.

Understanding the physiology of erections and  how PDE5 inhibitors work to treat erectile dysfunction can help you understand your options for treatment. Sildenafil and Tadalafil are both effective medications for the treatment of ED. Your doctor can help determine the best treatment option for you.

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This post was written by MediSuite

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