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Last updated October 11, 2019. 3 minute read

What's the difference between Levitra and Viagra?

Viagra and Levitra are both very effective—approximately 75% of patients will achieve a satisfactory erection with either—and will work reliably for 6 to 8 hours.

Written by Health Guide
Reviewed by Dr. Jefferson Chen, MD

Weighing the benefits and risks of both Viagra (sildenafil) and Levitra (vardenafil) requires some basic knowledge of each. Let’s take a look and compare them based on how they can be used, the time it takes for them to work, the length of time they work, the restrictions on how they can be taken, the contraindications to their use, and their side effects.

Vitals

  • Weighing the benefits and risks of both Viagra (sildenafil) and Levitra (vardenafil) requires some basic knowledge of each.
  • Viagra and Levitra are both very effective—approximately 75% of patients will achieve a satisfactory erection with either—and will work reliably for 6 to 8 hours.
  • Though rare with either medication, Levitra is less likely than Viagra to cause visual color changes.
  • I dining is part of an evening’s plan, Levitra may be a more practical choice, as it is unaffected by food.

How quickly they take to work

Viagra and Levitra take approximately the same amount of time to work. Viagra can be effective in as little as one hour, as can Levitra, though, for some patients, these medicines can work more rapidly. In fact, some patients find that Viagra and Levitra can start to have an effect in 15 minutes. Nevertheless, each should be approached as reliably taking effect in one hour.

How long they last

Viagra and Levitra are both very effective—approximately 75% of patients will achieve a satisfactory erection with either—and will work reliably for 6 to 8 hours. Keep in mind, the effect of a medication may not be needed beyond 6 or 8 hours, and any side effects (in addition to any positive effect) they cause will fade rapidly as the medication leaves the bloodstream. That means that someone who experiences nasal congestion or flushing when they use either Viagra or Levitra may find it better to take the shorter acting medications, as opposed to Cialis (tadalafil)—which last far longer (up to 36 hours). It might be worth a bit of nasal congestion during the time when sex will occur, but there would be no reason to endure a stuffy nose once sexual intimacy had concluded.

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Side effects

The side effects of Viagra and Levitra are very similar. Though rare with either medication, Levitra is less likely than Viagra to cause visual color changes. Though uncommon, Viagra can cause men to see a bluish tint. That is because Viagra affects not only phosphodiesterase 5 but also phosphodiesterase 6, which has a role in regulating the retina. Levitra has very little impact on phosphodiesterase 6 and significantly decreases the possibility of that side effect. However, because it has been on the market longer, Viagra has a much longer safety record than other ED medications. Common side effects with either medication include upset stomach, diarrhea, flushing, nasal congestion, headache, and changes in blood pressure.

Food

Let’s consider two men. One might be able to predict when sexual activity will occur. A drug that works rapidly and leaves his system quickly thereafter would be perfect. Either medication will do. However, if dining is part of the evening’s plan, Levitra may be a more practical choice, as it is unaffected by food. One restriction on the meal exists, however. It is not necessary to take Levitra on an empty stomach, but it is best to avoid a very fatty meal. Fat interferes with its absorption if fat constitutes more than 55% of the calories consumed.

Again, it is never as simple as considering just one factor. There is a good deal of trial and error in finding the right medicine, the most effective dose, and the plan that results in the fewest side effects. Sometimes, a side effect is worth the benefit, sometimes not.

On occasion, a man will be on medications that require a dose adjustment. Even a simple antibiotic like erythromycin can alter how the body handles either medication, and the dose must be adjusted. Grapefruit juice can do so as well. Some medications lower blood pressure, and each of these medications, Viagra and Levitra, can add to that blood pressure-lowering effect and be quite dangerous. Nitrates, nitrites, and nitroglycerin can all be dangerous when combined with medications that treat ED.

The key is to get educated and share all your information with each of your healthcare providers. Only by doing so can a safe, effective, and personalized treatment plan be crafted with your goals and your safety preserved.