What’s the difference between Levitra and sildenafil?

While both drugs work similarly

Levitra is less likely to be effected by food

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Disclaimer: This information isn’t a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should never rely upon this article for specific medical advice. If you have any questions or concerns, please talk to your doctor.

Weighing the benefits and risks of both sildenafil (generic Viagra) 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.

Yet, one issue is rarely the sole factor men consider when taking a medication for erectile dysfunction. It is the interplay between a man’s social circumstances (and that of their partner), his need for a rapid onset of medication activity versus a prolonged duration of action, the individual reaction to the drug in terms of side effects, a person’s prior medical history, the other medications they take, and the very personal definition of what it means to achieve an erection satisfactory for sexual activity.

How quickly they take to work 

Sildenafil and Levitra (vardenafil) take approximately the same amount of time to work. Sildenafil can be effective in as little as 1 hour as can Vardenafil (Levitra), though for some patients, these medicines can work more rapidly. In fact, some patients find that sildenafil and Levitra (vardenafil) can start to have an effect in 15 minutes. Nevertheless, each should be approached as reliably taking effect in 1 hour.

How long they last 

Sildenafil and Levitra (vardenafil) are both very effective–approximately 75% of patients will achieve a satisfactory erection with either–and will work reliably for 6-8 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 sildenafil or Levitra (vardenafil) may find better to take the shorter acting medications, as opposed to Cialis–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.

Side effects

The side effects of sildenafil and Levitra (vardenafil) are very similar. Though rare with either medication,  Levitra (vardenafil) is less likely than sildenafil to cause visual color changes. Though uncommon, sildenafil can cause men to see a bluish tint. That is because sildenafil 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, sildenafil 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.


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, Vardenafil (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, sildenafil or 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 erectile dysfunction.

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.

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