Men in the United States have access to three main prescription drugs for erectile dysfunction (ED): Levitra, Viagra, and Cialis. Levitra, known by its technical name as “Vardenafil,” was originally marketed by a partnership between Bayer, GSK (GlaxoSmithKline), and Shering Plough (which is now part of Merck and Co.).
In many territories outside the U.S., GSK is not involved in promoting Levitra. In Italy, Vardenafil is sold under the brand names Levitra (a Bayer product there) and Vivanza (by GSK). An orally disintegrating form of Levitra is marketed in the U.S. and Canada under the trade name Staxyn. Stendra, the latest ED drug to get approved from the FDA should hit the market in early 2013.
Levitra, which comes in the form of a round, orange tablet, was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in September 2003 and was the second major ED drug (after Viagra) to be marketed. The third popular ED drug, Cialis, gained FDA approval in November 2003.
How Does Levitra Work?
Like Viagra and Cialis, the drug Levitra is known as a PDE-5 inhibitor. It increases blood flow to the penis, helping men achieve and maintain an erection strong enough for sexual activity. For an erection to occur, blood vessels supplying the penis must dilate, while those taking blood away from the penis must contract, so that the net result is blood accumulation in the penis. In other words, temporarily, more blood flows in than out.
The process that results in an erection begins with nitric oxide, which is released when the male is sexually aroused. Nitric oxide triggers a chain of events culminating in the creation of a substance called cGMP, which causes the blood flow accumulation process described above.
Levitra inhibits the formation of PDE-5, an enzyme that breaks down cGMP. Hence, it prolongs cGMP function, allowing an erection.
Side Effects and Drug Interactions
The most common side effects reported with Levitra include:
- Stuffy or runny nose
- Flushing of the face
Typically these side effects are mild and disappear within a few hours.
More serious side effects, which are rare, include:
- Sudden, serious drop in blood pressure
- Heart attack
- Sudden deterioration in vision in one or both eyes
- Painful, prolonged erection (more than 4 hours)
Though these side effects are very rare, any man who experiences them should stop taking Levitra and get medical help immediately. Most of the men who experience dangerous side effects from Levitra have preexisting conditions like heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, and certain eye conditions.
Consumption of alcohol with Levitra can increase the likelihood of certain side effects, and consuming grapefruit or grapefruit juice can lead to more severe side effects. Men should not take other ED drugs or supplements, whether prescription or herbal, while taking Levitra. Men who take the following drugs should tell their physicians before taking Levitra:
- Antifungal medications
- Drugs for high blood pressure or prostate conditions like Uroxatral, Cardura, Minipress, Hytrin, or Flomax
- Heart medication like Cardizem, Cardene, Calan, Cordarone, Quin-G, Procan, or Betapace
- HIV drugs including Reyataz, Rescriptor, Lexiva, Crixivan, Viracept, Invirase, or Norvir
Who Should Not Take Levitra?
Men who take nitrates for heart conditions should not take Levitra, and men should not take recreational drugs known as amyl nitrate or butyl nitrate (“poppers”) with Levitra. Men who take alpha blockers for prostate problems or high blood pressure should not take Levitra due to the risk of a sudden, unsafe drop in blood pressure. Men who are not healthy enough to have sexual activity should not take Levitra, and men who are allergic to any ingredients in Levitra should not take it.
Levitra Dosage Information
Levitra is available in dosages of 2.5 mg, 5 mg, 10 mg, and 20 mg. Most men begin by taking 10 mg, which is approximately equal to 50 mg of Viagra. Levitra should be taken an hour or two before sex, and men should not take more than one tablet in 24 hours unless otherwise directed by their physician.
How is Levitra Different from Viagra and Cialis?
Levitra works faster than Viagra, acting in as little as 16 minutes, compared to 30-plus minutes for Viagra. Since Levitra comes in more dosages, men are better able to tailor their dosage for increased potency and minimal side effects. While Viagra should be taken on an empty stomach, Levitra may be taken with food.
Some clinical trials have found Levitra to be longer lasting than Viagra, lasting up to 6 hours, rather than the typical 4 hour effect of Viagra. The drug Cialis is reported by many men to have a less acute, but longer-lasting effect than Levitra and Viagra. Cialis, which also goes by the nickname “the weekend pill” can last for up to 36 hours, though many men report a milder increase in potency with Cialis than with Levitra and Viagra.
Which ED Drug Should Men Choose?
In general, men who are healthy enough to take one of the three major ED drugs can safely try the others. Which ED drug to choose is mostly a matter of personal preference, assuming none of the drugs are contraindicated due to other health problems or possible drug interactions. Men tend to report that Viagra and Levitra cause a shorter, more intense response, while Cialis causes a less intense, though longer lasting, response.
Obtaining Levitra Safely and Legally
Levitra is a prescription drug, and as of mid 2012 there is not a generic version of Levitra approved in the United States. To obtain Levitra safely, men should visit their physician or work with a trusted online facilitator that employs U.S.-licensed physicians and pharmacists. AccessRx.com, a leading U.S. online facilitator, contracts with U.S.-licensed physicians and pharmacists and can assist men in obtaining genuine name-brand Levitra quickly, discreetly, and at a reasonable price. Ordering from overseas pharmacies is extremely risky due to a lack of trackable quality control. Many of the products obtained in this manner turn out to be counterfeit, ineffective, or dangerous. Only purchase Levitra from a trusted U.S.-based source.