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Tadalafil is an ED drug better known as generic Cialis.

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Tadalafil is a little different to other ED drugs. Basically, you’ve got two types of tablet to choose from.

If you’re a one-pill-a-day kinda guy, there’s the Tadalafil daily pill.

More of an on-demand fella? Then there’s the standard or “weekend” Tadalafil (one tablet keeps you going for 36 hours).

What is Tadalafil?

You know Cialis? Same drug. Just not branded.

Also known as ‘ED’, erectile dysfunction is when you can’t get an erection hard enough for sex. It’s caused by an enzyme called PDE5. It makes vessels at the base of the penis too tight to let blood through. When blood can’t get to the tissues in the penis, it makes getting an erection pretty difficult.

Tadalafil is what you call a PDE5 inhibitor. These medicines work in the body by (you guessed it) limiting the action of PDE5. This allows blood vessels to dilate and relax, increasing blood flow to the penis.

The result is a harder and more reliable erection.

What Tadalafil dosage is right for me?

You’ve got four choices of Tadalafil dose: 2.5mg, 5mg, 10mg and 20mg.

Taking Tadalafil 10mg or Tadalafil 20mg means the drug will work when you need it to, for up to 36 hours. These doses of Tadalafil are sometimes called ‘weekend’ doses, because of their long effect.

Tadalafil 2.5mg and Tadalafil 5mg doses are taken once a day. Taking these doses daily means they stay active at all times. So you should be good to go whenever you’re in the mood.

A doctor will always look to prescribe the lowest dose that works. Most men taking the weekend option will start on 10mg, and only increase to 20mg if the 10mg doesn’t work well enough.

With the daily option, a doctor may recommend the 2.5mg dose as a precaution to see how effective it is, and suggest 5mg if the response isn’t quite enough.

Tadalafil vs Cialis: What’s the difference?

The big difference is the price. But the manufacturers and the packaging they come in will be different too. Cialis is branded Tadalafil, and is always made by Lilly. Tadalafil is made by different laboratories (not just Lilly).

When a company brings a drug to market, they normally have the exclusive right to produce that drug for a set amount of time. Lilly had this with Cialis up until 2018, when the drug became available for other companies to make as a generic (Tadalafil).

While the drugs may look different, they have the same active ingredients, doses, side effects, contraindications and uses. They function in exactly the same way.

But Tadalafil may be better if you’re on a budget. Generic treatments are cheaper than branded medications.

Page reviewed by:
Dr Daniel Atkinson
Dr Daniel Atkinson
GP Clinical Lead
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Last updated 26/07/2021


What is impotence?

Impotence (or erectile dysfunction) happens when a man can’t get an erection that lasts long enough for sex, or even at all. Sometimes it happens very occasionally, or it can happen more often and be more severe.

Erections happen because of a chemical process which occurs during sexual stimulation. The brain sends messages to blood vessels in the penis, telling them to relax and dilate. This allows blood to fill the corpus cavernosum, two muscles in the penis. When these are filled, you become erect.

Often with ED, a problem in the body means these blood vessels can’t dilate when you’re aroused. There are lots of reasons why this happens. It can be caused by bad lifestyle choices, which can lead to things like diabetes or heart disease (which damage circulation and vascular function).

But impotence can also be psychological, meaning that even if the vascular system is healthy, some men struggle with erections. It can be linked with things like anxiety, depression or general nervousness surrounding sex. This can impact on nerve signals coming out of the brain, meaning the arteries near the penis don’t get the right commands.

Who is prone to ED?

How does Tadalafil work?

Do you need a prescription to get Tadalafil?

How to buy Tadalafil online

How to take Tadalafil

Both 10mg and 20mg doses should be taken 30-60 minutes before sex. Take whole, with water. These doses can stay active for up to 36 hours. Never use Tadalafil 10mg or 20mg twice in any one 24 hour period (it’s better to wait out the whole 36 hour period before taking a second pill).

Take according to the instructions given by your doctor. Never take more than they recommend.

If you develop any serious side effects, go to your nearest hospital as soon as possible. This includes: an erection that stays hard for four hours or more; loss of vision or hearing; an allergic reaction; or heart or chest pain.

How to take Tadalafil Daily

Choosing the right dose of Tadalafil

Tadalafil with food or drink

How effective is Tadalafil?

What are the most common Tadalafil side effects?

Some men may experience side effects from taking Tadalafil. Always read the instructions fully before taking ED medication. 

More common Tadalafil side effects include headaches, feeling sick, redness or flushing, indigestion, stuffy nose or aches in the muscles.

What should I do if I get side effects?

When should I see a doctor?

Is there any difference between Tadalafil and Cialis?

They’re manufactured by different companies, so the boxes the drugs come in will be different, and the tablets themselves will have a different appearance too. Because they’re not made by one company in particular, generics are also cheaper than branded medicines. But there should be little if any difference in how well they work in the body. 

What should I do if Tadalafil doesn’t work?

Tadalafil vs Sildenafil: which is best?

Tadalafil safety info

Always read the patient information leaflet that comes with your medication before taking treatment.

More info

Tadalafil side effects

Common side effects (up to 1 in 10 people):
Headache, stomach ache, muscle ache, pain stemming from the arms or legs, flushing, blocked nose and indigestion problems.

Uncommon side effects (up to 1 in 100 people):
Feeling dizzy, stomach ache, feeling sick, vomiting, reflux, blurred vision, eye pain, difficulty breathing, blood in the urine, prolonged erection, pounding heartbeat sensation, increased heart rate, high blood pressure, low blood pressure, nose bleeds, ringing in the ears, swelling of the hands, feet or ankles.

Rare side effects (up to 10 in 1000 people):
Fainting, seizures, passing memory loss, swelling of the eyelids, red eyes, hearing problems, hives, penile bleeding, blood in semen and increased sweating. Heart attack and stroke have been observed in men taking Tadalafil, but most of them had a known history of heart problems.

Tadalafil warnings


[1] Capogrosso, P., Colicchia, M., Ventimiglia, E., Castagna, G., Clementi, M.C., Suardi, N., Castiglione, F., Briganti, A., Cantiello, F., Damiano, R., Montorsi, F. and Salonia, A. (2013). One Patient Out of Four with Newly Diagnosed Erectile Dysfunction Is a Young Man—Worrisome Picture from the Everyday Clinical Practice. The Journal of Sexual Medicine, [online] 10(7), pp.1833–1841.  https://www.jsm.jsexmed.org/article/S1743-6095(15)30428-8/fulltext [Accessed 22 February 2021].

[2] Coward, Robert M., Carson, Cully C. 2008. Tadalafil in the treatment of erectile dysfunction. NCBI, [online] Ther Clin Risk Manag. 2008 Dec; 4(6): 1315–1330.  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2643112/ [Accessed 22 February 2021].