Levitra: What is it? How Does it Work? What are the Side Effects?

levitra articleLevitra, also known by the generic name Wardenafil HCI, Is used primarily to treat erectile dysfunction. Levitra increases blood flow to the penis, to help a man get and maintain an erection, when sexually stimulated. As with Cialis and Viagra, Levitra doesn’t cure erectile dysfunction. Although it doesn’t cure impotence, Levitra does allow many men with ED to get and maintain an erection, allowing them to enjoy a full sexual relationship with their partner.

Scroll down to learn more about Cialis. What is Cialis? How does it work? How do I use Cialis? What are the side effects of Cialis? And much more!

Written by Kimberly Wylie


  • Levitra was originally co-marketed by Bayer, GSK and Shering Plough.
  • Levitra is a PDE5-inhibitor that increases blood flow to the penis and is only available by prescription.
  • Levitra does not cure erectile dysfunction, but rather treats the symptom — the inability to get and/or maintain an erection.
  • Levitra does not cause an erection. Sexual stimulation of some sort is still needed.
  • There are numerous, some potentially fatal, side effects you should be aware of before taking Levitra.
  • Alternatives to Levitra include natural supplements, penis exercises, ED lubricants, and other prescription erectile dysfunction medications.


bayer levitraVardenafil was originally co-marketed by three pharmaceutical companies – Bayer, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), and Shering Plough (now owned by Merck and Co).  GSK gave many of the co-promotion rights outside the US. In Italy, two brands of Vardenafil are marketed – Levitra, by Bayer, and Vivanza, by GSK.

Staxyn, an orally-disintegrating form of Vardenafil, is also gaining approval in many countries, including the US and Canada.


levitraLevitra increases blood flow to the penis, which helps you get and maintain an erection. Levitra’s active ingredient works on the chain of reactions within the penis during arousal, when the corpus cavernosa in the your penis fills with blood, which creates an erection, an temporarily cures erectile dysfunction..  Please take note of that last part.

Levitra does NOT cause you to have an erection.
There must be some form of sexual stimulation present, to get an erection.


Although all three – Levitra, Cialis and Viagra – are PDE5 inhibitors, and help increase blood flow to the penis, there are important differences between each of these prescription erectile dysfunction treatments.
levitra cialis viagra 2

  • Levitra works slightly longer than Viagra. On average, Levitra works for approximately 5 hours, where Viagra’s effects typically last about 4 hours.
  • Cialis’s effects last up to 36 hours.
  • Levitra and Viagra both take about 30 minutes to begin working.
  • In contrast, Cialis works within 15 minutes.
  • Cialis can be taken as a once-daily erectile dysfunction treatment, to allow for more spontaneous sex.


Using Levitra is simple.

  • levitraVisit Your Doctor – Before taking any prescription erectile dysfunction medication, visit your doctor. See our article, Need an Erectile Dysfunction Cure? Never Suffer from Impotence Again, for more details on ED. Erectile dysfunction could be a symptom of a more serious, underlying medical condition. Additionally, you may have other health concerns that could negatively interact with the taking of Levitra.
  • Read the Literature Provided with Your Prescription – Your doctor and your pharmacist should review the details of taking Levitra with you; however, the ultimate responsibility is yours. For this reason, be sure to read all of the materials provided with your prescription. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to talk to your doctor or pharmacist.*
  • Take as Directed – Always follow your doctor’s instructions when taking Levitra. Levitra can be taken with or without food, usually about 1 hour before you plan to have sex.

Levitra Usage Notes

There are some important things to note when taking Levitra.

  • levitraLevitra shouldn’t be taken more than once per day, with doses taken at least 24 hours apart.
  • Make sure to tell your doctor about any allergies you may have. Even though you may not be allergic to vardenafil, there may be inactive ingredients in the medication that could cause an allergic reaction.
  • Before taking Levitra, be sure to let your doctor know about all of your medical conditions, especially:
    • Heart problems (including: history of heart attack, irregular heartbeats, chest pains, etc.),
    • Stroke within the past 6 months,
    • Kidney disease (or on dialysis),
    • Liver disease,
    • High or low blood pressure,
    • Dehydration,
    • Penis conditions (including: angulation, Peyronie’s disease, fibrosis),
    • History of priapism (painful/prolonged erections),
    • Conditions associated with priapism, including: sickle cell anemia, leukemia, or multiple myeloma,
    • Eye problems (pigmentosa, NAION, retinitis, sudden decreased vision),
    • Bleeding disorders, and/or
    • Active stomach ulcers.
  • Levitra may cause QT prolongation. This may cause a serious and sometimes fatal fast/irregular heartbeat. Symptoms also include severe dizziness and fainting. If you experience these symptoms, be sure to seek medical help immediately.


There are several potential side effects with the use of Levitra. Some are minor inconveniences, while others may be life-threatening. Tell your doctor about all side effects you experience. If a side effect worries you, seek medical attention right away. The most common side effects include:
levitra headache

  • Headache,
  • Flushing,
  • Stuffy and/or runny nose,
  • Dizziness,
  • Vision changes (light sensitivity, blurry vision, trouble telling blue and green apart),

Potentially Life Threatening Side Effects for Levitra

The following side effects are more serious and require you to stop taking Levitra and seek medical attention IMMEDIATELY. This is not a comprehensive list. If you experience any side effects that concern you, seek medical attention right away:

  • levitra chest painSevere dizziness, fainting, chest pain, jaw pain, left arm pain, or nausea.
  • Sudden decreased vision in one or both of your eyes (NAION).
  • Sudden decrease in hearing, sometimes occurring with ringing in the ears.
  • Fast or irregular heartbeat.
  • Seizures.
  • Temporary memory loss.
  • Painful or prolonged erection lasting 4 or more hours.
  • A serious allergic reaction, especially with face, tongue, or throat swelling, severe dizziness, and/or trouble breathing.


  • alcohol levitraLow levels of magnesium or potassium may increase your chances of QT prolongation. Drugs such as diuretics or conditions like severe sweating, diarrhea or vomiting should be brought to your doctor’s attention before taking Levitra for your erectile dysfunction.
  • Do not drive, use machinery or perform activities that require mental alertness and/or clear vision, while using Levitra.
  • Limit your alcoholic beverages when taking Levitra.
  • Tell your doctor or dentist that you take Levitra, before having surgery.
  • Older patients are more susceptible to Levitra’s side effects, especially QT prolongation.


Like other PDE5 inhibitors, taking Levitra more than once a day can lead to overdosing. Your unique physiological factors may affect how long Levitra remains in your system. If you are concerned about a potential overdose, seek medical attention right away. Overdosing with Levitra can result in a life-threatening situation. Do not underestimate the seriousness of a Levitra overdose.


Levitra will not cure your erectile dysfunction. It only treats the primary symptom of ED — the inability to get and/or maintain an erection. For this reason, alternative treatments may actually be more effective in treating the underlying problem that is the cause of your erectile dysfunction.

  1. bathmateHealthier Lifestyle – Losing weight, eating healthier, and getting regular exercise are all things you can do to improve your cardiovascular health, which, in turn, can help improve blood flow to your penis – key for hard and lasting erections.
  1. Penis Exercises that Focus on Penile Tissues – Penis exercises aren’t just for penis enlargement, they also can help you have stronger and harder erections, thanks to increased blood flow to the penis. Jelqing and penis stretches are two of the best erectile dysfunction exercises. Read more about these ED exercises in our articles – What is Jelqing? and Penis Stretching.
  1. Pelvic Floor Muscle Exercises – Your pelvic floor muscles are key to good sexual health. For this reason, everyone should be doing Kegels! (And, yes, men can Kegel too!) Check out our article:  How to do Kegel Exercises for Men. Of course, don’t over do it. Overtraining your pelvic floor muscles can lead to an imbalance and exacerbate your ED.
  1. Stress Reduction – ED is often caused by stress. This stress may be in your personal and/or professional life. Take time to relax and do things you enjoy. Regular exercise can also help reduce stress hormones in the body.
  1. ED Lubricants – Vasodilator lubricants (erectile dysfunction lubricants) were developed to help encourage blood flow to the penis. Because this alternative erectile dysfunction treatment is topical, it doesn’t typically come with some of the more serious side effects possible with prescription medication. Enlargel is an ED lube many PEGym.com members have had great success with.
  1. Mental Health Counselling – ED may have a mental component to its cause. Remember, the brain is the largest sex organ! For this reason, seeking help from a mental health professional may actually help you address the underlying issues causing your erectile dysfunction. These can include anxiety, depression, or past traumas, just to name a few.
  1. Penis Pumps – Currently, the only alternative to prescription medications approved by Medicare is the use of penis pumps, for the treatment of erectile dysfunction. Penis pumps, like the Bathmate, create a vacuum around the penis, causing blood to flow into it and creating an erection. A cock ring is then placed at the base of the penis, to prevent blood from flowing out, maintaining the erection.


vigrxplusThere are a variety of natural supplements you can get over-the-counter, instead of taking Levitra for erectile dysfunction.  These herbal remedies increase the blood flow to your penis naturally, and do not require a prescription. We’ve had lots of positive feedback from PEGym members about VigRX Plus.

Additionally, there are other prescription choices available for the treatment of ED. If Levitra isn’t working as well as you’d hoped, as your doctor about trying ViagraCialis is another popular prescription medication for erectile dysfunction, that can even be taken once daily, to allow for more spontaneous sex.


Levitra is an effective treatment for erectile dysfunction symptoms.  It is typically taken 30 minutes to an hour before you plan to have sex and does work for approximately 25% longer than Viagra. There are significant side effects you need to be cautious of, some even life threatening. Be sure to talk to your doctor to see if Levitra is right for you.