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Medically reviewed by
Dr Daniel Atkinson
GP Clinical lead
on August 02, 2022.
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What is Levitra?

Levitra is a licensed treatment for ED and the vardenafil brand name. Vardenafil is the active ingredient in Levitra medication and it works by relaxing the blood vessels in the penis helping you get an erection. 

Compared to alternative ED pills on the market, such as Viagra, Levitra gets to work a little quicker, is more potent, and for older men or men with underlying health conditions, Levitra is often more easily tolerated.

How do Levitra pills work?

When you get sexually aroused, signals are sent to the blood vessels in your penis which relax and dilate. As a result, more blood is sent into two shaft-like pieces of cylindrical tissue that run up your penis, and you get hard.

If you battle with ED the blood vessels in the penis don’t dilate as much as they should. Possible causes are high blood pressure, poor circulation or nerves not properly relaying signals. The result can be difficulty getting an erection, an erection that doesn’t last, or a ‘semi’ and no further.

The active ingredient in Levitra, vardenafil, is a PDE5 inhibitor. PDE5 is the enzyme in the body that causes blood vessels to tighten. By reducing its activity, Levitra helps your blood vessels open up, improving blood flow. This means, when aroused, blood flows more easily into the penis and you get longer-lasting, firmer erections.

What are Levitra orodispersible tablets?

Regular Levitra is a film-coated, orange tablet which is swallowed with water. Staxyn tablets are white, round tablets which melt on your tongue and don’t need to be taken with water. Staxyn is the oro-dispersible version of Levitra and the generic medication Vardenafil, and is called Levitra OD (for oro-dispersible) in some other countries like the UK.

Staxyn could be a better option for you if you struggle swallowing tablets or you want to take a tablet as discreetly as possible. They should be taken as needed 25 to 60 minutes before sex and are only available in a 10mg dose.

One tablet (10mg) is the maximum dose of Staxyn. If a 10mg dose isn’t strong enough for you and your prescriber decides you need a higher dosage, you’ll need to go with regular Levitra.

Remember to only take Levitra or Vardenafil as your clinician advises. If you have any questions while you're taking it, just log into your account and send us a message.

Generic Levitra: What is Vardenafil?

Levitra was first introduced onto the market by Bayer Pharmaceuticals in 2003. Back then, Bayer had a patent for the active ingredient in Levitra: vardenafil. Meaning, they owned all trading rights and no one else could produce an identical ED pill. The Levitra patent expiration date was the 31st of October 2018. 

Today, with Bayer no longer exclusively owning vardenafil, other pharmaceutical companies can produce a generic version. Regulations ensure generic medicines contain the same active ingredient and have the same effect as their branded counterpart. Levitra and generic vardenafil may look different and come in different packaging but the two are medically identical.

The medication’s name will also differ depending on where in the world it’s produced and by what company. For example, Vardenafil Cipla in India, Vardenafil Sandoz in Brazil, and so on.

Is Vardenafil the same as Levitra then?

Yes. Vardenafil is generic Levitra, meaning the two treatments have the same active ingredient but are produced by different labs. 

A generic brand Levitra may be slightly cheaper, the pill will look different, and have different packaging, but both should be equally as effective in treating ED. 

How to take Levitra

Take one tablet whole with a glass of water. It should start to work within 25-60 minutes so long as you are sexually stimulated. Levitra should remain active in your system for up to five hours

Make sure you read the Levitra directions on the leaflet provided and never take more than one tablet in any 24 hour period.

How long does it take Levitra to work?

Between 25 and 60 minutes. It’s a good idea to allow for the full 60 minutes, to make sure it’s had enough time to work. Once taken, it should stay active in your system for up to five hours.

Levitra OD will work a little faster. In clinical trials testing vardenafil (Levitra) OD in real-life settings, 34.5% of men with ED were able to achieve an erection within 15 minutes and 26% within 30 minutes.

If you’ve taken it with or after a heavy meal, it may take longer than the 60-minute window to take effect. If you find that it works but doesn’t last very long, speak with your clinician, they may be able to suggest a change in how you’re taking it or a change in dose.

How long does Levitra last?

The Levitra half-life when taking a standard 10mg dose is four to five hours. This means that the effects of Levitra will last for up to five hours. During this time you should be able to get an erection if aroused.

When we say it will ‘last for up to five hours’ we don’t mean that you’ll have a five-hour-long erection. This is not the case and should you get an erection that lasts more than four hours you should go to the hospital.

On the flip side, if you take Levitra and get an erection, but it doesn’t last very long, it may be that your dose is too low. Let your prescriber know and they may consider increasing your dose.

What if Levitra doesn’t work?

Normally, your doctor will recommend a starting dose of 10mg. If you start treatment with Levitra at a 10mg dose but find you aren’t able to get an erection or it isn’t working as well as you’d like, don’t worry.

It’s recommended that you try the prescribed dosage a few times before deciding how well it works for you. Once you have an idea of how your body is responding, talk to your doctor, it may be that you need an adjusted dose.

A higher dose of 20mg is available if you find you’re not achieving erections as you’d like to. A lower dose of 5mg is also available if you take certain medications or have pre-existing conditions that change the body’s ability to metabolise Levitra.

Can I drink alcohol before I take Levitra? 

Yes. There’s no evidence to suggest that alcohol interacts with Levitra.

However, whilst a glass of wine can be a perfect addition to a romantic evening and shouldn’t impact Levitra’s effectiveness, excessive alcohol intake will affect how well Levitra works.

This is because a high alcohol intake can make it even harder to get a strong erection that lasts. As alcohol can significantly make ED symptoms worse, it’s a good idea to drink within sensible limits if you suffer from ED.

Can you take Levitra with food?

Taking Levitra with or without food is fine. Lighter meals are better as heavy or high-fat foods can slow down how fast the body absorbs Levitra. As a result, it will take longer to kick in and may be less effective.

If you’re taking Levitra with food and aren’t seeing the results you’d like, a good first step will be to wait 2 hours after eating before taking it. It’s possible you’re not getting the full effect.

The one dietary exception to remember is grapefruit juice, which can interact with Levitra, and so should be avoided.

How effective is Levitra?

A 2009 review of over a decade of research and more than 2000 men found that Levitra is effective, fast-acting and reliable. The review concluded it as: ‘A first-line treatment for men with ED, including those with underlying conditions.’

For example, in a study with over 300 men with ED, when given 10mg of vardenafil 80% were able to get an erection which would last throughout sex compared to only 21% for the placebo group.

Most recently, a Levitra clinical trial in 2018 found that when given 10mg of vardenafil not only were all aspects of erectile function significantly improved but so too was the man’s ability to successfully have sex.

Is there a way to make Levitra more effective?

Always read the instruction leaflet carefully before beginning Levitra. Remember, for Levitra to work you need to be aroused. If you’re not, it simply won’t work.

Levitra and food can interact, in that big meals will slow how fast Levitra is absorbed, so lighter is better. Remember to be patient and give it the full 60 minutes to take effect and give yourself the best chance of achieving a full erection.

To make Levitra more effective it’s also a good idea to address underlying factors which can worsen ED. Stress, relationship concerns, diet, exercise, and smoking can all impact the severity of symptoms.

What is Levitra used for besides ED?

Some treatments for ED are also prescribed for other conditions. 

Viagra, under the name Revatio, may be prescribed for pulmonary hypertension. Cialis, on the other hand, can be prescribed for for benign prostatic hyperplasia. 

Levitra however isn’t licensed for any other conditions and should only be used when treating ED.

Can you get Vardenafil for women?

No. Levitra is not suitable for use in women and is a male-only treatment.

Does Levitra work for performance anxiety?

Yes, Levitra can help with performance anxiety, but it’s an ‘indirect’ effect. Meaning, whilst Levitra doesn’t change the chemicals in the brain which lead to anxiety, by eliminating any worry as to whether or not you’re going to get it up, you’re not as anxious. 

Does Levitra help you last longer?

Some medications, such as sildenafil (Viagra), may help premature ejaculation. There is some supporting evidence that vardenafil, the active ingredient in Levitra, may also help. 

For example, in a small, 16-week, double-blind study, men who took vardenafil reported significantly increased ejaculatory control and in another 20 patient study men given vardenafil had a 67% improvement in PE.

Whilst these results are promising there isn’t a large enough body of evidence yet to draw reliable answers.

Vardenafil or Sildenafil?

These two popular ED drugs both work by increasing blood flow to the penis during sexual stimulation, and they’re both taken in similar ways. 

Sildenafil (Viagra) is slightly cheaper and has the added benefit of being one of the most well-recognised names in pharmaceuticals globally. Vardenafil (Levitra) doesn’t have Viagra’s PR clout but may be easier for men with pre-existing health conditions to tolerate

Your prescriber, who’ll take into account your medical history, will be able to help you decide which treatment is best for you.

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This page was medically reviewed by Dr Daniel Atkinson, GP Clinical lead on August 02, 2022. Next review due on August 02, 2024.

How we source info:

When we present you with stats, data, opinion or a consensus, we’ll tell you where this came from. And we’ll only present data as clinically reliable if it’s come from a reputable source, such as a state or government-funded health body, a peer-reviewed medical journal, or a recognized analytics or data body. Read more in our editorial policy.

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