Tadalafil, the active ingredient in the medication Cialis®, is one of the most effective and widely used options on the market for treating erectile dysfunction, or ED. 

As with other erectile dysfunction medications, Cialis is available in a variety of dosages. One of the most common forms of Cialis is a 20mg tablet, which is designed for use when needed as a treatment for erectile dysfunction. 

If you suffer from erectile dysfunction, using Cialis at a 20mg dosage may make it easier for you to get and keep an erection. However, the 20mg dosage of Cialis isn’t the only way that you can use Cialis, nor is it the only option for treating ED. 

Below, we’ve explained how Cialis 20mg works, as well as how it compares to other dosages of Cialis and FDA-approved ED treatments such as Viagra® (sildenafil), Levitra® (vardenafil) and Stendra® (avanafil).

How Cialis Works

Tadalafil, the active ingredient in Cialis, belongs to a class of medications that are referred to as PDE5 inhibitors. It works by inhibiting the actions of an enzyme called phosphodiesterase type 5, which is responsible for regulating blood flow to the erectile tissue of your penis.

When you take Cialis, it becomes easier for blood to flow into the corpus cavernosa — the soft, spongy tissue of your penis that fills with blood to become erect. This increased blood flow can help you to get and maintain an erection when you feel sexually aroused.

Cialis 20mg vs. Other Cialis Dosages

Cialis comes in oral tablet form and is available in several dosages, ranging from just 2.5mg per tablet to 5mg, 10mg and 20mg. The 20mg version of Cialis is currently the strongest dosage of Cialis that’s available.

Some of these Cialis dosages are designed for use as needed (used only before sex), whereas others are designed for use every day. We’ve explained how each dosage works in more detail below.

Cialis 10mg

The FDA recommends the 10mg version of Cialis as a starting dosage for use as needed as a treatment for erectile dysfunction. If you suffer from ED and want to use Cialis before you have sex instead of every day, your healthcare provider will likely recommend this dosage.

Research into Cialis has found that the 10mg dosage works well for most men. In clinical trials, 68 percent to 77 percent of men with ED who used Cialis at a 10mg dosage were able to successfully have penetrative sex with their partner, versus 46 percent to 55 percent of men given a placebo.

As you may expect, Cialis 10mg has a moderately higher rate of side effects than the 5mg and 2.5mg versions of this medication, and a slightly lower rate of side effects than Cialis 20mg.

Cialis 20mg

Cialis is also available as a 20mg tablet. This version of Cialis is the strongest dosage that is approved for use by the FDA and, just like the 10mg version of Cialis, is designed for use as needed before you have sex.

Your healthcare provider may prescribe the 20mg version of Cialis if you don’t get satisfactory results from the 10mg dosage.

Studies of Cialis 20mg have found that it’s typically more effective than lower-dose versions of Cialis. In clinical trials, 76 percent to 85 percent of men given this dosage could successfully have sex with their partner, versus 68 percent to 77 percent of men who used Cialis at a 10mg dosage.

Cialis 20mg is slightly more likely to cause certain side effects, such as headache or dyspepsia (indigestion) than the 10mg dosage of Cialis. However, these side effects are still uncommon — the most common, headache, was only reported by 15 percent of people in clinical trials.

Cialis 5mg

Cialis is available as a 5mg tablet. This version of Cialis can be taken daily (we’re explained this in more detail below) or as needed to treat erectile dysfunction.

Your healthcare provider may suggest using Cialis 5mg if you experience unpleasant side effects from the 10 or 20mg dosages, or if you think that these dosages are more than needed in order to treat your erectile dysfunction. 

Used as needed, Cialis 5mg is more effective than placebo but less effective at treating ED than Cialis 10mg or 20mg. It’s also slightly less likely to cause certain side effects, such as headache and dyspepsia (indigestion).

Daily Cialis (Cialis 5mg and 2.5mg)

Cialis is also available as a daily-use medication in 5mg and 2.5mg dosages. These versions of Cialis are designed to be taken once per day at the same time every day, instead of as needed before you have sex.

Taking Cialis daily rather than as needed has some advantages, such as fewer side effects and a simple dosage schedule. However, it also has some disadvantages. 

Cialis 20mg vs. Viagra (Sildenafil)

Cialis is often compared to other ED medications such as Viagra (sildenafil). As a treatment for erectile dysfunction, the 20mg dosage of Cialis offers several advantages compared to Viagra:

  • It’s longer lasting. The effects of Cialis 20mg last for approximately 36 hours, making it a very long-lasting treatment for erectile dysfunction. In comparison, the effects of Viagra tend to fade away after three to five hours

    Because of this, as-needed Cialis might be a better choice for you if you’re looking for a treatment for ED that lasts for the entire day.
  • It’s less affected by food.Cialis is not affected by food, meaning you can take it before or after eating. While it’s also okay to take Viagra with food, taking Viagra after a high-fat meal may affect the drug’s absorption and slow down its effects.

On the other hand, the 20mg dosage of Cialis also has a variety of disadvantages compared to Viagra:

  • In certain circumstances, it might be too long-lasting.Cialis is famous for providing relief from ED for longer than other medications. However, if you only need to treat ED for a night, the 36-hour effectiveness of Cialis 20mg might be more than is needed.
  • It may cause longer-lasting side effects. If you’re prone to side effects from Cialis or other ED medications, Cialis 20mg might not be the best option, as its long duration of action may also mean that side effects persist for an entire day or longer.

Although they’re different, both of these medications are effective at treating ED. Our Cialis vs. Viagra guide goes into more detail on the advantages and disadvantages of both medications, from effectiveness to side effects, ease of use, safety and more. 

Cialis 20mg vs. Other ED Medications

Other medications, such as Levitra (vardenafil) and Stendra (avanafil) can also treat erectile dysfunction. Like Viagra, these medications differ from the 20mg dosage of Cialis in several ways:

  • Levitra. Levitra may last for slightly longer than Viagra, providing slightly extended relief from ED symptoms. This makes it a good alternative to Cialis if you’re looking for ED medication that’s designed for a single night of use.
  • Stendra. Stendra is a new medication for ED. It works in as little as 15 minutes, making it a faster-acting medication than Cialis. It lasts for about four to six hours and has a lower rate of side effects than older ED medications such as Cialis, Viagra and Levitra. 

In Conclusion

The 20mg dosage of Cialis is a good option if you want relief from erectile dysfunction that lasts for an entire day or longer. However, it’s slightly more likely to cause side effects than the 10mg version of Cialis, which is what healthcare professionals typically prescribe first, or the lower-dose 5mg and 2.5mg Cialis tablets designed for daily use. 

If you have erectile dysfunction and want to use Cialis, it’s best to talk to a healthcare provider. You’ll be able to discuss your symptoms and work out which treatment is best for you based on your lifestyle, personal needs and overall health.

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.

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