Vardenafil and Sildenafil are two common medications that men take to treat erectile dysfunction. But do you find it hard to decide which among these two should you use?
This post will compare vardenafil vs. sildenafil in terms of mode of action, dosage, side effects, and pricing to help you select the one that’s best for your needs.
We’ll start by taking a look at what vardenafil and sildenafil are, respectively. We need to understand the two medications by themselves so that we can select between vardenafil vs. sildenafil for ED.
After that, we’ll dive into a comparison between vardenafil and sildenafil, pointing out their similarities and differences to help you understand which one is a better fit for you.
An Overview of Vardenafil
Let’s kick off our quest on which is better, vardenafil or sildenafil, by getting a bird’s eye view on vardenafil first.
Vardenafil is a medication classed under the PDE-5 inhibitors family. It relaxes the penis’ smooth muscles and improves blood flow to it, ultimately causing an erection (1).
Vardenafil is commonly marketed under the trade name Levitra. Other brand names for the drug are Vivanza, Levitra Soft, and Staxyn.
Bayer Pharmaceuticals initially discovered vardenafil as a compound that can improve erectile dysfunction in 2001. Other pharmaceutical companies GlaxoSmithKline and Schering-Plough joined Bayer in co-marketing vardenafil with the brand name Levitra. The medication was subsequently approved as an erectile dysfunction treatment in 2003.
Vardenafil comes in a round orange tablet form and has varying dosage strengths at 2.5 mg, 5 mg, 10 mg, and 20 mg. Most doctors recommend a starting dose of 10 mg taken orally to get results.
A newer variant of vardenafil with trade name Staxyn works by dissolving it on the tongue instead of swallowing the whole pill. Levitra Soft is another type of vardenafil’s fast-acting orally disintegrating tablet (2).
An Overview of Sildenafil
Now, let’s head over to what sildenafil is. This is so we can choose between vardenafil vs. sildenafil by the end of this post.
Sildenafil is the most common medication used by men to address impotence. It is widely marketed under the trade name Viagra, although it is also available under the brand name Revatio.
Sildenafil works by increasing blood flow to the penis, just like vardenafil. It also comes from the family of PDE-5 inhibitors (3).
It was Pfizer who initially discovered sildenafil in 1989. The company intended sildenafil to be used for the treatment of chest pain. But after observing that patients on sildenafil had more penile erections, Pfizer decided to market the medication as impotence treatment under the brand name Viagra.
Pfizer’s Viagra tablets come in blue diamond-shaped pills. Sildenafil may look differently from these pills, depending on the manufacturer, brand name, and country of origin. Sildenafil tablets are also available in various red, pink, yellow, and white pills.
Sildenafil is mostly taken orally. It can also be taken in the following routes:
- Sublingually (under the tongue)
- As a mouth spray
- As a liquid suspension
- As an injection given by a licensed physician
Both the generic and branded sildenafil pills come in 25 mg, 50 mg, and 100 mg strengths. Oral dosage for sildenafil in erectile dysfunction starts at 50 mg and may be increased to a maximum of 100 mg taken once daily.
Comparing Vardenafil vs Sildenafil Properties
Levitra vs. Viagra, which is better? Let’s find out by finally starting the comparison between vardenafil and sildenafil. We take a look at the two drugs by its various properties:
How the Medications Work
Vardenafil and sildenafil work in the same way. The physical difference lies only in two changes in the closely-similar molecular structure of the medications:
- A change in a nitrogen atom’s position
- A difference in the piperazine ring systems of the two medications
Both drugs inhibit the action of an enzyme called PDE-5. This enzyme causes the degradation of a chemical messenger called cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cGMP).
cGMP is essential for blood vessels in the penis to widen, filling it with enough blood to cause an erection. If less cGMP circulates inside the penis due to it being degraded by PDE-5, poor circulation and a flaccid penis ensue.
Vardenafil and sildenafil stop PDE-5 from acting against cGMP. The result is more cGMP circulating in the penis. Blood vessels ultimately relax and widen, enhancing blood flow and making the penis erect. Note that you still need to be sexually aroused before you get results from both vardenafil and sildenafil.
Vardenafil is regarded as more potent than sildenafil. It was proven that vardenafil’s molecular structure renders it more capable of inhibiting PDE-5 than sildenafil. This is mainly connected to the difference in the ring systems of the two drugs (4).
Required Dosage for ED
Sildenafil is generally available in larger doses. You need to take at least 50 mg of the pill once daily, 30 minutes to 4 hours before sexual activity. The most you can take is 100 mg per day.
Vardenafil, on the other hand, can be taken on lower dosage strengths. Doctors often prescribe 10 mg of oral vardenafil as an initial dose. You can take this orally once a day one hour before sexual activity.
Food Intake with Medication
Both can actually be taken with or without food.
Avoid high-fat foods when you take either of the drugs after a meal. Fat can inhibit the actions of vardenafil and sildenafil.
Onset of Action
Which is better, vardenafil, or sildenafil in terms of the onset of action? It’s usually vardenafil.
Vardenafil works at an average of 1 hour after oral intake. Meanwhile, sildenafil may take up to 4 hours to take effect properly.
Note that the onset of action for both medications may be affected by several factors in your health. Some people experience effects in as little as 15-30 minutes for either of the medicines, depending on the dosage and the reaction of their bodies. But several men swear by vardenafil and take it for its rapid effects on impotence.
Side Effects and Drug Interactions
If you choose between vardenafil vs. sildenafil in terms of side effects, you’d have to pick vardenafil. This is because the drug does not induce changes in color perception, an unusual side effect of sildenafil (5). However, note that vardenafil may cause mild flu-like symptoms not typically present in sildenafil.
Otherwise, vardenafil and sildenafil present with similar sets of possible adverse effects such as:
- Nasal congestion
- Back pain
- Priapism (an erection that goes on for more than four hours)
Drug interactions for both medications are generally the same (6). Avoid taking either of the medications alongside:
- Nitrates such as nitroglycerin
- Riociguat (a medicine for pulmonary arterial hypertension)
- CYP3A4 inhibitors (erythromycin, itraconazole, ketoconazole, ritonavir, and similar drugs)
- Alpha-blockers (terazosin, tamsulosin, alfuzosin, and similar medications)
- Alcoholic beverages
Levitra vs. Viagra, which is better in terms of affordability? Levitra 10 mg costs approximately $1,600 for 30 tablets. Meanwhile, Viagra 50 mg clocks in at around $2,300 for 30 tablets.
Generic vardenafil and sildenafil are often much cheaper. But do note that prices for both generic and branded vardenafil and sildenafil vary greatly depending on the pharmacy, the manufacturer, dosage strength, and availability in certain countries.
Also, these impotence drugs may not be covered by your insurance. Take advantage of any discount coupons your physician or pharmacy may offer.
The Final Verdict
Are you stuck whether to choose vardenafil vs. sildenafil for ED? Most people recommend vardenafil, as it has fewer side effects, works rapidly, and is generally cheaper than sildenafil.
Your body’s reaction and your needs will ultimately decide whether vardenafil or sildenafil is the better drug to treat erectile dysfunction. It’s entirely up to you which one works well for your impotence issues.
We hope that this vardenafil vs. sildenafil comparison enlightened you on selecting the treatment option that’s best for you.