Cialis vs Tadalafil: Is there a difference?

Written by the Manual Team · Medically approved by Dr Earim Chaudry - MD

In 30 seconds…

Tadalafil and Cialis are both medications that help combat erectile dysfunction (ED). Cialis is widely marketed and comes with a specific brand name and appearance, whereas Tadalafil may come in unbranded packaging – and can be a small plain pill or vary slightly in appearance. They are both part of a class of medicines called PDE5 inhibitors which work by helping your blood vessels dilate. They both temporarily increase blood flow within the penis.

Tadalafil is the unbranded version of Cialis, and it is the active ingredient within Cialis. The bulking agents and chemical stabilisers that Cialis contains are sometimes not in Tadalafil, but these are largely medically irrelevant and will not impact the effectiveness of the tablets. Tadalafil and Cialis work for the same amount of time and have the same effects.

The Similarities and Differences of Tadalafil vs. Cialis

Tadalafil
The "weekend" pill

Known as the “weekend pill” for its long lasting effects, it’s the generic form of Cialis. Clinically proven to help you get an erection when you need it. For up to 36 hours!
Start from £15

When you’re looking into ED treatments, there’s a lot to research. In the Cialis vs. Tadalafil battle, you first need to know what the similarities and differences are between the two medications. 

Tadalafil and Cialis have the same active ingredient: Tadalafil. Their chemical content is identical. In a lab, you’d expect them to react the same way and produce identical results in tests. When you take Cialis and Tadalafil, your body will be reacting to the same chemicals. They’ll produce the same physical responses by the same mechanism to help you gain an erection and maintain it for longer.

Cialis vs. Tadalafil: How Long Will They Work?

Tadalafil and Cialis have identical results in clinical trials for their effectiveness. So when you use it yourself, you can expect them to have the same effects. They will work for roughly 36 hours, allowing you to perform at your peak several times over a weekend. Over 80% of men find them effective as treatments for their ED, and there is no observed difference between the two pills in trials. Cialis might have been the first ever “weekend pill” but it is no longer the only option in town for the same results.

Tadalafil also keeps pace with Cialis when it comes to how long you need to wait for it to kick in. Both start from about half an hour after you take them, which means no long delays before you get physical!

The bioequivalence between Tadalafil and Cialis means that you should expect them to work best in the same circumstances. You can achieve the best results if you can relax and get into the mood. The medicine only builds on your own natural sexual arousal; it’s not a magic pill – so the more aroused you are, the better the medication will work.

 

Tested and and Approved Medications

This medication has been through extensive trials, and has been available on prescription for decades. Whether you go for branded Cialis or unbranded Tadalafil, they are safe and suitable for use, and they are both licensed for erectile dysfunction treatment. 

The most common side effects are mild, such as a stuffy nose or slight facial flushing. And it’s important to note that even these side effects are rare. As a responsible patient, it’s important to know that if you have been advised against taking Cialis, you should also avoid Tadalafil. Any side effects you had with Cialis would be repeated with the Tadalafil because of the identical active ingredient. 

 

So is there a difference between Cialis and Tadalafil? 

Yes, there are a few small differences but the majority of those differences are to your advantage… 

What Are the Differences Between Tadalafil and Cialis?

Put simply, the biggest difference between Cialis and Tadalafil is the box it comes in. Cialis is a brand name product whereas Tadalafil is generic – although it has the same active content and effects. 

The superficial differences may have you asking whether Tadalafil is as good as Cialis. Well, Cialis may come in a more attractive package, motivational slogans on the pill sleeve or have a pill that is shaped a special way. If the appearance of the product matters or you feel a strong emotional attachment to the brand, then there might be a reason to consider Cialis over Tadalafil. 

Cialis will typically be a yellowish oval pill, whereas Tadalafil can look various different ways. What won’t change, no matter how it looks, is how it works. 

The other big difference between Tadalafil and Cialis is the price. Cialis can cost two or three times as much as it’s generic twin. Cialis is an Eli Lilly brand, but Tadalafil can be sold by any licensed pharmaceutical producer. It can be manufactured MHRA-approved pharmaceutical manufacturers, and this diversity allows price competition to work in the favour of consumers.

 

What About Other ED Medications?

Sildenafil
The little blue pill

It’s the generic (unbranded) form of Viagra. Highly effective in helping you get and keep an erection. Clinically proven and used by millions of men worldwide. Easier erections, happy days.
Start from £15

In the family of PDE5 inhibitors are Sildenafil (Viagra), Vardenafil (Levitra), and Avanafil (Spedra). All of the Phosphodiesterase 5 inhibitors work in a similar way: the relaxation of the penile blood vessels to support expansion, which gives a stronger erection during arousal. 

What varies between them is the dosage, bioavailability, the length of time their effect takes to kick in, the amount of time they last for, and the side effect profiles. The main benefit of Tadalafil is how long it can last – up to 36 hours, as opposed to roughly 4-6 hours for Sildenafil (Viagra). It also has the most variable possible dosage, making it quite a versatile treatment. A lower dose could be taken every day, for example. 

Avanafil and Spedra kick in a little quicker, making them suitable for “on-demand” use shortly prior to anticipated sexual intercourse. But they don’t last as long as Tadalafil – which is a major drawback for some men. Vardenafil (Levitra) and Sildenafil (Viagra) both have the downside of being effective for less time than Tadalafil. That said, they work well and if you’re looking for something for less than 36 hours, they’re good options for most men. 

Tadalafil also takes the same amount of time to take effect as some shorter-acting options, but it provides support for much longer. Over a weekend away, that would mean potentially as little as 30 minutes of waiting time for a stronger erection. As opposed to at least twice that on a daily medicine. 

Among the non-pharmaceutical measures are a lot of good common sense ideas that are great to combine with some medical support. As we’ve outlined in other articles, taking care of yourself with a balanced diet and getting enough rest and exercise can only help you in the battle against ED. They will also give medicines like Tadalafil a strong base to build upon.

 

Key Takeaways

You might have heard of the Cialis brand first, but that doesn’t mean it should necessarily be your first choice. For those of us who are looking for medication we can take and forget about for the weekend, Tadalafil offers this benefit for the most competitive price. 

Order from a reputable and accredited supplier, and follow the advice in the medication leaflet. Each individual is different, but you can be sure that Tadalafil and Cialis are medical equivalents.