Cialis vs Tadalafil: Is there a difference?

Cialis vs Tadalafil: Is there a difference?

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Tadalafil and Cialis have plenty in common. Both are medications that help combat erectile dysfunction (ED). Both belong to a class of medicines called PDE5 inhibitors, which work by helping your blood vessels dilate. And they both temporarily increase blood flow within the penis.
But they also have a few marked differences. Cialis is a brand name, widely marketed and manufactured with a specific appearance. Tadalafil, on the other hand, may come in unbranded packaging, and can be a small, plain pill, or vary slightly in appearance.
What many people don’t realise is that Tadalafil is the unbranded, generic version of Cialis — and also the active ingredient in Cialis. The bulking agents and chemical stabilisers that Cialis contains aren’t always found in generic Tadalafil, but these are largely medically irrelevant and won’t impact the effectiveness of the tablets. In short, Tadalafil and Cialis work for the same amount of time and boast the same effects.

Tadalafil or Cialis: Are They Basically The Same?

Essentially, yes. Once you dig into the Cialis vs Tadalafil debate, you’ll discover that they have a great deal in common — and that their key differences are largely cosmetic and commercial in nature.  

For starters, Tadalafil and Cialis have the same active ingredient: Tadalafil

Their chemical content is completely identical. In a lab test, you’d expect them to react the same way and produce indistinguishable results. 

And when you take either Cialis or 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 a longer period of time.

What Are the Differences Between Tadalafil and Cialis? 

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

These superficial differences may have you wondering: “Is Tadalafil as good as Cialis?” 

So, to answer that, let’s examine these differences in a little more detail:

1. They Look Different

Cialis tablets are typically yellow, oval-shaped, and film-coated. They come in 2.5mg, 5mg, 10mg, or 20mg doses. 

Tadalafil, meanwhile, might look similar — but it’s also available in different shapes and colours.

What won’t change, no matter how it looks, is how it works. Branded or generic, any difference in appearance is simply cosmetic and has no medical benefit.

2. They Have Different Price Points

Cialis is only produced by one manufacturer, Eli Lilly. This means they have complete control over the price, without any competition for the brand. Because Cialis is a well-known name in the world of ED (and in popular culture), Eli Lilly is able to charge a premium price.

Tadalafil, on the other hand, is made by several different manufacturers and can be sold by any licensed pharmaceutical provider, meaning the market is incredibly competitive. This has helped drive the price down significantly.

Cialis can cost anywhere from two to three times more than the generic version of Tadalafil. However, as Tadalafil becomes more popular, the demand for Cialis may decrease, forcing a drop in price to remain competitive.

Cialis (Tadalafil)

The weekend pill

Known as the “weekend pill” because it is effective for up to 36 hours, Tadalafil is the generic, unbranded version of Cialis. Clinically proven to help you get an erection when you need it.


Best for
Weekend use
Effective in
Effective in 8 out of 10 men
Dosage
2.5mg, 10mg, 20mg

Cialis vs. Tadalafil: Frequently Asked Questions

How Long Does It Take For Results?

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 couple of days. 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 down to business.

The bioequivalence between Tadalafil and Cialis also means that you should expect them to work best in the same circumstances. You can achieve the best results if you are able to 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 through sexual stimulation, the better the medication will work.

Are they approved by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration)?

This type of 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.

Viagra (Sildenafil)

The little blue pill

It’s the active ingredient in Viagra. MHRA approved and clinically proven to be highly effective by increasing blood flow into the penis.


Best for
One off use
Effective in
8 out of 10 men
Dosage
50 to 100mg

What Are the Side Effects of Cialis and Tadalafil?

The most common side effects of Tadalafil are mild, including symptoms like a headache, stuffy nose (nasal congestion), low blood pressure, indigestion, dizziness, or slight facial flushing. But even these mild side effects are rare

In even rarer cases, there have been more serious side effects reported, including back pain, chest pain and priapism. Note: If you experience sudden vision loss or symptoms akin to a heart attack, contact your doctor immediately and refrain from further sexual activity.

There are possible drug interactions with other prescription drugs for antibiotics, antifungals, antidepressants, high blood pressure, and some other drugs for medical conditions. If you’re in doubt about whether you should take Cialis or Tadalafil, contact a medical professional at Manual
As a responsible patient, it’s crucial that if you’ve been warned against taking Cialis, you should also avoid Tadalafil. Any side effects you had with Cialis would be repeated with the Tadalafil, because they’re not just the same class of drugs – they have an identical active ingredient.

Why Should I Pay More For the Same Results?

Well, Cialis comes in a more attractive package; it has motivational slogans printed on the pill sleeve; the pill has been manufactured so that it’s shaped in a special way. 

And if the overall appearance of a product matters to you, or you tend to feel a strong emotional attachment to a brand, then that might be a good enough reason to consider Cialis over Tadalafil. 

Otherwise, you’ll find far greater value opting for the generic version.

What About Other ED Medications?

Outside of Cialis and Tadalafil, you’ll find other PDE5 inhibitors such as Sildenafil (Viagra), Vardenafil (Levitra), and Avanafil (Spedra). They are all approved for treatment of erectile dysfunction. 

All of these 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 the 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 also 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 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: Cialis vs Tadalafil 

You may have heard of the Cialis brand first, but that doesn’t mean it should necessarily be your first port of call. For those of you who are looking for a medication you can simply 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 now you can be sure that Tadalafil and Cialis are medical equivalents.

Erections aren’t always easy for millions of men in the UK. It’s no big deal. Choose from highly effective, clinically proven solutions.

While we've ensured that everything you read on the Health Centre is medically reviewed and approved, information presented here is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. It should never be relied upon for specific medical advice. If you have any questions or concerns, please talk to your doctor.

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