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What Is Levitra?

Still a popular choice for men with erectile dysfunction, Levitra was the second erectile dysfunction drug to win approval from the Food and Drug Administration. Many men who use Levitra report that it takes effect faster and lasts longer than Viagra.

Men in the United States today can choose from five brand-name prescription drugs — Viagra, Levitra, Cialis, Staxyn, and Stendra — that treat erectile dysfunction. Also available in addition to these five are generic equivalents of both Viagra and Cialis.

Of the five brand-name drugs, Levitra was second only to Viagra to hit the U.S. market. Approved by the Food and Drug Administration in August 2003, Levitra was originally marketed by a partnership between Bayer, GSK (GlaxoSmithKline), and Shering Plough (which is now part of Merck and Co.). Levitra’s active ingredient is vardenafil hydrochloride, which is also the active ingredient in Staxyn, an orosoluble (dissolves in the mouth and thus can be taken without water) formulation of the compound.

How Does Levitra Work?

Levitra belongs to a family of drugs known as PDE5 inhibitors.

Like all the other oral ED medications, Levitra belongs to a family of drugs that are known collectively as PDE5 inhibitors. These drugs temporarily increase blood flow to the penis, helping men achieve and maintain an erection strong enough for sexual activity. For an erection to occur, blood vessels supplying the penis must dilate, while those taking blood away from the penis must contract, so that the net result is blood accumulation in the penis. In other words, temporarily, more blood flows in than out.

The process that results in an erection begins with nitric oxide, which is released when the male is sexually aroused. Nitric oxide triggers a chain of events culminating in the creation of a substance called cyclic guanosine monophosphate, or cGMP, which causes the smooth muscle tissue in arteries to relax, thus expanding artery walls and increasing blood flow.

Levitra temporarily sidelines the phosphodiesterase-5 enzyme (PDE5), which can interfere with the normal erection process because it breaks down cGMP. Levitra’s inhibition of the PDE5 enzyme prolongs cGMP function, thus making it easier for the erection process to proceed unimpeded.

Side Effects and Drug Interactions

The most common side effects reported with Levitra include:

  • stuffy or runny nose
  • headache
  • indigestion
  • flushing of the face
  • dizziness

Typically these side effects are mild and disappear within a few hours.

More serious side effects, which are rare, include a a sudden reduction or loss of hearing or vision or a prolonged erection — four hours or more. Though these side effects are very uncommon, any man who experiences them should stop taking Levitra and get medical help immediately.

The consumption of alcohol with Levitra can increase the likelihood of certain side effects, and consuming grapefruit or grapefruit juice prolong the effects of Levitra, thus exacerbating any possible adverse side effects. Men should not take other ED drugs or supplements, whether prescription or herbal, while taking Levitra. Men who take the following drugs should tell their physicians before taking Levitra:

  • Vaprisol
  • Gleevec
  • Isoniazid
  • antidepressants
  • antibiotics
  • antifungal medications
  • drugs for high blood pressure or prostate conditions like Uroxatral, Cardura, Minipress, Hytrin, or Flomax
  • heart medication like Cardizem, Cardene, Calan, Cordarone, Quin-G, Procan, or Betapace
  • HIV drugs including Reyataz, Rescriptor, Lexiva, Crixivan, Viracept, Invirase, or Norvir

Who Should Not Take Levitra?

Men who take nitroglycerin tablets or other nitrate-based drugs should not take Levitra.

Men who take nitrates for heart conditions or use the recreational drugs known as “poppers” should not take Levitra. Men who take alpha blockers for prostate problems or high blood pressure should not take Levitra due to the risk of a sudden, unsafe drop in blood pressure. Men who are not healthy enough to have sexual activity should not take Levitra, and men who are allergic to any ingredients in Levitra should not take it.

Levitra Dosage Information

Levitra is available in tablets of 2.5, 5, 10, and 20 milligrams. The recommended starting dose of Levitra is 10 milligrams, which can then be adjusted upward or downward as appropriate. The drug should be taken 30 to 60 minutes before sex, and men should not take more than one tablet in 24 hours unless otherwise directed by their physician.

How is Levitra Different?

Levitra works faster than Viagra, taking effect in as little as 16 minutes, compared to 30-plus minutes for Viagra. Since Levitra comes in more dosages, men are better able to tailor their dosage for increased potency and minimal side effects. While Viagra should be taken on an empty stomach, Levitra may be taken with food.

Some clinical trials have found Levitra to be longer lasting than Viagra, lasting up to six hours, rather than the typical four-hour duration of Viagra. The drug Cialis is reported by many men to have a less acute, but longer-lasting effect than Levitra and Viagra. Cialis, which also goes by the nickname “the weekend pill,” can last for up to 36 hours, though many men report a milder increase in potency with Cialis than with Levitra and Viagra.

Which Drug Should Men Choose?

In general, men who are healthy enough to take one of the three major ED drugs can safely try the others. Which ED drug to choose is mostly a matter of personal preference, assuming none of the drugs is contraindicated due to other health problems or possible drug interactions. Men tend to report that Viagra and Levitra cause a shorter, more intense response, while Cialis causes a less intense, though longer lasting, response.

Obtaining Levitra Safely and Legally

Like all the other ED medications, Levitra is a prescription drug. To obtain Levitra safely, men should visit their physician or work with a trusted online facilitator that employs licensed U.S. physicians and pharmacists. Arizona-based eDrugstore.com is one such supplier than can assist men in obtaining genuine name-brand Levitra quickly, discreetly, and at a reasonable price. Ordering from overseas pharmacies is extremely risky because many of the products obtained in this way turn out to be counterfeit, ineffective, or dangerous. Only purchase Levitra from a trusted U.S.-based source. To learn more about all the services eDrugstore has to offer, visit its Erectile Dysfunction page.