How long does it take for Cialis to work?

last updated: May 14, 2024

3 min read

Key takeaways

  • Cialis (tadalafil) is an oral medication used to treat erectile dysfunction that can be taken as-needed 30 minutes before sex or daily. 

  • As-needed Cialis It can take as little as 30 minutes for Cialis to start working, but on average, it takes 1 to 2 hours to feel the medication’s effects. 

  • Cialis can also be taken daily in a low and steady dose. It takes a few days for the medication to build up in your system, but once it does, you should be able to get an erection whenever you’re aroused.

If you’re considering Cialis (tadalafil) to treat erectile dysfunction (ED), you might be wondering how long it takes for Cialis to work. After all, timing can very much be of the essence when the mood strikes. Good news: The effects of Cialis usually begin around 30-60 minutes after taking the medication. And depending on your dosage and other factors, the drug can continue to have an impact for up to 36 hours. If you opt for the daily Cialis option, you can be ready for sex around the clock.

Keep reading to learn how long Cialis takes to work, how long it lasts, and what to do if it doesn’t seem to be helping.

Cialis Important Safety Information: Read more about serious warnings and safety info.

Erectile dysfunction

Always be ready when the mood is right. Consult a healthcare provider about Cialis®

How long does Cialis take to kick in? 

Clinical trials show that it can take as little as 30 minutes for Cialis to start working. While for some people it may take a bit longer to kick into gear, on average, it takes about an hour to feel its effects. That’s as opposed to Viagra, which starts working 30-60 minutes after you take it and reaches its maximum effects by the 1-2 hour mark. Another option is Ro Sparks, a sublingual 2-in-1 ED treatment made with active ingredients sildenafil and tadalafil can actually start working in an average of 15 minutes. 

One of the real benefits of Cialis compared with Viagra is that Cialis can be taken with or without food. Viagra isn’t as effective (or can take longer to become effective) if you eat in the three hours before you take it. That’s especially true if you eat a high-fat meal. That can be a mood killer if you want to take your meds right after a dinner date when you’re already in the mood. Luckily, Cialis is entirely unaffected by the food you eat, meaning that’s not an issue when it comes to the onset of effects.

Unlike other ED medications, Cialis can be taken either daily at a lower dose or as needed (i.e. before sex) at a higher dose. If you take Cialis as needed before you plan to have sex, aim to take your medication at least 30-60 minutes before you want to have sex. Some experts recommend trying the medication on your own the first time to see how it affects you. That can help you plan better when you’re with a partner. If you take daily Cialis, take the medication at the same time each day, regardless of when (or if) you plan to have sex. And if taking a pill every day sounds tedious (hey, we get it), Daily Rise Gummies might be a better option for you. Containing 7 mg of tadalafil (the same active ingredient in Cialis), Daily Rise Gummies provide ED treatment in a convenient, fruit-flavored gummy that starts at less than $2 a day if prescribed. 

Viagra Important Safety Information: Read more about serious warnings and safety info.

How long does Cialis last? 

Depending on your dosage and other factors, such as lifestyle and age, the effects of Cialis can last for up to 36 hours after you've taken a dose. This doesn’t mean you’ll experience a continuous erection for a day and a half. Instead, it means that you’ll be able to get an erection whenever you’re aroused over a period of 36 hours. It’s because of its long-term effects that some have nicknamed Cialis “the weekend pill” and that the drug has earned a reputation for allowing more spontaneity in your sex life. 

One downside of the long-lasting action of Cialis is that there is a longer window in which you may experience side effects. Common side effects of Cialis include headache, upset stomach, back or muscle pain, flushing, dizziness, and changes in color vision in which objects may have a blue hue. Rare but serious side effects that require urgent medical attention may include very low blood pressure, sudden loss of vision or hearing, allergic reaction, or priapism (an erection that lasts 4+ hours).

Cialis can interact dangerously with nitrate medications, which are drugs that are used to treat chest pain and related heart problems. Taking Cialis and nitrates within 48 hours of each other can cause a dangerous drop in blood pressure. If a nitrate is needed and you’ve recently taken an ED drug, seek medical attention from a healthcare provider

Bottom line

As-needed Cialis works in about an hour, while daily Cialis should work around the clock. If it’s your first time taking Cialis, remember you need to be aroused for the medication to work. If you’ve taken it a few times already and you’re not getting the results you were hoping for, don’t fret. Talk to your healthcare provider; they can help determine whether Cialis—or another option, such as Viagra, Stendra, or Daily Rise Gummies—is right for you.

DISCLAIMER

If you have any medical questions or concerns, please talk to your healthcare provider. The articles on Health Guide are underpinned by peer-reviewed research and information drawn from medical societies and governmental agencies. However, they are not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.


How we reviewed this article

Every article on Health Guide goes through rigorous fact-checking by our team of medical reviewers. Our reviewers are trained medical professionals who ensure each article contains the most up-to-date information, and that medical details have been correctly interpreted by the writer.

Current version

May 14, 2024

Written by

Patricia Weiser, PharmD

Fact checked by

Yael Cooperman, MD


About the medical reviewer

Yael Cooperman is a physician and works as a Senior Manager, Medical Content & Education at Ro.

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