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Last updated: Nov 24, 2021
4 min read

Cialis and alcohol: is it safe to mix the two?

yael coopermanlinnea zielinski

Medically Reviewed by Yael Cooperman, MD

Written by Linnea Zielinski

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.

You might already have a beer in hand as you search online for an answer to the question, “Can you mix Cialis and alcohol?” The simple answer is yes. You can have a drink or two while taking Cialis. There are a few caveats, though.

Cialis (generic name: tadalafil) works by widening the blood vessels in your penis. But it does the same thing elsewhere in your body. And just like on a highway, if you have a wider road, you’ve got less traffic. Less traffic in your blood vessels means lower blood pressure. 

Much like Cialis and other ED drugs, alcohol also widens your blood vessels. That means that combining the two can make your blood pressure drop significantly, leading to dizziness. And, if a dizzy spell isn’t enough to turn down that fifth drink, alcohol is known to make it harder to get hard. Yes, “whiskey dick” is a thing, and it can inhibit the effects of a drug like Cialis.

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How much Cialis and alcohol is too much?

The manufacturer of Cialis (generic name: tadalafil; see Important Safety Information), Eli Lilly, says that having a few drinks with Cialis is unlikely to increase the risks of side effects. However, taking Cialis with alcohol can be harmful if you drink in excess (Eli Lilly, 2008). 

So, while you may not need to fully abstain, moderation is key when it comes to drinking while taking tadalafil (Cialis). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines moderate drinking as one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men (CDC, 2019).  One drink translates to a 5-ounce glass of wine, a 12-ounce glass of beer, or a 1.5-ounce shot. 

The effects of combining tadalafil and alcohol

Now that you’re aware that it’s safe to have a drink or two when you’re taking Cialis let’s talk about what happens to the body if your alcohol consumption is higher than the recommended limit while you’re on Cialis.

First, it’s good to remember that both alcohol and Cialis lower your blood pressure, so combining them can increase that effect, sometimes dangerously. Low blood pressure can lead to dizziness, headaches, and rapid heartbeats. In extreme cases, it can make you lose consciousness (Eli Lilly, 2008; Kim, 2019).

Then, there’s the unwanted risk of “whiskey dick.” You’ve probably heard, or experienced firsthand, that alcohol makes it harder to get an erection (Arackal, 2007). If you struggle with erectile dysfunction, steering clear of alcoholic beverages may be a good idea. And if you want to test the water—or whiskey—, before jumping to two or three drinks a night, see how one drink affects your ability to get an erection while taking Cialis. 

Overall, it’s unlikely for moderate drinking to cause serious side effects, but it’s always a good idea to discuss possible drug interactions between your medicine and alcohol with a healthcare provider before giving it a go (DailyMed, 2009).

Other drug interactions and side effects

Alcohol isn’t the only thing that can interact with Cialis. If you are taking any of the following medications, let your healthcare provider know before starting treatment with Cialis (DailyMed, 2009):

  • Nitrates
  • Alpha-blockers such as tamsulosin
  • Blood pressure medications
  • HIV protease inhibitors
  • Ketoconazole (brand name Nizoral)
  • Itraconazole (brand name Sporanox)
  • Erythromycin
  • Other erectile dysfunction treatments like sildenafil (brand name: Viagra; see Important Safety Information

Additionally, people who have had heart problems like a heart attack or heart disease, liver problems, stomach ulcers, bleeding problems, or people who have had a stroke may not be able to use Cialis. 

Medications and medical conditions aside, it is possible to experience side effects of Cialis without drinking alcohol or combining it with another drug. The most common possible side effects of Cialis and daily Cialis include headache, indigestion, back pain, stuffy or runny nose, blurred vision, muscle aches, rash, and dizziness (DailyMed, 2009). 

It may also cause priapism, which is when an erection lasts for four hours or longer. Other rare but serious side effects include sudden loss of vision or hearing. Seek immediate medical attention if you experience these symptoms (DailyMed, 2009). 

Mixing Cialis and alcohol: the takeaway

Sometimes, you just want to have a beer with your friends, and you don’t want to have to worry about how that drink may affect your ED treatment. You can have a drink or two when taking Cialis, as long as you drink in moderation. But, remember: While a drink or two won’t likely have a negative impact on your health, alcohol can make it harder for you to get an erection. 

If you have more questions about combining tadalafil and alcohol, don’t hesitate to reach out to your healthcare provider. 

References

  1. Arackal, B. S., & Benegal, V. (2007). Prevalence of sexual dysfunction in male subjects with alcohol dependence. Indian Journal of Psychiatry, 49(2), 109–112. Doi: 10.4103/0019-5545.33257. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2917074/ 
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (2020). Facts about moderate drinking. Retrieved November 3, 2021, from https://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/fact-sheets/moderate-drinking.htm
  3. DailyMed. (2020) Cialis- tadalafil tablet, film-coated. Retrieved on November 2, 2021, from https://dailymed.nlm.nih.gov/dailymed/drugInfo.cfm?setid=ebddb745-81f9-4b25-8739-b2886032ed26
  4. Dhaliwal, A., & Gupta, M. (2021). PDE5 Inhibitors. [Updated Jun 25, 2021]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK549843/
  5. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). (2008). [email protected]: Cialis (tadalafil) tablets for oral administration. Retrieved November 3, 2021 from https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2008/021368s011lbl.pdf
  6. Kim, J. N., Oh, J. J., Park, S. D., Hong, K. Y., & Yu, Y. D. (2019). Influence of alcohol on phosphodiesterase 5 inhibitors use in middle- to old-aged men: a comparative study of adverse events. Sexual Medicine, 7(4), 425–432. doi: 10.1016/j.esxm.2019.07.004. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6963111/