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Cialis and Alcohol: Is it Safe?

Kelly Brown MD, MBA

Reviewed by Kelly Brown MD, MBA

Written by Steph Coelho

Published 02/11/2021

Updated 05/20/2024

It’s no secret that drinking too much can impact your sexual performance. But is mixing alcohol with erectile dysfunction (ED) medications safe? Can combining Cialis® and alcohol be dangerous?

If you’re taking Cialis (or the generic tadalafil) to treat ED, you might be wondering if it’s okay to continue drinking alcohol in moderation.

The answer is yes — but with some caveats.

Below, we’ll explain the risks of drinking with Cialis, what it means to drink in moderation, and the potential risks of alcohol use while on any prescription drug for ED.

Having one glass of wine, a beer, or a cocktail every day is unlikely to impact tadalafil’s effectiveness — or safety profile.

But before you can understand how your body might respond, let’s break down how ED medications like Cialis work.

Cialis is a prescription medication designed to treat erectile dysfunction. It’s approved for this use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Tadalafil is the active ingredient in Cialis. It falls into the same class of drugs as other erectile dysfunction medications, like Viagra® (sildenafil) and Levitra® (vardenafil), known as phosphodiesterase type-5 inhibitors — PDE5 inhibitors for short.

PDE5 inhibitors like Cialis are the first line of treatment for erectile dysfunction. They can help you get an erection by relaxing the blood vessels in your penis and boosting blood flow to the area.

They work by affecting an enzyme (PDE5) that regulates blood flow throughout the body, including blood flow to erectile tissues in your penis. 

By blocking PDE5, Cialis and other ED medications enable blood to flow more easily into the penis when you’re sexually aroused. As a result, it’s easier to achieve and maintain an erection.

So, can you drink on Cialis? We’ll explore the answer below.

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When used as directed, Cialis may help treat sexual dysfunction and boost sexual satisfaction. More than 80 percent of men have satisfactory erections after taking it.

But like any supplement or prescription medication, Cialis comes with a risk of side effects — and you should be careful about mixing it with substances like alcohol.

The main reason? Alcohol has similar effects to ED meds. 

At intoxicating levels, alcohol acts as a vasodilator (something that dilates blood vessels). So combining the two could lead to a condition called orthostatic hypotension (a sudden drop in blood pressure).

Clinically, orthostatic hypotension is defined as a drop in systolic blood pressure by 20 mmHg (millimeters of mercury) or a drop in diastolic blood pressure by 10 mmHg that occurs within three minutes of standing up.

In simple terms, it’s a drop in blood pressure that happens when you get up from lying down. 

Common symptoms include:

  • Dizziness

  • Lightheadedness

  • Fainting

  • Blurred vision

  • Nausea 

  • Headaches

Bottom line: Combining tadalafil and alcohol may lead to lower blood pressure, cause dizziness, and potentially make you feel sick.

Risks of Tadalafil With Alcohol

Though a minor, temporary decrease in blood pressure may not have lasting effects on your health, it could put you at risk for a fall. If you pair tadalafil with excessive alcohol consumption, the drop in blood pressure could be dangerous — not to mention the potential effects of long-term heavy alcohol consumption.

On top of other health risks, heavy drinking can further increase your risk of developing ED.

It’s a good idea to let a healthcare professional know if you have another medical condition, like a history of heart problems, before taking PDE5 inhibitors for ED or benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH).

For example, combining nitrates with either substance can impact blood pressure. Plus, did you know it’s not safe to drink grapefruit juice when taking certain medications?

Can You Take Cialis With Alcohol?

Okay, but what about Cialis and alcohol? PDE5 drug interactions with alcohol are more likely to happen with excessive drinking. Moderation is key to using these medications safely and without side effects.

Choose your chew

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), drinking in moderation is important for your long-term health. 

You should always drink alcohol safely and in moderation. If you’re taking Cialis for erectile dysfunction, it may help to know what moderation means.

Moderate consumption for an adult man is two or fewer drinks per day. This might look like two of the following drinks:

  • 12 ounces of 5 percent ABV beer

  • 8 ounces of 7 percent ABV malt liquor

  • 1.5 ounces of 40 percent ABV spirits

  • 5 ounces of 12 percent ABV wine

(ABV is alcohol by volume.)

You have an increased risk of side effects, like low blood pressure, if you drink more than five drinks while taking Cialis.

Can You Take Tadalafil After Drinking Alcohol?

Another thing you’ll want to remember about Cialis, in particular, is that — unlike other medications for ED — it stays in your system longer

Though it works the same way as other ED medications, its effects last much longer. A dose of Viagra lasts around four hours, and Levitra is just a little longer, sometimes up to six hours.

Cialis keeps working for up to 36 hours. This is critical because it extends the time when Cialis and alcohol could dangerously interact, elevating the risk of serious side effects.

According to the FDA, the most common adverse reactions to Cialis are:

  • Headache

  • Back pain

  • Congestion

  • Flushing

  • Indigestion

And since there’s an overlap between alcohol side effects (like dilated blood vessels) and Cialis, you may experience these effects with greater intensity when combining both substances.

What’s more, drinking heavily while taking Cialis and stopping suddenly might even cause your blood pressure to increase.

Other Cialis Warnings to Keep in Mind

Generally speaking, Cialis is safe when taken as directed. But here’s some additional safety advice to consider:

  • Cialis might interact with other substances too. Be mindful of other drugs or substances you take while on Cialis, as the two might interact poorly. 

  • Cialis should only be taken as directed by a healthcare professional. Cialis is a prescription medication, and you should only take it if a healthcare professional has prescribed it to you.

  • Cialis can cause dangerous health interactions. If you already have blood pressure or heart issues — including low blood pressure, heart disease, uncontrolled hypertension (aka high blood pressure), or a history of stroke or heart attack — let a medical professional know.

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Drinking heavily while taking many prescription medications can be dangerous. 

But does alcohol stop Cialis from working? It could, inadvertently. In the long term, alcohol could contribute to the very problem you’re trying to treat with medication.

However, moderate drinking while taking a prescription ED medication like Cialis is likely safe — though you might experience a worse hangover than usual.  

Let’s recap what we know about alcohol and Cialis:

  • Having one beer or a glass of wine is unlikely to affect your overall health or erectile health. But drinking excessively while on Cialis could lead to health issues.

  • The vasodilatory (blood vessel-dilating) effects of combining Cialis and alcohol could increase the side effects of Cialis, potentially leading to headaches, dizziness, or fainting related to low blood pressure. 

  • Compared to other ED drugs, Cialis usually stays in your system longer (up to 36 hours). This makes it more likely that you’ll have both alcohol and the medication in your system at the same time.

  • If you choose to drink, you might want to extend the time between drinking and taking Cialis.

  • If you experience side effects while taking Cialis, talk to your healthcare provider about changing your dose or trying another medication.

Trying to find other ways to manage ED without medication or want to switch to a different medication like Viagra or Stendra® (avanafil)? We can help. 

Our blog has plenty of advice on fighting ED with therapy, lifestyle changes, and other approaches.

If you’re ready to hear about your ED treatment options, we can help you find the right tailored strategy for optimal sexual wellness. Reach out today!

9 Sources

  1. Arackal BS. (2007). Prevalence of sexual dysfunction in male subjects with alcohol dependence. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2917074/
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022). Facts about moderate drinking. https://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/fact-sheets/moderate-drinking.htm
  3. CIALIS (tadalafil) tablets, for oral use. (n.d.). https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2011/021368s20s21lbl.pdf
  4. Fuchs FD. (2005). Vascular effects of alcoholic beverages: is it only alcohol that matters? https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/full/10.1161/01.hyp.0000164627.01274.ec
  5. Lanier JB, et al. (2011). Evaluation and management of orthostatic hypotension. https://www.aafp.org/pubs/afp/issues/2011/0901/p527.html
  6. Rashid A. (2005). The efficacy and safety of PDE5 inhibitors. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16156423/
  7. Rew KT, et al. (2016). Erectile dysfunction. https://www.aafp.org/pubs/afp/issues/2016/1115/p820.html
  8. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (n.d.). Definition & Facts for erectile dysfunction - NIDDK. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/urologic-diseases/erectile-dysfunction/definition-facts
  9. Young JM, et al. (2005). Tadalafil improved erectile function at twenty-four and thirty-six hours after dosing in men with erectile dysfunction: US trial. Journal of andrology. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.2164/jandrol.04126
Editorial Standards

Hims & Hers has strict sourcing guidelines to ensure our content is accurate and current. We rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We strive to use primary sources and refrain from using tertiary references. See a mistake? Let us know at [email protected]!

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment. Learn more about our editorial standards here.

Kelly Brown MD, MBA
Kelly Brown MD, MBA

Dr. Kelly Brown is a board certified Urologist and fellowship trained in Andrology. She is an accomplished men’s health expert with a robust background in healthcare innovation, clinical medicine, and academic research. Dr. Brown was previously Medical Director of a male fertility startup where she lead strategy and design of their digital health platform, an innovative education and telehealth model for delivering expert male fertility care.

She completed her undergraduate studies at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (go Heels!) with a Bachelor of Science in Radiologic Science and a Minor in Chemistry. She took a position at University of California Los Angeles as a radiologic technologist in the department of Interventional Cardiology, further solidifying her passion for medicine. She also pursued the unique opportunity to lead departmental design and operational development at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, sparking her passion for the business of healthcare.

Dr. Brown then went on to obtain her doctorate in medicine from the prestigious Northwestern University - Feinberg School of Medicine and Masters in Business Administration from Northwestern University - Kellogg School of Management, with a concentration in Healthcare Management. During her surgical residency in Urology at University of California San Francisco, she utilized her research year to focus on innovations in telemedicine and then served as chief resident with significant contributions to clinical quality improvement. Dr. Brown then completed her Andrology Fellowship at Medical College of Wisconsin, furthering her expertise in male fertility, microsurgery, and sexual function.

Her dedication to caring for patients with compassion, understanding, as well as a unique ability to make guys instantly comfortable discussing anything from sex to sperm makes her a renowned clinician. In addition, her passion for innovation in healthcare combined with her business acumen makes her a formidable leader in the field of men’s health.

Dr. Brown is an avid adventurer; summiting Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania (twice!) and hiking the incredible Torres del Paine Trek in Patagonia, Chile. She deeply appreciates new challenges and diverse cultures on her travels. She lives in Denver with her husband, two children, and beloved Bernese Mountain Dog. You can find Dr. Brown on LinkedIn for more information.

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