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How to Treat Headaches From Viagra and Cialis

Kelly Brown MD, MBA

Reviewed by Kelly Brown MD, MBA

Written by Geoffrey C. Whittaker

Published 06/24/2019

Updated 04/15/2024

Have you taken  brand name Cialis or Viagra and felt like you had a hangover? That “Viagra hangover” might actually be a headache from Viagra, and it’s a common side effect of this and other medications for erectile dysfunction. 

Men looking for answers about their apparent Cialis headache (a tadalafil headache if you’re using generic Cialis, or a sildenafil headache if you’re using generic Viagra) will unfortunately have those suspicions confirmed by googling “does Cialis cause headaches;” but why they happen and how to prevent them requires a bit of explaining.

Below, we dive into the how and why headaches from Viagra, Cialis and Levitra can occur, as well as what you can do to treat and prevent headaches from ED medication.

Does Viagra give you a headache? It can, according to the FDA. Clinical trials reported that headache was actually the most common side effect of Viagra, which can create the right environment for headaches through its ability to widen blood vessels.

Headaches are a common side effect of erectile dysfunction medications such as sildenafil (the active ingredient in Viagra®), tadalafil (Cialis®) and vardenafil (Levitra®), with about 25 percent of men prescribed sildenafil reporting some level of headache after using their medication.

Like many other side effects of Viagra, headaches can become more common if you use a high dose of the medication or if you use Viagra, Cialis or Levitra frequently.

Why does Viagra cause headaches? Well, technically because it’s working correctly.

Sildenafil, tadalafil and other treatments for ED all belong to a class of medications called phosphodiesterase type 5 or PDE5 inhibitors, which dilate the blood vessels that supply blood to the erectile tissue inside your penis, making it easier for you to get and maintain an erection.

While ED medications are used to increase blood flow to your penis, they can also increase blood flow in other areas of your body. For example, some phosphodiesterase inhibitors are used to treat a form of high blood pressure in the arteries of your lungs called pulmonary hypertension.

These changes in blood flow may play a role in the development of headaches. Still, experts  aren’t entirely clear about  why Viagra and similar drugs trigger headaches in so many men.

Most of the time, headaches from Viagra and other ED medications will gradually become less severe over the course of a few hours.

But factors like dosage and whether you took long-lasting ED drugs may cause symptoms to persist for longer.

Headache pain after you take Viagra or other ED medications may occur while the medication is active in your body, including shortly after taking it. You may also experience some discomfort after the medication stops working.

It’s worth pointing out that despite being a common side effect, headaches only affect a small percentage of men who use Viagra and other PDE5 inhibitors to treat ED.

In clinical trials of Viagra, between 16 and 28 percent of men reported developing headaches, with the rate increasing alongside Viagra dosage. Similar trials of Cialis found that 11 to 15 percent of men reported experiencing headaches during treatment.

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The good news is that it’s usually possible to either prevent headaches from ED medications, or to limit their severity. 

You may have heard about treating erectile dysfunction with aspirin — you can learn more about the connection in our guide. 

Below, we’ve shared some tips and techniques that you can use to prevent headaches from affecting your sexual pleasure and resulting from ED medication. 

Try a Lower Dose of Your Medication

Clinical trials of Viagra, Cialis and other treatments for ED show that headaches tend to become more common as the prescribed dosage increases. This is also true of other Viagra side effects, such as facial flushing, abnormal vision and back and/or muscle pain.

In one study of Viagra published in the journal Urology in 2000, researchers noted that a relatively high dose of Viagra or another ED medication may cause a higher risk of developing headaches compared to lower doses.

Consider talking to your healthcare provider about adjusting your dosage. For many men, lower dosages of Viagra still produce benefits with a lower risk of serious side effects.

Choose your chew

Keep Yourself Hydrated

Dehydration is a common cause of headaches. You may be more likely to become dehydrated during or after sexual activity, as physical activity can cause you to sweat and lose some of the moisture in your body. This may cause a mild headache even without the use of medications like Viagra.

To reduce your risk of experiencing a headache after using ED medication, drink lots of water or other alcohol-free and caffeine-free beverages. It may also help to take your ED medication with a light meal. Try to avoid eating a high-fat meal with Viagra, as fat can prevent absorption and stop your medication from working effectively.

If Necessary, Use Over-the-Counter Pain Medications

If you often experience headaches after taking ED medication, try taking over-the-counter pain medication. 

Pain reliever medications such as Tylenol® (acetaminophen) don’t interact with ED drugs, making them safe to use at the recommended dose for temporary headache relief.

Similarly, ibuprofen and Viagra have no known drug interactions, making the answer to “can you take ibuprofen with Viagra” a medically- approved “yes.”

Consider Switching to Another ED Medication

Although headaches are reported with all ED medications, certain drugs are more likely to cause headaches and other side effects than others. 

For example, clinical trial data shows that the newer-generation ED medication avanafil (sold as Stendra®) is less likely to cause headaches, flushing and other side effects than older ED drugs such as Viagra and Cialis.

Cialis (and its generic equivalent, tadalafil) is known for its long duration of action, meaning it might not be the best choice if you’re prone to headaches or other side effects.

If you think changing medications could help to relieve your headaches, it’s best to talk to your healthcare provider. They may switch your prescription to a different ED medication that’s less likely to cause headaches or other adverse effects.

Use Other Techniques to Deal With Viagra Headaches

There are some tried-and-true techniques known to relieve discomfort when a headache strikes. Try the following tips the next time you experience a headache after using Viagra or other ED medication:

  • Rest in a quiet, dark room. If your headache persists after sex, try to get some rest in a dark, quiet location. Close the curtains, take it easy and focus on resting until you begin to feel better.

  • Use a cool cloth to relieve headache pain. If your headache doesn’t seem to improve on its own, try applying a cool, damp cloth to your forehead to reduce pain. Close your eyes and try to avoid focusing on the sensations of the headache.

  • Try relaxation techniques to calm your mind. Techniques like deep breathing or meditation may help with headaches. If you have a technique that makes you feel better, don’t feel hesitant to use it if you develop a headache after using ED medication.

For severe headaches, contact your healthcare provider. It’s rare for ED medication to cause a severe migraine headache. If you have a very intense headache that doesn’t get better over time, it’s best to contact your healthcare provider.

It’s important to seek medical attention if your headache is accompanied by changes in your speech, movement or balance, if you have a severe headache that comes on very suddenly, or if you feel as if you have the worst headache of your life.

In addition to headaches, ED medications such as Viagra can cause other side effects, including some that may affect your wellbeing and quality of life. 

In rare cases, Viagra and other ED medications may cause issues such as blurred vision, loss of vision, hearing loss, nasal congestion and feelings of dizziness or lightheadedness, indigestion or chest pain. 

Inform your healthcare provider if you develop any persistent or severe side effects after using Viagra.

While these side effects may sound alarming, the overwhelming majority of men who take ED medications such as Viagra, Cialis and Stendra either don’t develop side effects, or only experience minor side effects. 

People with a history of cardiovascular disease, heart problems, a previous heart attack, as well as those currently using nitrates like nitroglycerin or other medications for pulmonary arterial hypertension should speak with a healthcare professional about these conditions before accepting a prescription for ED medication.

Our guide to what to expect from ED medication explains more about potential side effects of ED drugs, interactions and other issues that you should be aware of before using any type of medication to treat erectile dysfunction. 

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Headaches are a known side effect of ED medications, with research showing that they affect between 16 and 28 percent of men who use Viagra.

If you often get a headache after using Viagra, Cialis or their generic equivalents, try talking to your healthcare provider. They may suggest adjusting your dosage or switching to a newer ED medication that’s less likely to cause side effects, such as Stendra.

Concerned about your sexual performance? We offer a large range of ED treatments, including prescription medications available after an online consultation with a healthcare provider. 

9 Sources

  1. Lin, G.L., Lee, J.T., Peng, G.S. & Yang, F.C. (2014). Sildenafil can induce the onset of a cluster headache bout. Canadian Urological Association Journal. 8 (5-6), E378–E380. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4039608/
  2. Dhaliwal, A. & Gupta, M. (2021, June 25). PDE5 Inhibitors. StatPearls. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK549843/
  3. VIAGRA® (sildenafil citrate) tablets, for oral use. (2014, March). Retrieved from https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2014/20895s039s042lbl.pdf
  4. CIALIS (tadalafil) tablets, for oral use. (2011, October). Retrieved from https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2011/021368s20s21lbl.pdf
  5. Moreira, S.G., Jr, et al. (2000). Side-effect profile of sildenafil citrate (Viagra) in clinical practice. Urology. 56 (3), 474-6. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10962318/
  6. Arca, K.N. & Halker Singh, R.B. (2021). Dehydration and Headache. Nature Public Health Emergency Collection. 25 (8), 56. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8280611/
  7. STENDRA™ (avanafil) tablets, for oral use. (2012, April). Retrieved from https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2012/202276s000lbl.pdf
  8. Headache. (2019, October 6). Retrieved from https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/003024.htm
  9. Sildenafil. (2018, January 15). Retrieved from https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a699015.html
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 is a founding member of Posterity Health where she is Medical Director and leads 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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