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Is Cialis Over the Counter?

Kristin Hall, FNP

Reviewed by Kristin Hall, FNP

Written by Vanessa Gibbs

Published 05/12/2019

Updated 09/22/2023

You’re with your partner, the lights are low and you’ve pressed play on your “Sexy Time” playlist. There’s just one thing missing: an erection. 

This is where Cialis® comes in. 

Cialis, the brand name for tadalafil, is FDA-approved for the treatment of erectile dysfunction (ED).

One dose of Cialis can prevent ED for a whopping 36 hours — which earned it the nickname the “weekend pill.” Cialis dwarfs Viagra® in comparison, which lasts four hours, max.

That all sounds great, but now for the big question: Can you get Cialis without a doctor’s prescription? The answer: Nope.

Whomp, whomp.

Don’t let that put you off, though. Read on to find out how to get Cialis (it’s easier than you may think), how old you have to be to get it and why you should be wary of over-the-counter (OTC) ED pills.

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Can You Buy Cialis Without a Doctor Prescription?

No, you can’t buy Cialis without a prescription. Though it doesn’t necessarily have to be from a doctor (MD) — some other medical professionals can prescribe medication, such as nurse practitioners.

Yes, we know that might be annoying. 

But Cialis is a serious drug. It’s a phosphodiesterase 5 inhibitor — or, easier to say, a PDE5 inhibitor.

Among other things, it works as a vasodilator. That means Cialis can open up your blood vessels and increase blood flow to your penis. It’s not a magic boner pill, though. You still need sexual stimulation to get hard.

As with most other prescription drugs, it comes with side effects and risks. So it’s important to get medical advice about the right Cialis dosage for you and potential drug interactions to be aware of.

Common side effects of Cialis include: 

  • Headache 

  • Indigestion 

  • Back pain 

  • Muscle aches and pains 

  • Nasal congestion 

  • Flushing 

  • Pain in limbs

And you can’t take Cialis if you take: 

  • Nitrates 

  • Guanylate cyclase stimulators 

  • Poppers 

A licensed healthcare provider will ask about your overall health. Let them know if you have low blood pressure, bleeding problems, heart problems like angina or if you’ve had a heart attack.

There were talks of Cialis making the jump from a prescription medication to an over-the-counter one. But the target date was 2018…and here we are, years later. 

So you may not be able to get Cialis over the counter just yet, but you can get a prescription relatively easily — if the drug is suitable for you. 

The same goes for tadalafil, the generic version of Cialis. You can learn more about tadalafil uses and the ideal tadalafil dosage in our guides.  

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How to Get a Cialis Prescription 

Want to pop a pill when you know you’re gonna get lucky or take a daily Cialis dose so you’re always DTF?

You’ll need a prescription. Here’s how to get one. 

Visit Your Primary Care Provider 

Your primary care provider can be your first point of contact for any and all health issues — including ED.

We know it can be embarrassing to talk about your love life — especially when it’s not going well — but erectile dysfunction is common. It affects about 30 million men in the United States alone. So don’t be afraid to reach out and get treatment. 

Tell your healthcare provider if you’re experiencing the symptoms of ED. They include:

  • Sometimes having trouble getting an erection 

  • Always having trouble getting an erection

  • Having trouble keeping an erection long enough for sexual intercourse  

Remember, you’re highly unlikely to be the first person to bring up penis problems with your provider. In fact, they’ve probably dealt with much more embarrassing issues (*cough* genital warts *cough*). 

That said, we know speaking about ED with a doctor you’ve had for years — perhaps one you’re on friendly terms with — can be a boner-killer in itself. If that’s the case, you can get primary care online.

Meet With a Urologist 

Another way to get a Cialis prescription is to skip your general doctor and go straight to the specialist: a urologist. 

A urologist is a doctor who deals with diseases of the urinary tract — think the kidneys and bladder. They also treat problems with male reproductive organs, including the penis, testes, scrotum and prostate. And yes, that includes ED. 

You might feel more comfortable speaking about your sexual activity — or lack of it — with a healthcare provider you’ve never met before.

Look for an erectile dysfunction doctor or ED clinic in your area to get a Cialis prescription through an in-person visit.

Have an Online Medical Consultation 

Wanna skip the awkward waiting room and face-to-face appointment? Or save time by avoiding schlepping to a doctor’s office and local pharmacy? You’re in luck — Cialis prescriptions are available with an online medical consultation.

You can speak to one of our healthcare providers from home, answer a few questions about your symptoms and get a Cialis prescription with discreet delivery to your door. 

Simple. 

Start an online consultation to get Cialis. We also offer generic tadalafil and other ED treatments, such as Viagra and our Hims chewable hard mints.

Psst. Generic Cialis is cheaper. Wondering how much it’ll set you back? Check out our tadalafil cost guide

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Am I Too Young for a Cialis Prescription? 

When you think of someone with erectile dysfunction, you probably think of an older gentleman. But ED doesn’t discriminate. It can affect men of any age. That means you can experience ED in your 30s — or even your 20s.

Yes, it’s true you’re more likely to get ED if you’re older. But it can be caused by health conditions men of all ages experience, such as:

Unhealthy lifestyle habits may also make ED worse, including: 

So no matter your age, ED can happen. 

Luckily, Cialis can be used by men over 18. And research shows tadalafil is an effective treatment for ED at any age. Phew.

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The Risks of Buying Over-the-Counter “Cialis” 

Maybe you’ve seen an over-the-counter Cialis substitute, and you’re tempted to give it a go.

We don’t want to sound like your mom, but think twice. These so-called substitutes aren’t FDA-approved, and they come with risks. 

While some research suggests certain supplements like arginine (aka L-arginine) can help ED, most herbal remedies don’t have much evidence behind their claims.  

So if you take an herbal supplement that promises to help you get hard, you may find it doesn’t work as well as prescription medication — or, more likely, it doesn’t work at all. 

You’re not just wasting your time and money, though. Some over-the-counter ED drugs come with serious health risks.

In addition to the active ingredients, OTC substitutes may contain hidden substances not listed on the product labels. This poses a risk of serious side effects or interactions with other medications you’re taking.

The FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) keeps a database of tainted sexual enhancement products you can access online — but the agency says this is only a small fraction of them.

Our advice? Skip the substitutes and go for the real thing. Talk to a doc and get a prescription for Cialis or another ED treatment. 

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Getting a Prescription for Cialis 

Trouble getting hard? Cialis can help. But for that, you’ll need a prescription from a licensed medical provider. 

Here’s what you need to know: 

  • You can’t get Cialis without a prescription. Speak to your primary care provider, a urologist or a licensed provider to get Cialis or any other prescription ED pills. 

  • You can get Cialis with an online medical consultation. You don’t need to leave home to get a prescription. Speak to a medical professional and get Cialis online. 

  • OTC Cialis substitutes come with health risks. They may contain hidden active ingredients or simply not work. 

If you’re considering Cialis, you can learn about how Cialis works and the side effects of Cialis in our guides.

And remember, if the drug isn’t suitable for you, other erectile dysfunction treatments are out there. Learn how ED medications work to brush up on your options.

9 Sources

  1. Highlights of Prescribing Information. (n.d.). https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2018/021368s030lbl.pdf
  2. Huang, S. A., & Lie, J. D. (2013). Phosphodiesterase-5 (PDE5) Inhibitors In the Management of Erectile Dysfunction. P & T : a peer-reviewed journal for formulary management, 38(7), 407–419. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3776492/
  3. Dhaliwal, A., Gupta, M. (2023, April 10). PDE5 Inhibitors - StatPearls. NCBI. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK549843/
  4. Chang, J., Lizer, A., Patel, I., Bhatia, D., Tan, X., & Balkrishnan, R. (2016). Prescription to over-the-counter switches in the United States. Journal of research in pharmacy practice, 5(3), 149–154. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4966231/
  5. Erectile Dysfunction (ED). (n.d.). https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/urologic-diseases/erectile-dysfunction/all-content
  6. What is Urology? (n.d.). https://www.urologyhealth.org/urology-a-z/what-is-urology
  7. Coward, R. M., & Carson, C. C. (2008). Tadalafil in the treatment of erectile dysfunction. Therapeutics and clinical risk management, 4(6), 1315–1330. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2643112/
  8. Rhim, H. C. et al. (2019). The Potential Role of Arginine Supplements on Erectile Dysfunction: A Systemic Review and Meta-Analysis. The journal of sexual medicine, 16(2), 223–234. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/331065420_The_Potential_Role_of_Arginine_Supplements_on_Erectile_Dysfunction_A_Systemic_Review_and_Meta-Analysis
  9. Tainted Sexual Enhancement Products. (n.d.). https://www.fda.gov/drugs/medication-health-fraud/tainted-sexual-enhancement-products
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.

Kristin Hall, FNP

Kristin Hall is a board-certified Family Nurse Practitioner with decades of experience in clinical practice and leadership. 

She has an extensive background in Family Medicine as both a front-line healthcare provider and clinical leader through her work as a primary care provider, retail health clinician and as Principal Investigator with the NIH

Certified through the American Nurses Credentialing Center, she brings her expertise in Family Medicine into your home by helping people improve their health and actively participate in their own healthcare. 

Kristin is a St. Louis native and earned her master’s degree in Nursing from St. Louis University, and is also a member of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners. You can find Kristin on LinkedIn for more information.

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