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Is Cialis Over the Counter?

Kelly Brown MD, MBA

Reviewed by Kelly Brown MD, MBA

Written by Vanessa Gibbs

Published 05/12/2019

Updated 03/29/2024

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.

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 and physician assistants.

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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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

Choose your chew

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.

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. 

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.

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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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.

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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