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Levitra (Vardenafil) Dosage Guide

Kelly Brown MD, MBA

Reviewed by Kelly Brown, MD

Written by Rachel Sacks

Published 05/23/2021

Updated 03/05/2024

If you’re reading this article, we bet your chances of dealing with erectile dysfunction (ED) are fairly high. You’re also probably looking for a solution ASAP.

Perhaps you’re curious about what your treatment options are. Or maybe your healthcare provider recommended Levitra®, a medication you may not have heard of before and want to learn more about.

Levitra — one of two brand names for the active ingredient vardenafil  — is a common ED treatment that can help you get your mojo back. (Staxyn® is the other brand name vardenafil is sold under.)

Wondering what Levitra dosage is right for you? You’re in good hands. We’ll answer all your questions, go over vardenafil dosages, discuss how this ED drug works and offer pointers for getting the best results.

Levitra, a film-coated oral tablet, is typically available in three dosages:

  • 5-mg tablets, usually the lowest dose

  • 10-mg tablets, the most common starting dose

  • 20-mg tablets, a typical vardenafil max dose

A 2.5-mg (milligram) dosage is sometimes prescribed, depending on various factors, which we’ll cover below.

How Levitra Works

To understand the factors affecting what dose of Levitra you may be prescribed, let’s first take a look at how the medication works.

Vardenafil is a PDE5 inhibitor that improves blood flow to the penis — a vital part of getting an erection — during sexual stimulation.

When you become sexually aroused, your brain sends a message to the blood vessels in your penis to release a chemical called nitric oxide. This enables the formation of cGMP (cyclic guanosine monophosphate) to relax blood vessels in your penis and allow more blood flow.

PDE5 (phosphodiesterase type 5) is an enzyme that breaks down cGMP, thereby decreasing blood flow throughout your body, including to your penis.

Originally developed as treatments for cardiovascular conditions such as angina (chest pain) and hypertension (high blood pressure), PDE5 inhibitors like vardenafil work to block the actions of the PDE5 enzyme to make it easier to get an erection.

Since blood flow is essential to the erection process (among other things), there’s a connection between how the medication works in your body and what else is going on with your body at the time — from your medical history to other medications you use.

Factors That Affect Vardenafil Dosage

As noted, a few factors affect the Levitra or vardenafil dosage you’re prescribed. This includes:

  • Age. A healthcare provider will consider a starting dosage of 5 mg if you’re 65 or older due to increased vardenafil concentrations in elderly men.

  • Health conditions. Men who deal with certain medical conditions, like low blood pressure, Peyronie’s disease (deformed penis shape) or heart disease, for example, may be prescribed a lower vardenafil dosage.

  • Drugs metabolized by CYP3A4. Your dose of Levitra may need adjusting if you’re taking CYP3A4 (cytochrome P450 3A4, another enzyme in the body) inhibitors, such as ketoconazole, itraconazole, erythromycin, ritonavir, indinavir or clarithromycin. Another unlikely CYP3A4 inhibitor? Grapefruit juice.

  • Alpha blocker medication. If you’re taking medication for blood pressure — like alpha blockers — your provider may recommend the lowest starting dose.

Moderate liver impairment. If you have liver problems, especially if you’re 65 or older, 5 mg (the lowest dosage) may be the recommended dose.

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How long do different Levitra dosages last? Does a higher vardenafil dosage of 40 mg last longer than 5 mg?

You might think the higher the dosage, the more effective Levitra will be. However, a vardenafil dosage of 40 mg not only increases the risk of serious side effects but won’t get you the rock-hard, ready-for-action erection you’re looking for.

Despite which dosage you take, vardenafil lasts the same amount of time. Vardenafil can remain active in the body anywhere between five to seven hours.

Ready to “get ur freak on,” Missy Elliott-style? Here’s what you need to know.

Take vardenafil 60 minutes before sexual activity to ensure your erection is ready when it’s go-time. Also, don’t take more than a single dose within a 24-hour period.

If your erection does last longer than four hours (a condition known as priapism), seek medical advice right away.

Levitra can be taken with or without food, so don’t sweat about going out for a bite to eat before the big event.

Seek immediate medical attention if you experience vision loss, which could be a sign of nonarteritic anterior ischemic optic neuropathy (NAION). And let a healthcare professional know if you have a severe allergic reaction.

Drug Interactions

It’s important to discuss any medications or supplements you’re currently taking with your healthcare provider before starting vardenafil. Levitra can potentially interact with numerous medications, including:

  • Alpha blockers and other medications used to manage blood pressure

  • Guanylate cyclase stimulators (riociguat)

  • HIV protease inhibitors

  • Medications that regulate heartbeat

  • Nitrates and nitric oxide donors

  • Alcohol

  • Other PDE5 inhibitors like Viagra or Cialis

Levitra also shouldn’t be used by those undergoing renal dialysis. And if you have a medical condition that heightens your risk of priapism (like leukemia, multiple myeloma or sickle cell anemia), your provider may not prescribe it.

Choose your chew

Though Levitra is an effective treatment for erectile dysfunction, it’s not your only option.

Otherwise known as generic Viagra®, sildenafil is another PDE5 inhibitor that treats erectile dysfunction.

Sildenafil was approved by the FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) to treat erectile dysfunction back in 1998, making it the oldest of the three most widely prescribed ED medications used today.

Nicknamed the “weekend pill,” tadalafil (generic for Cialis®) is the longest-lasting ED drug on the market. Tadalafil has a half-life of 17.5 hours and remains active in the body for up to 36 hours.

Avanafil (and brand-name Stendra®) has one of the shortest half-lives of these common ED drugs. This medication drops to about half its initial concentration in your body within three to five hours.

Many FDA-approved ED medications come as oral tablets. You can also get chewable hard mints with the same active ingredients.

Although Levitra, Viagra and other medications are effective treatments, it’s best to also treat any psychological causes of ED such as depression or sexual performance anxiety. Talk therapy can help you deal with stress or anxiety that may be causing or exacerbating your erectile dysfunction and find healthy ways to manage your mental well-being.

You can work with a licensed mental health professional via online therapy or telehealth counseling.

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If you’re looking for an erectile dysfunction treatment, Levitra is just one of several options available.

What should you know about Levitra dosages? Here’s a recap:

  • Levitra is an FDA-approved treatment for ED containing the active ingredient vardenafil.

  • Vardenafil is available in various doses. A typical dose of Levitra starts at 10 mg daily, but it also comes in 5-mg and 20-mg dosages.

  • Your dosage will be determined based on certain health factors. This includes blood pressure, liver problems, risk of heart attack and use of other medications, which can increase the risk of side effects.

  • It’s recommended to take Levitra about 60 minutes before sexual activity.

Want to know more about Levitra? Our complete guide to vardenafil side effects covers everything you should know about the possible adverse effects of this medication.

You can also explore the cost of Levitra, compare Levitra versus Cialis and browse more erectile dysfunction medications.

8 Sources

  1. FULL PRESCRIBING INFORMATION. (n.d.). accessdata.fda.gov. Retrieved from https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2014/021400s017lbl.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. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3776492/
  3. Evans, J. D., & Hill, S. R. (2015). A comparison of the available phosphodiesterase-5 inhibitors in the treatment of erectile dysfunction: a focus on avanafil. Patient preference and adherence, 9, 1159–1164. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4542406/
  4. Pomeranz H. D. (2006). Can erectile dysfunction drug use lead to ischaemic optic neuropathy?. The British journal of ophthalmology, 90(2), 127–128. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1860153/
  5. Reference ID: 4140287. (n.d.). accessdata.fda.gov. Retrieved from https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2017/020895s049lbl.pdf
  6. Hatzimouratidis K. (2006). Sildenafil in the treatment of erectile dysfunction: an overview of the clinical evidence. Clinical interventions in aging, 1(4), 403–414. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2699643/
  7. Coward, R. M., & Carson, C. C. (2008). Tadalafil in the treatment of erectile dysfunction. Therapeutics and clinical risk management, 4(6), 1315–1330. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2643112/
  8. Katz, E. G., Tan, R. B., Rittenberg, D., & Hellstrom, W. J. (2014). Avanafil for erectile dysfunction in elderly and younger adults: differential pharmacology and clinical utility. Therapeutics and clinical risk management, 10, 701–711. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4155803/
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

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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