FREE ONLINE ED ASSESSMENT. Start Here

Revatio vs. Viagra: What's the Difference?

Mike Bohl, MD, MPH, ALM

Reviewed by Mike Bohl, MD

Written by Shannon Ullman

Published 07/18/2019

Updated 01/07/2024

Dealing with sexual dysfunction problems can be an embarrassing yet frustrating experience for men and women because, well, no one wants to underperform in the bedroom.

Many guys deal with erectile dysfunction (ED). It’s actually one of the most common types of male sexual dysfunction, affecting about 30 million men in the United States.

Fortunately, ED is a treatable condition with the use of prescription drugs. 

You’ve likely heard of Viagra® — who can forget those commercials? Containing the active ingredient sildenafil, this popular “little blue pill” is a medication prescribed for ED.

It’s not uncommon for Viagra to be confused with Revatio®. The latter also contains the active ingredient sildenafil. Then there’s the generic version of each, which also each contains slidenafil.

Both Viagra and Revatio are manufactured and sold by the pharmaceutical giant Pfizer. The medications work in similar ways to increase blood flow to certain areas of the body. This means they can lead to similar effects when used as prescribed.

So what’s the difference? Read on for a detailed breakdown of Revatio versus Viagra.

Choose your chew

Add a boost to your sex life with our new chewable formats

Revatio vs. Viagra

What are the differences between these very similar medications? Well, the best way to separate Viagra and Revatio is by dosage and what they’re typically prescribed for.

Viagra is prescribed to men dealing with erectile dysfunction, while Revatio use is FDA approved to treat pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) — a type of high blood pressure in the lungs.

Below, we’ll go over how Viagra and Revatio differ from a functional perspective.

Choose your chew

Add a boost to your sex life with our new chewable formats

Similarities Between Viagra and Revatio

Before looking at how Viagra and Revatio differ, let’s dive deeper into how they’re similar.

Both Viagra and Revatio:

  • Contain the active ingredient sildenafil. Sildenafil is a medication used to treat ED and PAH. It belongs to a class of drugs called PDE5 inhibitors (or phosphodiesterase type-5 inhibitors). These meds inhibit the PDE5 enzyme in the smooth muscle cells of blood vessels. This makes blood vessels widen, letting more blood flow to certain types of tissue.

  • Share similar common side effects. Viagra and Revatio can cause similar side effects, including headaches, nasal congestion, runny nose, flushing, indigestion and, in rare cases, blurred vision, loss of vision and temporary loss of hearing.

  • Can have drug interactions. Both medications may cause drug interactions, when mixed with other medications including dangerous interactions if used with blood pressure medications such as nitrate medications and alpha blockers. They can also have a dangerous interaction if used with nitrite “poppers.”

  • Require a prescription. When being evaluated for a prescription, it’s important to inform your healthcare provider about any medical conditions you currently or previously had.

While they’re both sildenafil-based medications, Revatio and Viagra aren’t taken in the same way. Revatio must be taken every day to treat PAH. On the other hand, Viagra can be taken ad hoc (when necessary or as needed for ED treatment) — but no more than once a day.

With this in mind, be sure to follow your healthcare provider’s instructions on how to take Revatio or Viagra to avoid self-medicating or (possibly) overdosing. 

Before we dive into how Viagra and Revatio are different, let’s discuss what Viagra does.

What Is Viagra and How Does It Work?

As noted, Viagra is a brand-name drug for erectile dysfunction. It comes in tablet form and is available in several doses. This medication is meant to be used as needed and taken 30 minutes to up to four hours before sexual activity.

After four hours, Viagra becomes less effective and may not provide a significant amount of relief from erectile dysfunction.

Research has shown that some men find sildenafil helps with their erections for as little as 20 minutes, while others anecdotally experience the effects for a whole 24 hours — but the official label doesn’t support its effects lasting this long. 

So, if you were wondering how long Viagra lasts, there’s your answer.

What’s interesting about sildenafil is that it wasn’t initially created to treat erectile dysfunction. Pfizer developed it in the late ‘80s as a potential treatment for angina (chest pain). 

During early clinical trials, many participants reported erections while using sildenafil. Sildenafil gained approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1998 for the treatment of erectile dysfunction.

Our guide to how Viagra works goes into more detail about the biological process of getting an erection, as well as how Viagra can make it easier if you’re prone to ED.

Viagra Side Effects

Like any medication, you may experience side effects from taking this ED medication. But it’s better to know upfront, right?

Potential side effects of Viagra may include:

  • Headache

  • Flushing

  • Dyspepsia (indigestion/heartburn)

  • Nausea or upset stomach

  • Nasal congestion

  • Abnormal vision

  • Back pain

  • Myalgia (muscle pain)

  • Dizziness

  • Skin rash

Many of these side effects are more common when Viagra is taken at a moderate or high dose, such as 50 or 100 milligrams.

In rare cases, Viagra and generic sildenafil may cause other side effects, including prolonged or painful erections (referred to as priapism).

Priapism is an extremely rare side effect that requires medical attention. People diagnosed with sickle cell anemia, leukemia and multiple myeloma have a higher risk of developing this condition.

What Is Revatio and How Does it Work?

Now you’re likely wondering: What is Revatio?

Revatio is the second brand name for sildenafil. But unlike Viagra, it’s not FDA approved to treat erectile dysfunction.

Revatio is FDA approved for treating pulmonary arterial hypertension, a type of high blood pressure affecting the lungs’ arteries. 

While Viagra entered the market in the late ’90s, Revatio was approved by the FDA in 2005 as a treatment for PAH.

This medication (and generic Revatio) contains a lower dose of sildenafil than Viagra in each tablet. Each Revatio tablet contains 20 milligrams of sildenafil. In comparison, a Viagra tablet contains 25, 50 or 100 milligrams of the active ingredient.  

So what does this all mean?

It means each individual tablet of Revatio has about one-fifth the amount of sildenafil as the strongest Viagra tablet. Yet, despite the different strengths, these medications are essentially the same drugs producing similar effects in the body.

This also indicates that Revatio can be effective in treating erectile dysfunction.

While the amount of sildenafil per tablet is lower than Viagra, many men with mild or moderately severe ED find their condition is effectively treated with the 20-milligram dose found in Revatio. It is also possible for healthcare providers to prescribe Revatio off label for ED in multiples of 20mg, including 40mg, 60mg, 80mg, and 100mg. These doses approximate the doses of Viagra and can be achieved by taking multiple 20mg tablets at once. But remember, only do this if it’s what your healthcare provider has prescribed.

So although Revatio isn’t FDA approved for ED, it can increase blood flow to your penis, leading to an erection.

Revatio Side Effects

Like Viagra, Revatio sildenafil has some adverse side effects you should be aware of.

Revatio side effects may include:

  • Hypotension (low blood pressure)

  • Vision loss

  • Hearing loss

  • Priapism

  • Vaso-occlusive pain crisis (in patients with sickle cell disease)

Keep reading to find out how Revatio and Viagra differ.

Choose your chew

Sildenafil Chews

The same active ingredients as Viagra®. Starts working in 30 minutes and lasts up to 6 hours.

Tadalafil Chews

Same active ingredient as Cialis®. Starts working in 1 hour and lasts up to 24 hours.

Vardenafil Hard Mints

Exclusively at Hims, starts working in 15 minutes and lasts up to 6 hours. Same active ingredients as Levitra®.

Key Differences of Revatio vs. Viagra

We’ve extensively covered Viagra and Revatio, discussing what they treat, how they work and the potential side effects.

While these two medications are sort of the same, they’re actually different — are we making sense?

To help clear the air, here’s a rundown of the main differences between Revatio and Viagra:

  • Conditions for which they are FDA approved. Viagra is FDA approved to treat erectile dysfunction, whereas Revatio is FDA approved to treat pulmonary arterial hypertension. That said, the medications can each be prescribed off label for other conditions, if a healthcare provider deems it appropriate, including Revatio (and generic Revatio) being prescribed for ED.

  • Dosage. Although both medications contain sildenafil, they’re dosed for different purposes. Viagra dosage ranges from 25 to 100 milligrams per tablet. Meanwhile, Revatio is only available as a 20-milligram oral tablet.

  • Price. Depending on where you buy the medications and your coverage, prices may be different for Viagra vs. Revatio and for generic Viagra vs. generic Revatio.

How to Choose Between Revatio vs. Viagra

At this point, you may be wondering, Which medication is better for me? We’re not healthcare professionals, so we can’t provide a definitive answer or medical advice.

However, we can offer some key information to better prepare you for that conversation with your healthcare provider of choice.

From a purely functional standpoint, Viagra and Revatio can both be used to treat erectile dysfunction because they contain the same active ingredient.

Your healthcare provider can suggest the best dosage to treat your erectile dysfunction symptoms while minimizing uncomfortable side effects.

Check out our guide on how to take Viagra for the best results for more tips and insight.

If you’re not trying to break the bank for ED medications, the generic version of either rmedication may be a good option, and there may be slight differences in pricing between generic Viagra and generic Revatio. Buying generic drugs, in general, lets you access the same benefits as brand-name medications at a significantly lower price per tablet.

For example, we offer generic sildenafil pills through our online telehealth platform at a fraction of the cost of brand-name Viagra, as well as chewable ED hard mints containing sildenafil. 

If you were thinking about skipping these prescription medications for something you can without a prescription, think again.

The FDA advises people to avoid certain male-enhancement products sold through retailers like Amazon and eBay because they may contain dangerous drug ingredients.

You can visit the FDA’s MedWatch page to find the latest reports and safety alerts on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, biologics, medical devices and other FDA-regulated products.

Sildenafil citrate

Get hard for 95% cheaper than Viagra

The Bottom Line on Revatio and Viagra

From the looks of it, Viagra and Revatio are essentially the same except for FDA-approved indication, dosage and price and both can be used as an erectile dysfunction medication.

Reach out to your healthcare provider for advice on sexual dysfunction problems and which medication might be best for you.

Here’s what to keep in mind:

  • Viagra and Revatio contain the same active ingredient (sildenafil) and the brand-name versions are manufactured by the same company. 

  • The medications are brand names for the same ingredient but have FDA approvals to treat different medical conditions. 

  • Viagra is used in specific doses and formulations to treat ED. Revatio is used in specific doses and formulations to treat pulmonary arterial hypertension. However, Revatio can be used for ED at doses of 20mg, 40mg, 60mg, 80mg, or 100mg when prescribed off label.

  • Both Revatio and Viagra increase blood flow and have similar side effects.

  • Any medication that features sildenafil — and other PDE5 inhibitors, such as tadalafil (Cialis®), vardenafil (Levitra®) or avanafil (Stendra®) — has the potential to interact with other medications. This includes drugs for high blood pressure and heart disease.

  • Non-prescription supplements that claim they are treatments for ED should be avoided, as they may contain dangerous ingredients.

If you’re dealing with psychological ED caused by mental health conditions like anxiety or depression, we offer online therapy to help improve sexual performance anxiety.

Worried about erectile dysfunction? You’re not alone. Our detailed guide to the causes of erectile dysfunction and your options for treating it discusses how ED can develop and the steps that you can take to improve your erections and sexual function.

14 Sources

  1. DailyMed - REVATIO- sildenafil citrate tablet, film coated REVATIO- sildenafil citrate injection, solution REVATIO- sildenafil citrate powder, for suspension. (n.d.). Retrieved from: https://dailymed.nlm.nih.gov/dailymed/drugInfo.cfm?setid=f158fe10-d5dc-4432-b2c9-fc665401291b
  2. DailyMed - VIAGRA- sildenafil citrate tablet, film coated. (n.d.). Retrieved from: https://dailymed.nlm.nih.gov/dailymed/drugInfo.cfm?setid=0b0be196-0c62-461c-94f4-9a35339b4501
  3. Dhaliwal, A. (2023, April 10). PDE5 inhibitors. StatPearls - NCBI Bookshelf. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK549843/
  4. Drug approval package: Revatio (Sildenafil citrate) NDA #021845. (n.d.). Retrieved from: https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/nda/2005/021845s000_RevatioTOC.cfm
  5. Ghofrani, H. A., Osterloh, I. H. et al. (2006). Sildenafil: from angina to erectile dysfunction to pulmonary hypertension and beyond. Nature Reviews Drug Discovery, 5(8), 689–702. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7097805/
  6. Label. (2018). Food and Drug Administration. Retrieved from https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2018/021845s018lbl.pdf
  7. Label: Viagra (sildenafil citrate). (2014). Food and Drug Administration. Retrieved from: https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2014/20895s039s042lbl.pdf
  8. McCullough, A. R. (2002). Four-Year Review of Sildenafil Citrate. PubMed Central (PMC). Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1476025/
  9. Office of the Commissioner. (2020, December 17). FDA warns consumers to avoid certain male enhancement and weight loss products sold through Amazon, EBay and other retailers due to hidden, potentially dangerous drug ingredients. U.S. Food And Drug Administration. Retrieved from: https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/fda-warns-consumers-avoid-certain-male-enhancement-and-weight-loss-products-sold-through-amazon-ebay
  10. Office of the Commissioner. (2023, October 25). MedWatch: The FDA Safety Information and Adverse Event Reporting program. U.S. Food And Drug Administration. Retrieved from: https://www.fda.gov/safety/medwatch-fda-safety-information-and-adverse-event-reporting-program
  11. Revatio (sildenafil) label. (2014). Food and Drug Administration. Retrieved from: https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2014/021845s011,022473s004,0203109s002lbl.pdf
  12. Sildenafil: MedlinePlus drug information. (n.d.). Retrieved from: https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a699015.html
  13. Smith, B. P. (2023, February 14). Sildenafil. StatPearls - NCBI Bookshelf. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK558978/
  14. Symptoms and Causes of Erectile Dysfunction. (2022, August 29). National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Retrieved from: https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/urologic-diseases/erectile-dysfunction/symptoms-causes
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.

Mike Bohl, MD

Dr. Mike Bohl is a licensed physician and the Director of Scientific & Medical Content at a stealth biotech startup. Prior to joining Hims & Hers, Dr. Bohl spent several years in digital health focusing on patient education. He has also worked in medical journalism for The Dr. Oz Show and Sharecare and has served on the Medical Expert Board of Eat This, Not That!.

Dr. Bohl obtained his Bachelor of Arts and Doctor of Medicine from Brown University, his Master of Public Health from Columbia University, and his Master of Liberal Arts in Extension Studies—Journalism from Harvard University. He is currently pursuing a Master of Business Administration and Master of Science in Healthcare Leadership at Cornell University. Dr. Bohl trained in internal medicine with a focus on community health at NYU Langone Health.

Dr. Bohl is Certified in Public Health by the National Board of Public Health Examiners, Medical Writer Certified by the American Medical Writers Association, a certified Editor in the Life Sciences by the Board of Editors in the Life Sciences, a Certified Personal Trainer and Certified Nutrition Coach by the National Academy of Sports Medicine, and a Board Certified Medical Affairs Specialist by the Accreditation Council for Medical Affairs.

In addition to his written work, Dr. Bohl has experience creating medical segments for radio and producing patient education videos. You can find Dr. Bohl on LinkedIn for more information

Dr. Bohl lives in Manhattan and enjoys biking, resistance training, sailing, scuba diving, skiing, tennis, and traveling. You can find Dr. Bohl on LinkedIn for more information.

Education

  • Bachelor of Arts, Egyptian and Ancient Western Asian Archaeology. Brown University |

  • Doctor of Medicine. |

  • Master of Public Health, General Public Health. |

  • Master of Liberal Arts, Journalism. |

  • Master of Business Administration. | (anticipated 2024)

  • Master of Science, Healthcare Leadership. | (anticipated 2024)

Training

  • NYU Internal Medicine Residency—Brooklyn Community Health Track. |

Certifications

  • Certified in Public Health.

  • Medical Writer Certified.

  • Editor in the Life Sciences.

  • Certified Personal Trainer.

  • Certified Nutrition Coach.

  • Board Certified Medical Affairs Specialist. Accreditation Council for Medical Affairs

  • Digital Storytelling Graduate Certificate.

  • Marketing Management and Digital Strategy Graduate Certificate.

Publications

Read more