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Does Cialis® Expire? Shelf Life of Cialis Explained

Kelly Brown MD, MBA

Reviewed by Kelly Brown, MD

Written by Rachel Sacks

Published 09/26/2021

Updated 03/05/2024

You’re experiencing a case of erectile dysfunction (ED) — it happens to many guys — and find a package of Cialis® in your medicine cabinet, shoved behind the toothpaste and an empty can of shaving cream you’ve been meaning to toss. Score!

You’re about to pop one in your mouth when you realize you don’t know how old those pills are. They could be a week old, or you could have gotten them the last time you deep-cleaned your bathroom. Which prompts the question: Does Cialis expire?

Cialis is one of the most popular medications for the treatment of erectile dysfunction. But if it’s been a while since you’ve used it for erectile dysfunction, those once-potent pills may not be as strong as they used to be.

We’ll explain the Cialis shelf life and what happens if you take expired tadalafil (the generic version and active ingredient of Cialis).

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Does tadalafil expire? And does Cialis lose effectiveness over time?

Let’s start with the second question first. Compared to other PDE5 inhibitors, Cialis lasts longer.

On average, a 20-milligram (mg) dose of Cialis or generic tadalafil can treat erectile dysfunction for up to 36 hours, compared to four to five hours for most ED medications. There’s even a lower tadalafil dosage available for daily Cialis use.

This has made Cialis the least “typical” erectile dysfunction medication. In other words, there’s really no typical dosage, and effectiveness varies among age ranges.

Despite its long-lasting efficacy, how Cialis works is similar to that of other PDE5 inhibitors. These medications increase blood flow to the penis for stronger erections.

It’s important to note that, like other PDE5 inhibitors, tadalafil is only effective if you experience sexual stimulation.

Although we know how long Cialis lasts (or how long the medication stays in your system), it’s unclear how long the shelf life of Cialis is.

But — to answer the first question — Cialis eventually expires. All medications have an expiration date and could be less effective (or even dangerous) after that.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires all prescription and over-the-counter medications to have an expiration date printed on their packaging. The expiration date is the last day the medication’s potency and safety are ensured, according to the manufacturer.

You can usually find the expiration date on the medication’s label. It may begin with “EXP” or something similar.

If you find Cialis or another medicine left in its packaging untouched for several months, check the expiration date before using it.

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We get it: Regular sexual activity and maintaining a healthy, active sex life are important. However, using expired medication is never recommended — and Cialis is no exception.

The FDA warns against using expired over-the-counter or prescription drugs for several reasons:

  • They may be less effective. Over time, the chemicals in a medication may break down and become less effective. You may not notice the same effects when using it.

  • Some expired medications can be risky. Some medications become less safe to use after they expire. For instance, bacterial growth on expired drugs could cause health issues if ingested.

You may be more at risk of experiencing side effects if you take Cialis or generic tadalafil after it expires. Common side effects of Cialis include:

  • Headache

  • Dyspepsia (indigestion)

  • Back pain

  • Myalgia (muscle pain)

  • Nasal congestion

  • Flushing

If you experience severe or persistent side effects after taking expired Cialis, seek medical advice from your healthcare provider as soon as possible.

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To get the most out of your Cialis prescription before it expires, you should know how to store the medication correctly.

Here’s how to properly store Cialis and other prescription medications:

  • Store Cialis in a cool, dry place. Good spots to store Cialis include your bedside table or dresser drawer, inside your closet or in a kitchen cabinet far from any heat or water sources. Avoid storing your medication in a location with lots of natural light, heat, air or moisture, as this may damage your medication.

  • Don’t store Cialis in the bathroom. Heat and moisture, both of which are common in a bathroom setting, can damage medication and make it go bad faster.

  • Keep Cialis out of reach of children. Cialis and other ED medications aren’t suitable for children. If kids live in your home, store Cialis or any other medication out of their sight, ideally in a locked cabinet or medicine box.

  • Keep Cialis inside its original container. Avoid storing Cialis inside a pill organizer or another type of dispenser. Instead, keep it inside its original container and take each Cialis tablet out as needed.

Discovering your Cialis prescription has expired can be disappointing, but it’s better to toss it than use it after the expiration date. Yep, there are even proper ways to get rid of expired medication.

Cialis isn’t on the FDA’s flush list, meaning it can be disposed of in the trash and doesn’t need to be flushed down the toilet.

You can dispose of Cialis and other expired drugs by bringing them to a drug take-back location.

If there are no drug take-back locations near you, follow these steps to dispose of expired Cialis or other medication in your home:

  • Mix the medication with an unappealing substance. This prevents other people from accessing it. Mix unused tablets or capsules with dirt, cat litter or coffee grounds. But don’t crush the pills first, as you don’t want to get the residue on surfaces in your home.

  • Store the mixture in a sealed container. Place the mixture in a sealed plastic bag or secure lidded container.

Dispose of the container in your household trash. Then take out the trash as usual. Make sure to scratch out your name and other personal information from the label before disposing of your medication’s packaging.

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Maybe you haven’t needed to reach for your once-handy pills in a while. Or perhaps you came across a half-empty package of Cialis shoved in the back of your medicine cabinet. In any case, you might be wondering, Does Cialis expire?

Yes, Cialis does expire. Here’s what to remember:

  • Cialis is one of the longest-lasting erectile dysfunction medications. A typical dosage of Cialis or generic tadalafil lasts up to 36 hours. But like all medications, Cialis can expire.

  • While the shelf life of Cialis is unknown, the FDA requires drug packaging to have an expiration date. This tells you the last day the medication has its fullest potency and safety.

  • You shouldn’t take expired Cialis due to the risk of the medication being less effective. Using meds past the expiration date could also lead to more side effects.

The final word on expired Cialis is that all medications have a shelf life, including tadalafil. Taking tadalafil after the listed expiration date could have risky side effects.

Cialis is just one option for erectile dysfunction. Other treatments include sildenafil (generic Viagra®) and Stendra® (avanafil). These and tadalafil are available as oral tablets or chewable ED hard mints.

11 Sources

  1. CIALIS (tadalafil) tablets, for oral use. (2018, February). Retrieved from https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2018/021368s030lbl.pdf
  2. Frajese, G. V., Pozzi, F., & Frajese, G. (2006). Tadalafil in the treatment of erectile dysfunction; an overview of the clinical evidence. Clinical interventions in aging, 1(4), 439–449. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2699638/
  3. 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/
  4. Don't Be Tempted to Use Expired Medicines. (2021, February 8). FDA. Retrieved from https://www.fda.gov/drugs/special-features/dont-be-tempted-use-expired-medicines
  5. Gikonyo, D., Gikonyo, A., Luvayo, D., & Ponoth, P. (2019). Drug expiry debate: the myth and the reality. African health sciences, 19(3), 2737–2739. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7040264/
  6. Questions and Answers for Cialis (tadalafil). (2015, August 13). FDA. Retrieved from https://www.fda.gov/drugs/postmarket-drug-safety-information-patients-and-providers/questions-and-answers-cialis-tadalafil
  7. Storing your medicines. (2022, January 29). MedlinePlus. Retrieved from https://medlineplus.gov/ency/patientinstructions/000534.htm
  8. Tadalafil. (2023, April 15). MedlinePlus. Retrieved from https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a604008.html
  9. Drug Disposal. (2020, October 1). FDA. Retrieved from https://www.fda.gov/drugs/disposal-unused-medicines-what-you-should-know/drug-disposal-fdas-flush-list-certain-medicines
  10. Drug Disposal: Drug Take Back Locations. (2022, October 27). FDA. Retrieved from https://www.fda.gov/drugs/disposal-unused-medicines-what-you-should-know/drug-disposal-drug-take-back-locations
  11. Drug Disposal: Dispose "Non-Flush List" Medicine in Trash. (2018, December 20). FDA. Retrieved from https://www.fda.gov/drugs/disposal-unused-medicines-what-you-should-know/drug-disposal-dispose-non-flush-list-medicine-trash
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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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