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Vardenafil Hydrochloride (Levitra®)

Last Modified: September 13, 2012

Pronounced: var-DEN-a-fil
Classification: Phosphodiesterase Inhibitor

About Vardenafil

Vardenafil is a medication that is taken before sexual activity and allows men with erectile dysfunction (ED) to achieve and maintain an erection. ED or impotence is a condition in which a man is unable to achieve or maintain an erection long enough for sexual intercourse. This can be a result of medical conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, prostate problems, and heart disease, or a side effect of the medications typically taken for these conditions. Personal lifestyle factors such as stress, alcohol and/or tobacco use can also play a contributing role. During surgery or radiation to the pelvic area (including prostate, bladder, and rectal procedures), damage can occur to the nerves that supply the penis. This can result in either temporary or permanent impotence. Some surgeons perform "nerve-sparing" surgeries in an attempt to preserve erectile function. Even in these cases, however, the nerves will suffer some injury, and it can take 18-24 months or longer for erectile function to return. These men should be treated aggressively with oral or injectable medications for ED in order to speed recovery of the nerves and to prevent muscle wasting in the penis.

Facts about vardenafil and cancer therapy related ED

  • Vardenafil is a medication that is taken before sexual activity and allows men with ED to achieve and maintain an erection.
  • Men who take vardenafil will not have an erection without sexual stimulation. This drug is not an aphrodisiac and does not affect libido or desire.
  • After surgery or radiation to the pelvic area, it can take 24 months or more for the nerves feeding the penis to recover. Treatment with vardenafil or other medications can speed nerve recovery and prevent muscle loss in the penis.
  • Vardenafil will not be effective in men who did not have nerve-sparing surgical procedures.

How to take vardenafil

  • Vardenafil is taken by mouth up to once a day, at least 30-60 minutes before sexual activity, and works for up to 4 hours. Your doctor will determine the dose that is best for you. It can be taken with or without food.
  • Some men require dose adjustments to find the dose that works best for them. You should not adjust your dose without talking to your doctor first.
  • Men who take nitrates, such as nitroglycerin, Nitro-Bid, Isordil, or Deponit should not take vardenafil.
  • Men who take Cardura, Hytrin, or Flomax for urinary symptoms should not take vardenafil.

Possible side effects of vardenafil

There are a few side effects experienced with vardenafil. Talk to your doctor or nurse about what you can do to manage these side effects if they occur. They can help you decide what will work best for you.

Headache, facial flushing and upset stomach can occur. Less frequent side effects include blurry vision, a bluish hue to the field of vision, a sensitivity to light, or a sudden loss of vision.

Safety concerns

If you experience any of the following while using vardenafil, you should seek immediate medical attention:

  • An erection lasting more than 4 hours
  • Chest, arm or neck pain, or nausea during sexual activity
  • Sudden loss of vision

Do not take a higher dose of vardenafil than your doctor orders for you.

Remember, vardenafil does not protect against sexually transmitted diseases, nor does it prevent pregnancy.


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