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Cialia, Viagra, Levitra in Bodybuilding

We have all seen the many commercials for Viagra, Cialis, and Levitra.  Drugs treating erectile dysfunction have become mainstream topics and generate huge sales for pharmaceutical companies.  Do you know how they work?  Do you know that they are often used in bodybuilding?  In this article we will take a look at common PDE5 inhibitors and their various uses in and out of bodybuilding.

Table of Contents

What Are PDE5 Inhibitors?

A phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitor (PDE5 Inhibitor) is a drug designed to treat erectile dysfunction.  They are the first oral treatment available for this condition and the first “line of defense” used to treat erectile dysfunction.  PDE5 inhibitors work by increasing blood flow to the penis and therefore resulting in an erection.  They work only during sexual stimulation so without it, the drug is ineffective.  These drugs are not recommended for people who have had recent history of heart attack or stroke, low blood pressure, uncontrolled high blood pressure, unstable angina, severe cardiac failure, severe liver impairment, or end-stage kidney disease requiring dialysis.

Common PDE5 Inhibitors

Tadalafil – This drug is most commonly sold as the brand name Cialis.  It works not only to cause an erection but also to maintain one.  As previously mentioned, sexual stimulation must be present for the drug to work.  Another great effect of tadalafil is to treat the symptoms of enlarged prostate.  It helps to relieve the symptoms of BPH (benign prostatic hyperplasia) such as difficulty beginning the flow of urine, weak stream, and the need to urinate frequently.  This includes people that wake up during the night.  Tadalafil works by relaxing the smooth muscle in the prostate and the bladder.  If using to treat symptoms of BPH, follow directions provided by a doctor. If using for erectile dysfunction, there are two ways to use it.  The first way is to take 30 minutes before sexual activity.  The effect may actually last up to 36 hours.  The second way is to take it regularly.  A doctor will help you decide which is the best way to dose.


Sildenafil – This drug is most commonly sold as the brand name Viagra.  It works to accomplish the same things as Cialis; getting and maintaining an erection.  Sildenafil can also be used to treat high blood pressure in the lungs (pulmonary hypertension).  This product is best taken at least 30 minutes, but no more than 4 hours, before sexual activity.  Taking 1 hour before seems to be the most effective timeframe.  A high-fat meal may delay how quickly the drug begins to work.


Vardenafil – This drug is most commonly sold as the brand name Levitra.  In combination with sexual stimulation, it works to increase blood flow to the penis and help men to get and maintain an erection.  Vardenafil is best taken 1 hour before sexual activity and should only be taken once per day.  Doses need to be taken at least 24 hours apart.  This is one of the drugs that will have its effects enhanced by grapefruit or grapefruit juice so you want to avoid taking it with those.  Vardenafil does not have any other current medical uses.


Uses in Bodybuilding

PDE5 inhibitors are commonly used by bodybuilders and professional athletes as performance enhancing drugs.  The first thing they do is increase blood flow.  PDE5 inhibitors increase blood flow not only to the penis, but to the rest of the body as well.  This will cause a much more intense “pump” and also increase the speed of nutrients being shuttled to the muscles.  Another thing they do is actually increase testosterone levels.  They do this by preventing some conversion from testosterone to estrogen.  This will actually result in higher testosterone and lower estrogen levels.  Bodybuilders must remember that while these products are very effective as a “pre workout” drug, the body can become dependent on them very quickly.  This could potentially lead to someone needing a PDE5 inhibitor for sexual activity.


PDE5 inhibitors are now very popular both in and out of the fitness industry.  Their medical uses have been proven to be safe and effective when used properly.  In bodybuilding they are also effective but can lead to dependence.  Overall, there is much promise with these drugs and more and more treatments are being found with their use.


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Matt Ashlar is a full time dad and an amazing bodybuilder. He has over 10 years of experience in bodybuilding, fitness, TRT and sarms. He's been at the forefront of supplement design and industry leaders. He has trained many bros in the community and helped guys iron out their cycles. He's a true PhD in our industry. He has the knowledge and the looks.

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