Vardenafil, also known by the brand name Levitra, is a prescription medication that treats male erectile dysfunction.
Erectile dysfunction is when a man is unable to get or sustain an erection. It usually happens because the arteries that carry the blood to the penis are too narrow.
Vardenafil increases blood flow to the penis.
Its action is similar to that of sildenafil, or Viagra, but Viagra lasts between 2 and 4 hours, while Levitra lasts 4 hours.
How does it work?
During a penile erection, the penis fills with blood.
The blood vessels that supply the penis with blood expand, or dilate, and the vessels that take blood away from the penis contract. The two large chambers in the penis, known as the corpus cavernosa, fill with blood.
As the blood accumulates in the penis, an erection results.
Vardenafil belongs to a class of drugs called phosphodiesterase type-5 (PDE5) inhibitors. A PDE5 inhibitor stops PDE5 from constricting the arteries.
By relaxing the arteries, vardenafil enhances blood flow when a man is sexually aroused.
The active ingredient works on the chain of reactions within the penis during arousal.
When a male is sexually aroused, nitric oxide is released into his penis, and this triggers a chain of reactions.
This causes an enzyme, guanylate cyclase, to produce cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cGMP).
cGMP regulates the contraction and dilation, or expansion, of blood vessels that carry blood to and from the penis. The chemical reaction causes the vessels that supply the penis to dilate, while those removing blood from the penis contract.
Phosphodiesterase-5 (PDE5), another enzyme breaks down or destroys cGMP.
When cGMP is destroyed, the blood vessels return to their normal size, effectively ending the erection. Vardenafil stops PDE5 from destroying cGMP. In this way, it allows cGMP to work for longer. As a result, it helps prolong an erection.
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