Sex, Drugs, and Rockin’ Good Health – T Nation Content

by Chris Shugart

The Cialis Experiment

Erection drugs do what they claim, but do they have other health benefits? Let’s find out.

Talking to your doc about sex drugs is the second most awkward thing that happens in a doctor’s office. (If you’re over 40, you know what the number one most awkward situation is.) So, when I decided to experiment with tadalafil (Cialis), I didn’t talk to my doctor. I went online and bought some off the gray market.

The only drawback? I was only able to get 20 mg tablets. I wanted 5 mg tablets, what’s commonly known as “daily” Cialis. So, chop-chop-chop went the pill-splitter. I turned 20 tablets into 80 five-milligram doses, enough to last me almost a year because I wasn’t even going to take it daily.

Here’s the fun part: tadalafil is a drug for erectile dysfunction. I do not have ED. Things are fine down there, really. No, I wanted to use the drug for its potential health benefits.

How Tadalafil Works

Tadalafil/Cialis is a cousin to sildenafil/Viagra. Both are PDE5 inhibitors. It works in basically the same way, only tadalafil’s effects kick in faster and last longer. Instead of lasting about 4 hours, tadalafil lasts 36 hours, maybe longer. Some call it the “weekender pill” because you can pop one on Friday night and achieve high-performance erections through Sunday afternoon.

It works like this:

During sexual stimulation, nitric oxide (NO) is released in the corpus cavernosum of the penis. NO activates the enzyme guanylate cyclase, which increases cGMP levels. cGMP causes the smooth muscles in the corpus cavernosum to relax, which allows blood to flow into the penis. Scientists call this a “woody.”

Now, here comes the “villain” – PDE5.

That’s an enzyme that breaks down cGMP and kiboshes the erection process. That’s supposed to happen after carnal activities, but in men with erectile dysfunction, PDE5 activity may be too high, leading to excessive cGMP. In other cases, reduced NO production or impaired guanylate cyclase activation causes low cGMP levels: not enough cGMP to counteract PDE5’s cockblocking activity.

But here comes tadalafil to save the day! Our hero inhibits the action of PDE5, preventing the breakdown of cGMP. So, cGMP levels stay elevated and so does your lap rocket.

The OTHER Benefits of Low-Dose Tadalafil

So how is all this related to good general health? Well, despite exercise and a good diet, certain health issues can arise as you age, and tadalafil may help. Let’s review those and talk about some “off label” benefits of tadalafil:

  1. Benign Prostatic Hypertrophy: Your prostate gland keeps growing as you age. BPH isn’t cancerous but it makes you a slow urinator due to the prostate pressing against the urethra and affecting pee-pee flow. Since tadalafil increases cGMP levels, it leads to smooth muscle relaxation in the prostate and bladder neck. Tadalafil helps alleviate BPH symptoms by reducing pressure on the urethra, which passes through the prostate. The standard dose of tadalafil for BPH is 5 mg, the same low daily dosage used for ED.
  2. Blood Pressure: Since tadalafil relaxes the smooth muscle cells in the walls of blood vessels, it widens them (vasodilation) which might help keep blood pressure in check.
  3. Estrogen Control: One study found that 10 mg. and 20 mg. doses of tadalafil, taken about ten times a month, significantly reduced estradiol levels. But this only seemed to work in men who weren’t fat. (Fat guys have higher aromatase levels and convert testosterone to estradiol easily.) Lower doses might help keep estrogen under control.
  4. Workout & Sports Performance: There aren’t many studies on this, but the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) consider tadalafil a performance-enhancing substance. PDE-5 inhibitors increase the “pump” in the gym and may mildly boost testosterone. There might be some endurance-boosting effects as well.

What You Should Do

You should definitely not take any drug without a doctor’s order. Tadalafil, like all drugs, has potential side effects and contraindications, and I’ll let you Google them. Personally, I’m going to experiment with taking 5mg every two to three days. Some progressive experts think doctors may someday recommend tadalafil for general health benefits. I don’t want to wait.

By the way, I threw all this evidence at my doctor and told him I was already self-prescribing. He said he’d like to see larger studies… but he wrote the script anyway. So, no more gray market for me.

Other Things to Consider

First, if you have any conditions requiring serious treatment, get that treatment.

Second, tadalafil doesn’t cure BPH; it only treats the symptoms. We need to show our prostates some daily love by taking P-Well (Buy at Amazon). Its ingredients help protect prostate cells from oxidative stress and inflammation. It also boosts NO for stronger erections. Think of it as a “multivitamin” for overall male sexual health.


Third, if you’re going to use a natural T booster, choose one that doesn’t enlarge the prostate. Longjack is shown in studies to boost T without prostate enlargement (or testicular shrinkage). It also improves erectile harness. Omega-Man (Buy at Amazon) contains the high-absorption version of Longjack.

Buy Omega-Man at Amazon

Finally, remember that the most important thing you can do to prevent all the problems that tadalafil may be able to help is to exercise, eat well, not be fat, and supplement wisely. If you’re already doing all of that, but you can’t seem to stop aging, consider tadalafil.

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