Around 25% of all erectile dysfunction is caused by medication according to one Harvard report. However, some medications list erectile dysfunction as a possible side effect even though it’s actually caused by the underlying issue the medication is addressing. Always read the patient info that comes with a new prescription, and talk to your doctor about side effects and contraindications (reasons why you shouldn’t take a specific medication).
Types of medication that can cause erectile dysfunction include:
- Antidepressants and anti-anxiety medication
- Medication for Parkinson’s disease
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
- Medication for prostate cancer
- Muscle relaxants
- Medication for high blood pressure
- Chemotherapy drugs
High blood pressure medicines and ED
Having high blood pressure is a risk factor for erectile dysfunction, but did you know high blood pressure treatments can cause ED as well? Here’s the scoop on some common medications prescribed to treat high blood pressure (also called hypertension), and how likely they are to cause ED.
Amlodipine and ED: calcium channel blockers like Amlodipine, which lower your blood pressure by blocking calcium from entering your heart and arteries, rarely cause erectile dysfunction.
When it comes to angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors like lisinopril, ED is occasionally reported but is not a statistically significant side effect of the medication.
Does Losartan cause ED? No. In fact, the angiotensin II receptor blocker (ARB) Losartan has been found to improve the sexual function of men with hypertension.
When taking a high dose (greater than 50mg) of the diuretic hydrochlorothiazide, ED is more likely to be reported as a side effect. Reducing the dose or switching to a different medication is an option.
And for men taking the beta blocker metoprolol, ED was again frequently reported as a side effect.
Researchers have discovered, though, that some of these cases might actually be psychological erectile dysfunction. One study found that for men taking beta blockers, ED was reported more frequently by those who were told it was a possible sexual side effect than by those who weren’t.
Erectile dysfunction and high cholesterol medicines
We’ve already talked a bit about the link between high cholesterol and erectile dysfunction. But like with high blood pressure, there is also a link between treatments for high cholesterol and ED.
Wondering about atorvastatin and ED? Statins are medications commonly prescribed to treat high cholesterol. For men who take the atorvastatin Lipitor, ED is rarely reported as a side effect. A 2014 study found that statins could possibly make erectile dysfunction worse if you already had it; that same study also found that ED tended to improve over time in men who were taking statins for their high cholesterol.
More research is definitely needed before we have a clearer understanding of how statins and ED go together.
Antidepressants and erectile dysfunction
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) like Prozac are the most commonly prescribed antidepressants. They treat depression and anxiety by increasing levels of serotonin in the brain, but can cause sexual side effects for both men and women.
If you’re taking Prozac and otherwise responding well to it, erectile dysfunction doesn’t have to get in the way of your treatment. One option is to talk to your doctor about adding a second medication like Wellbutrin (bupropion), which is often prescribed to help mitigate antidepressant side effects like sexual dysfunction and weight gain. ED pills like Viagra or Cialis can also alleviate SSRI-induced erectile dysfunction.
Alternatively, it might be worth switching to an entirely different medication. Antidepressants that don’t cause erectile dysfunction, or at least are less likely to than SSRIs, include Wellbutrin (bupropion), Remeron (mirtazapine), Viibryd (vilazodone), Trintellix (vortioxetine and serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors.
If you’re medically treating your anxiety and experiencing erectile dysfunction, Xanax can be another culprit. Xanax is a fast-acting benzodiazepine medication and isn’t prescribed the same way as antidepressants, which are normally taken daily. Instead, Xanax is taken as-needed and usually for a short period of time. After you’ve taken it, Xanax remains in your body for up to 15 hours. That means it should have a more temporary impact on your ability to get an erection. However, if you’re prescribed Xanax and struggling with ED, we still suggest talking to your doctor. They might recommend finishing your treatment or switching to another medication.
Does Adderall cause impotence?
Adderall is a stimulant medication prescribed to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD. It’s an effective medication that can help you regain your focus, but can cause sexual side effects in those who take it.
Adderall contains amphetamine and dextroamphetamine, so it’s also possible to develop ED while taking other ADHD medications with these ingredients. If you need your prescription medication to function but don’t want to deal with unwanted side effects, you have options.
If you’re not taking extended-release medication (Adderall XR), it’s likely that you feel the effects of your pill more at specific times of the day. Scheduling sex around the time before your take your medication, or modifying your dosage on days you want to have sex, is one way of fighting Adderall-induced ED. Prescription ED medications like Viagra can also be helpful in treating erectile dysfunction caused by Adderall.
Can recreational drugs cause ED?
Recreational drug use changes how your body works and can cause lasting damage, including erectile dysfunction. By “recreational drug,” we mean illegal drugs, misused prescription drugs like Adderall and legal drugs like tobacco products.
Because drugs all impact the body in different ways, the ways they can contribute to erectile dysfunction are different, too. For example, the nicotine in tobacco products can keep blood from reaching your penis while heroin or barbiturates can decrease your libido.
It’s important to let your doctor know about drug use when you’re getting help for ED. Doctors aren’t here to judge you, but to help you make the best choices for your body. Without knowing the full picture, medical professionals can’t help you as effectively.