What Medications Cause Erectile Dysfunction?
Reviewed by Angela Sheddan, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
Wondering what medications cause erectile dysfunction? We rounded up a few to be aware of.
Dealing with erectile dysfunction (ED) simply isn’t a great time. The condition is defined as not being able to achieve an erection firm enough for satisfactory sexual performance, and it can negatively impact your sex life.
Finding a treatment for erectile dysfunction may (understandably) be a priority for many men.
Knowing the cause of your erectile dysfunction can help you narrow down which treatment is best for you. There can be several causes of ED, including things relating to mental health, lifestyle habits and physical health. Certain medications can even cause erectile dysfunction.
What medications cause erectile dysfunction? Keep reading to learn more about the drugs that cause erectile dysfunction.
What Medications Can Cause Erectile Dysfunction?
Many common medications affect your cardiovascular and nervous systems, potentially causing ED as a sexual side effect. Others can affect your brain and make it more difficult to become aroused or sexually stimulated.
Erectile dysfunction caused by a medication or other substance may be referred to as drug-induced erectile dysfunction.
Some medications prescribed by a healthcare provider may cause sexual side effects like ED. Prescribed drugs that cause erectile dysfunction can either increase the risk of erectile dysfunction on their own or when combined with other ED causes, such as cardiovascular disease.
Below, we’ll go over what medications cause erectile dysfunction.
Many commonly used psychiatric drugs — such as antidepressant medications — can cause sexual side effects, including erectile dysfunction.
Referred to as antidepressant-induced sexual dysfunction, people may experience sexual side effects, including less desire for sex, delayed orgasm, delayed ejaculation and ED.
This guide on antidepressants and erectile dysfunction goes into more detail on antidepressant-induced sexual dysfunction.
Other psychiatric medications that cause erectile dysfunction are anti-anxiety medications and antipsychotic drugs. Antipsychotic medications are used to treat psychosis, such as schizophrenia, severe depression and some forms of bipolar disorder.
Several psychiatric drugs can potentially cause ED, whether antidepressant-induced sexual dysfunction or as a side effect of antipsychotic medications. These include:
High Blood Pressure Medications
High blood pressure and erectile dysfunction can be a tricky situation to deal with. Why? While some high blood pressure medications can cause erectile dysfunction, high blood pressure itself can also be a cause of ED.
High blood pressure affects blood flow throughout the entire body — including to your penis, as healthy blood flow is necessary for erections.
On the other hand, high blood pressure medications are thought to cause ED by lowering blood pressure and the volume of blood entering the penis.
Different types of medications used to treat high blood pressure include hydrochlorothiazide (HCTZ), angiotensin-converting-enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs), beta-blockers and diuretics ("water pills").
Some high blood pressure medications don’t cause ED as often, including ACE inhibitors, angiotensin receptor blockers and a type called alpha-blockers.
The high blood pressure drugs that most often cause erectile dysfunction include:
Commonly taken for allergies, certain antihistamines are used to treat heartburn by blocking the action of histamine, a chemical in the body involved both in allergic reactions and the regulation of stomach acid.
However, histamine also helps relax smooth muscles, another part of how erections work. When the smooth muscles of the penis relax, this allows the blood vessels to engorge and increases blood flow.
Antihistamines can be purchased over the counter. Those that may cause erectile dysfunction include:
Chemotherapy and other hormonal drugs — like those used for the medical treatment of prostate cancer — can cause erectile dysfunction.
These medications have anti-androgenic effects, meaning they block the action of testosterone or lower testosterone. Though this can slow the growth of a cancerous tumor, it can also increase the risk of erectile dysfunction.
Drugs used in chemotherapy and other hormonal medicines that cause erectile dysfunction include:
Drugs often used in social settings or recreationally — both legal and illegal — can cause erectile dysfunction in different ways.
Some, like alcohol, can affect blood pressure or cause the narrowing of blood vessels, both of which restrict the flow of blood to the penis. Others might affect brain signals that affect erectile function.
Recreational drugs that increase the risk of ED include:
Amphetamines, including crystal meth
Barbiturates, such as phenobarbital and Seconal (secobarbital)
ED treatments, delivered
No matter the treatment plan, the best place to start is somewhere.
How to Treat and Prevent ED From Medications
If erectile dysfunction is affecting your sexual performance, talking to a healthcare professional is a good first step to finding a solution. They may recommend ED treatments that enhance sexual performance while allowing you to continue taking potentially life-saving medications.
Your healthcare provider can help you figure out if any medications you’re currently taking are the cause of your ED. They can also rule out other factors like weight, heart disease, smoking or depression.
Oral medications are a common ED treatment, with the most common being phosphodiesterase type-5 (PDE5) inhibitors that relax and widen the blood vessels to promote blood flow. Examples of PDE5 inhibitors include tadalafil (Cialis®), avanafil (Stendra®) and sildenafil (Viagra®).
If the cause of your erectile dysfunction is anxiety or depression, psychotherapy is a treatment option. Several types of therapy are helpful for ED, including sex therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy and counseling.
A Recap on Medication That Causes ED
Erectile dysfunction is a common condition among men of all ages and backgrounds. While there can be many things that cause ED, medications are one possible factor.
What medications cause erectile dysfunction? Most often, antidepressants, antipsychotic medications, high blood pressure medications, antihistamines and recreational drugs can lead to sexual dysfunction. These medications can affect sex drive or sexual stimulation, blood flow, hormones or other factors contributing to sexual health.
If you’re experiencing erectile dysfunction, talk to your healthcare provider to rule out any possible causes, including medications you may be taking. From there, they’ll recommend an ED treatment plan best for your symptoms and conditions.
Connect with a healthcare provider on Hims today.