Is erectile dysfunction the side effect of some medications?

Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine

Yes, and it’s a bummer. Some of the very medications prescribed to treat conditions that can contribute to ED might actually cause ED. Take high blood pressure. Untreated, it impairs the inner lining of your arteries, making them less responsive. That makes it more difficult for blood to flow to your penis when you are aroused. But medications to treat your high blood pressure might not help your ED. That’s because some blood pressure medications themselves can have ED as a side effect. Fortunately, not all of them do.

Other medications also have ED as a side effect. Even antihistamines for allergies can cause ED. So can common prescriptions for depression called SSRIs (Prozac is an SSRI). And untreated, depression can affect your sex drive, so it’s a weird Catch-22 when the very drug that helps lift your mood, so you can get in the mood, might interfere with good sex.

Talk to your doctor about the side effects of your medications to see if there are alternatives. Most of the time, there are.
Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
Ironically, the same medications that are saving your life or helping you live healthier could be sabotaging life in the bedroom. It is a fact that erectile dysfunction (ED), or the inability to get and maintain an erection during sex, can be a side effect of many medications you take every day. Antihistamines used to snuff out allergy symptoms and other conditions can cause ED. High blood pressure meds, such as beta blockers, are primary culprits. Antidepressants, too, cause erectile dysfunction. Prostate cancer meds, as well as other cancer medications, can lead to power shortages down under. There is hope, however, for guys: Talk with your doctor about whether ED is a side effect of medication you take. Perhaps he can switch you to another one or lower the dose, so you can return to your old self.

Sometimes it's not the drug that causes erectile dysfunction, it's the disease.  For example, it's well known that up to 50% of diabetic men over the age of 50 have erectile dysfunction.  Diabetes is a bigger problem than just excess sugar in your blood.  Managing your diabetes better can help in all areas of your health!

Another health problem that leads to erectile dysfunction is depression.  The medications often get blamed, but depression itself leads to erectile dysfunction.  It's not a permanent problem, however.

Additionally, blood pressure medications are commonly accused of causing erectile dysfunction.  If that's happening to you, perhaps another medication would work better for you and still control your blood pressure.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.