How Adderall Affects Erectile Dysfunction

July 1, 2021

While erectile dysfunction can affect men of all ages, prevalence increases as we age. However, a noticeable rise among younger men has piqued the curiosity of epidemiologists and clinicians.

One consideration has been the increase in adderall use among young men. Can adderall cause erectile dysfunction?

What Is Adderall?

Adderall is a prescription medication that's primarily used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), a chronic disorder that includes difficulties paying attention, hyperactivity, and impulsive behaviors. ADHD is a common condition, with more than three millions cases in the United States annually.

Adderall is also sometimes prescribed to treat the sleeping disorder narcolepsy, although it's typically used only after other prescriptions have been tried first. 

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved adderall as a treatment for ADHD in 1996, and the drug is eligible for use in those age six or above. Although adderall has been used to help millions of men and women in the decades since it hit the market, it's possible to form an addiction to adderall, and it's classified as a schedule II controlled substance. This classification is for drugs that have a high potential for abuse and that may lead to a severe psychological or physical dependence. 

How Does Adderall Work?

Adderall is a controlled substance due to its mechanism of action. Adderall is composed of four different amphetamine salts, including dextroamphetamine saccharate, amphetamine aspartate, dextroamphetamine sulfate, and amphetamine sulfate. Due to the effects that these ingredients have on the central nervous system, adderall is considered a stimulant. 

Adderall impacts the central nervous system by increasing the overall number of neurotransmitters such as dopamine and norepinephrine. As a result, the user experiences a significant increase in focus and attention-span, along with a reduction in hyperactivity and impulsive behaviors. 

How Effective Is Adderall?

Adderall is one of the most effective treatments for ADHD, with an efficacy of around 70% in adults and 80% in children. It’s especially effective in children when coupled with behavioral therapy.

As a stimulant, adderall is typically taken first thing in the morning. The effects of the original tablet form of adderall typically last around four hours, and the medication may be taken two or three times daily. More common are extended release capsules, which can last for 10 to 12 hours and will only be taken once a day. Both versions of adderall come in doses ranging from 5 to 30 milligrams and can be increased or decreased as required.  

What Are the Side Effects of Adderall? 

As is the case with just about all prescription medications, there are several side effects associated with adderall. Some of the most common side effects include:

  • Anxiety
  • Cramping
  • Constipation
  • Decreased interest in sex
  • Diarrhea
  • Dizziness
  • Dry mouth
  • Elevated heart rate
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Hallucinations
  • Headache
  • Hoarseness
  • Increase in blood pressure
  • Increase sex drive
  • Insomnia
  • Loss of appetite
  • Restlessness
  • Slowed speech
  • Stomach ache or abdominal pain
  • Vision problems
  • Weight loss

The following side effects are less common but much more severe. In the event that you experience any of the following, you should tell your prescribing clinician immediately. These side effects include:

  • Emotion or mood changes including agitation, aggression, severe mood swings, depression, abnormal thoughts, suicidal thoughts, or paranoia
  • Fever
  • Frequent or prolonged erections
  • Numbness, cold, pain, or skin color changes in fingers and toes
  • Seizures
  • Teeth grinding or chewing movements
  • Uncontrollable movements, spasms, or tics 
  • Unexplained wounds on fingers and toes
  • Uncontrollable outbursts of words or noises
  • Weakness and numbness in limbs

Due to its highly addictive chemical composition, prescribing doctors will often suggest periodically stopping the medication. This is done to see if any positive changes have occurred in behavior and whether the medication can be discontinued. During this time it's typical to experience withdrawal. Adderall has a significant impact on the pleasure center of the brain, and suddenly losing this effect can cause these withdrawal symptoms.

Some of these symptoms may include:

  • Severe fatigue, tiredness, and lack of energy
  • Sleeping problems such as insomnia
  • Severe changes in mood such as depression
  • Panic attacks, anxiety, and irritability
  • Near-insatiable hunger

How Does Adderall Cause Erectile Dysfunction? 

Adderall is known to constrict the blood vessels in the body, including those located in the penis. As a result, this reduction in blood flow may lead to the development of erectile dysfunction in some users. 

However, the effects of adderall vary widely from person to person. Some men may experience erectile dysfunction, a decline in libido, or a general loss of interest in sex.  For other men, it may be the complete opposite and they experience a substantial boost in their sex drive along with intense erections. In fact, sometimes adderall and other stimulants can be prescribed to treat sexual dysfunctions that occur as a side effect of antidepressant medications.

What Is Erectile Dysfunction?

Whether due to taking adderall or as a result of other causes, erectile dysfunction is defined as difficulty achieving or maintaining an erection. For the most part, erectile dysfunction is related to issues with the cardiovascular system. 

Since erections rely on the steady and sufficient flow of blood to the penis, anything that has a negative impact on blood flow can lead to erectile dysfunction. The most common examples are high blood pressure, various heart conditions, and complications from diabetes. Along with these physical causes, erectile dysfunction can also be the result of stress, anxiety, or depression. 

How Do You Treat Erectile Dysfunction?

When it comes to treating the symptoms of ED, there's nothing that's more effective than prescription medications like Viagra® or Cialis® for most guys. These drugs are taken orally and work by releasing the body's natural braking mechanism on the erectile process.

By relaxing the muscles and blood vessels in the penis, more blood is able to flow into the penis, creating an erection firm enough for sex. These erection-inducing effects typically last for about four hours after taking an erectile dysfunction medication like Viagra (sildenafil).

There isn’t any clear indication that adderall interacts negatively with the various medications for erectile dysfunction. If you're experiencing erectile dysfunction while taking adderall, talk to your doctor about a prescription medication, as they're generally acceptable to take at the same time. 

Can You Prevent Erectile Dysfunction? 

There are plenty of lifestyle changes that can help to reduce the risk of developing erectile dysfunction. Some of these include:

  • Eating a balanced diet. Cutting back on saturated fat and sodium will help keep your arteries clear and blood pressure in a healthy range. Eating more fruits and vegetables and fewer processed foods can help you lose excess weight, which is often a contributor to erectile dysfunction.  
  • Getting more exercise. 30 minutes a day of exercise is enough to improve cardiovascular health and reduce the risk of erectile dysfunction. The stronger your heart works, the better.
  • Cut out the bad habits. Drinking excessive alcohol and smoking tobacco are two risk factors for erectile dysfunction. They both negatively impact blood flow and damage the arteries. Cutting back or quitting can help to improve erectile function. 
  • Get enough sleep. Sleep is an extremely important time for your body to rest and repair itself. Make sure that you're getting adequate sleep each night.
  • Reduce stress. Psychosocial issues can be major contributors to erectile dysfunction. If you're feeling stressed, anxious, or depressed, consider seeking therapy to improve your mental health. Addressing these issues will also have a significant impact on sexual function.

The Takeaway: It’s entirely possible for adderall to cause erectile dysfunction; however, the effects of adderall can vary substantially from one person to the next.

If you're taking adderall and experiencing erectile dysfunction, there could be a connection. The best way to find out is to talk to a medical professional, who can help you decide what changes are appropriate.

For some men, prescription ED meds might be the right option. Rex MD can help, and you can get started with a free online consultation today. Click here to get started.


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Disclaimer : This article is for information only and should not be considered medical advice. Always speak with your doctor about your health and the benefits or risks of any treatment or intervention. This information should not be relied on as a substitute for professional medical advice.