Drugs That May Cause Erection Problems

By The Rex MD Editorial Team

March 18, 2021

Thanks to modern medicine there are many FDA regulated medications that have proven clinical results. Some of the most influential drugs to be created throughout history include penicillin, vaccines, aspirin, antivirals, and much more. For a large majority of conditions that can affect the human body, there is usually at least one medication available that can help treat or manage symptoms. 

Modern medicine has greatly improved the quality of life and average life expectancy in the past 200 years and has contributed to people living nearly twice as long as they had in the past. Rather than dying of infectious diseases, it's more common to pass due to age-related conditions, cancer, or conditions contracted through specific lifestyle choices. People are now able to have a life after the age of 40, which people in the past were not typically afforded. People are now able to meet their great grandkids, and even have a life after their working years. 

While modern medicine and drugs have been a saving grace to improving the quality of life of millions, drugs aren’t without their downsides. One of these downsides that can affect men specifically is the potential adverse effect of causing erection issues. 

Below is a discussion of a few drugs that may cause erectile problems. If you are experiencing erectile problems, consult a physician, and they can help you determine if your medication is to blame or if you need ED medications, like those from Rex MD, to assist. 

Antidepressants

Antidepressants are an effective means of managing depression. A vast majority of antidepressants are Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRI). These classes of drugs work to help with depression by increasing serotonin levels in the synaptic space between neurons in the brain. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that is associated with mood, and by increasing its availability to binding sites, it can elevate mood and decrease symptoms of depression.

It is thought that SSRIs can lead to erectile dysfunction because of the alteration in serotonin. One proposed theory is that an increase in serotonin causes a decrease in dopamine and testosterone, two vital components in arousal and orgasm. If you experience ED and are taking SSRIs, you should talk with your doctor to see if anything can be done to allow for a better quality of life with the ability to have proper sexual function. 

Antihistamines

The likelihood that you have ever used an antihistamine is high. Antihistamines are effective in helping with allergies. Antihistamines are a drug that selectively block the functioning of histamine in the body, which is a chemical messenger that signals for the body to initiate inflammation. When you experience an allergy, histamine gets released, as the allergen causing the allergy is perceived as a threat. 

It is thought that histamine plays some role in penile erection, and when the functioning of histamine is blocked through an antihistamine, it can decrease one's ability to attain an erection. 

High Blood Pressure Medications

High blood pressure is the silent killer. It's is a condition in which blood pressure is elevated, and this elevation puts strain on your body and heart. This can lead to heart attack and many other life-threatening conditions. Hypertension can effectively be controlled with blood pressure medications, a healthy diet, and exercise. 

Different high blood pressure medications can work in a variety of ways. This includes decreasing blood volume, decreased cardiac output, or through the dilation of blood vessels. Erectile dysfunction can be caused by alterations to blood circulation and blood pressure medications that reduce cardiac output or blood volume, which could make it more difficult to get an erection. 

Opiates

Opiates are drugs that are used to manage pain. There has been controversy over the clinical utilization of opioids due to the highly addictive nature of these drugs. Hydrocodone and morphine are examples of opioids. 

Associations between opiate use and erectile dysfunction have been found in numerous studies. While the exact mechanism is not well understood, it's difficult to say for sure whether or not the opiates are to blame or the chronic pain that the opioids are treating is to blame for the sexual dysfunction.  

Nicotine

Nicotine, unlike the other drugs discussed, is a recreational drug found in cigarettes. The only therapeutic utilization of nicotine is to aid in the cessation of tobacco and nicotine use. Nicotine is a highly addictive drug that can cause narrowing of blood vessels and hypertension. These effects on the circulatory system are what can make nicotine cause erectile dysfunction. During an erection, the penis needs a strong and stable supply of blood to maintain. If you have a sup-optimal blood supply it can result in vascular erectile dysfunction. 

Alcohol

Alcohol is another recreational drug that can impact your ability to attain an erection. In moderation, alcohol poses very little risk to your erectile health, but drinking in excess can. When you drink, alcohol has a suppressive effect on the brain. This slowing of the brain can cause symptoms associated with being drunk, which includes decreased inhibitions, decreases in coordination, and decreases in higher level cognitive abilities. 

Excessive or chronic alcohol consumption has been found to be associated with many different sexual dysfunctions including premature ejaculation, erectile dysfunction, and low libido. 

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy consists of drugs that attempt to target cancerous cells and reduce the size of tumors. While chemotherapy has come a long way, chemotherapeutics are still not without their flaws. Chemotherapy can have negative effects on your body image, hormonal balance, and your overall well being. 

When looking specifically at its effects on male sexual health, erectile dysfunction is amongst the chief sexual side effects of chemo. This is especially true when cancer affects regions of the genitals. 

Xanax

Xanax is a drug used to treat panic and anxiety disorders. Xanax works by enhancing the effects of the neurotransmitter GABA, which decreases the activity of the central nervous system, and can effectively provide relief to those suffering from anxiety or panic disorders. 

Xanax and the conditions it aims to treat are linked to increased risks of developing ED. The exact reason for the effects on your sexual health aren't well understood but the increased risk does appear to exist. 

Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH) Medication

Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH) is a condition in which the prostate is enlarged. The risk of BPH typically increases with age. There are many different treatment options available for BPH, and some of them can increase the chances of ED. 

One of those medications is finasteride, which decreases levels of testosterone in the body. Low testosterone is linked with ED, and finasteride can cause this low-T-associated erectile dysfunction. If you are taking BPH medications and experience ED, you should talk with a doctor as other medications are available. 

One of the alternatives to finasteride is Cialis®. Cialis® is actually a drug that is utilized to treat both ED and BPH. Unlike Viagra®, Cialis® can effectively treat two conditions simultaneously. The fact that Cialis® can treat two conditions makes it a popular medical tool. 

Conclusion: Know Your Medications To Know What Can Cause Erection Problems

In summary, there are many different possible drug-related causes of erectile dysfunction. If you are taking medication and experience erectile dysfunction, you should have a conversation with a physician to determine what solutions are available to you. In some cases, a physician can prescribe a new medication, while other times there may be no suitable alternative. In the case that there is no suitable alternative, a physician may prescribe you ED medication to support normal sexual function. 

REX MD is dedicated to helping men find the right ED medication for you and your situation. Through telemedicine, we connect men to licensed, US-based physicians that can help guide you through your ED options from the comfort of home. 

No matter what your situation, consulting a physician can be insightful and set you on a path to getting past ED and enjoying a healthy sex life again. 

Sources

https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/10035-erectile-dysfunction

https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/004024.htm

https://www.nber.org/bah/spring06/determinants-mortality#:~:text=Dramatic%20changes%20began%20in%20the,was%20particularly%20sharp%20among%20children.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6007725/#:~:text=SSRIs%20Most%20at%20Risk%20for%20Causing%20Sexual%20Side%20Effects&text=Specifically%2C%20an%20increase%20in%20serotonin,a%20role%20in%20achieving%20orgasm.

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/7850330/

https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/high-blood-pressure/changes-you-can-make-to-manage-high-blood-pressure/types-of-blood-pressure-medications

https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-lifestyle/quit-smoking-tobacco/how-smoking-and-nicotine-damage-your-body#:~:text=Nicotine%20is%20a%20dangerous%20and,lead%20to%20a%20heart%20attack.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2917074/

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/cancer/in-depth/cancer-treatment/art-20045422

https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2011/018276s045lbl.pdf

https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/sex-and-the-prostate-overcoming-erectile-dysfunction-when-you-have-prostate-disease-20090331100




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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.