If you’ve been diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), your healthcare provider may prescribe an ADHD medication such as Adderall® to treat your symptoms and help you stay focused on tasks.
While Adderall is effective as an ADHD treatment, it can cause certain side effects, including a risk of sexual side effects, such as erectile dysfunction (ED).
If you’re taking Adderall and worried about ED, there may actually be an upside. We’ll dig into claims that Adderall might help you last longer in bed and uncover whether it’s one of those medications that cause ED.
Below, we’ll discuss how Adderall works and if it impacts sexual performance. We’ll also explain how to improve sexual function if you develop ED while using Adderall to treat ADHD symptoms. Let’s get into it.
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Adderall is a prescription medication for ADHD. It contains the active ingredients amphetamine and dextroamphetamine.
This prescription drug works by stimulating the central nervous system, causing you to experience greater focus and improving your ability to control your actions by impacting dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain.
Children and adults are typically prescribed Adderall for ADHD to help stay focused, avoid impulsive behaviors and control other common ADHD symptoms. Adderall is also used to treat narcolepsy, a sleep disorder that can make you feel excessively sleepy during the day.
People occasionally use Adderall illicitly because it can enhance concentration and performance, giving it a reputation as a “study drug.” Misuse of Adderall could have a negative effect on your health and lead to a range of long-term issues, including prescription stimulant addiction.
Like any medication, Adderall has some side effects, including a few that may affect sexual health and performance.
So, does Adderall cause ED? There’s not a ton of evidence that it does. However, this medication contains amphetamines, which could be a possible culprit of ED.
According to a 2020 review of studies on Adderall’s adverse effects, the drug can cause an alteration in sexual performance and desire. Keep in mind that other side effects of Adderall may indirectly affect sexual performance.
A few Adderall side effects include:
Difficulty falling asleep or interrupted sleep
Nausea or diarrhea
Loss of appetite
Exacerbation of pre-existing mental illnesses
If you happen to have ADHD and depression or ADHD and anxiety, Adderall could amplify these mental health challenges. Since ED can be exacerbated by psychological issues like depression and anxiety, it’s possible Adderall is a contributing factor.
Symptoms of erectile dysfunction vary in severity. You may have ED if you:
Can’t get an erection at any time, even when you feel sexually aroused and interested in having sex or masturbating
Can get an erection but find it difficult or impossible to maintain your erection long enough to have fulfilling or satisfactory sex
Can get an erection sometimes, but not consistently enough to have sex every time you’d like to
Erections are all about healthy, optimal blood flow. When you feel sexually aroused, blood flows to the bodies of erectile tissue inside your penis, causing them to expand and create a firm erection that allows you to have sex.
As a stimulant, Adderall can constrict blood vessels throughout the body. As a result, it can restrict the flow of blood to the penis and make it more difficult to get and maintain an erection.
Can Adderall cause permanent erectile dysfunction? There isn’t much evidence directly linking Adderall to ED. But if it’s causing erectile issues, they probably can be reversed through ED treatments or discontinuing the medication.
Learn more about ADHD and sexual dysfunction by reading our guide.
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While ADHD meds can certainly help you to stay focused and avoid impulsivity, there’s no strong evidence that they improve physical stamina or the ability to prevent premature ejaculation (PE) during sex.
Experts don’t know exactly why some men reach orgasm and ejaculate early during sex. However, research suggests that numerous factors may be responsible, including:
Abnormal levels of certain neurotransmitters, such as serotonin
Changes in levels of certain hormones, such as prolactin or luteinizing hormone (LH)
Mental health issues, such as depression, stress or anxiety
Inflammation affecting the prostate gland or urethra
Lack of self-confidence or a history of sexual abuse
Relationship problems or unrealistic expectations in the bedroom
Currently, no scientific evidence suggests that Adderall or similar medications have any impact on these potential causes of early ejaculation — or that taking ADHD meds could enhance your sexual stamina.
However, according to a 2017 qualitative study, amphetamines have a reputation for enhancing sexual experience. Keep in mind that this study comes from a sample of 35 interviewees and is based on their sexuality and personal experiences in various social settings.
Looking for premature ejaculation treatments? Over-the-counter options, such as our Delay Spray and Clockstopper benzocaine wipes, may help you to last longer in bed by reducing sensitivity around the tip of your penis.
Our guide to increasing sexual stamina explains how treatments for premature ejaculation work and how you can use them to improve sexual performance.
Adderall can definitely affect sexual desire, both as a direct side effect and indirectly.
It turns out that psychological issues can be amplified when taking Adderall, so a person with anxiety or depression could feel worse mental health symptoms. The Contributors of a low sex drive in men include anxiety and depression.
Like the study mentioned above, some find that amphetamines are among the drugs that increase sex drive, but there’s still not enough evidence to say this is true for the majority of people. Whether Adderall affects sexual desire positively or negatively really varies from person to person.
Dealing with erectile dysfunction can be a frustrating experience. Luckily, erectile dysfunction is almost always treatable. If you’ve recently started to experience ED and think your use of Adderall is the cause, it’s best to talk to a healthcare professional.
When you talk to your healthcare provider, make sure to inform them about your symptoms and when they started. ED is a common issue affecting men of all ages, meaning there’s no need to feel embarrassed or worried when you talk to a healthcare professional.
If you feel uncomfortable talking to your regular healthcare provider about ED, you can get ED help online from a licensed medical professional.
Your healthcare provider might suggest making changes to your use of Adderall to reduce the severity of ED and improve sexual performance. This may include:
Adjusting your dosage on days you have sex. This could help reduce the severity of erectile dysfunction symptoms. But only adjust your dosage of Adderall after talking to your healthcare provider.
Not taking Adderall before sex. If you take a split dose of Adderall throughout the day, your provider might suggest not taking it shortly before sexual activity. Don’t stop taking Adderall without first talking to a healthcare professional.
Waiting it out. If you’ve only recently started taking Adderall, your healthcare provider may recommend waiting several weeks to see if your ED symptoms disappear over time on their own.
In some cases, your healthcare provider may recommend switching to a different medication to treat ADHD symptoms.
In addition to suggesting changes to the way you use your medication, your healthcare provider might prescribe ED medication to improve erectile health and sexual performance.
Several medications are available to treat ED. Common oral options include:
Sildenafil. The active ingredient in Viagra®, sildenafil is a fast-acting medication that can provide relief from ED for approximately four hours.
Vardenafil. The active ingredient in Levitra®, vardenafil offers relief from ED for a little longer than sildenafil.
Avanafil. A newer, second-generation ED medication, avanafil (sold as Stendra®) works quickly to provide relief from ED and is less likely to cause certain side effects than older medications.
These medications work by increasing blood flow to the tissue of your penis. Our guide to PDE5 inhibitors (the class of medication common ED drugs belongs to) goes into more detail about how these medications work, their advantages and potential side effects.
Don’t love swallowing pills? Our chewable hard mints for ED might be a great option for you. There is also an injectable ED medication, alprostadil, and a newer topical ED treatment, Eroxon.
If your erectile dysfunction is related to an underlying health condition, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes or high blood pressure, your healthcare provider may prescribe additional medication.
Finally, it’s often possible to reduce the severity of erectile dysfunction and improve sexual health by making changes to your habits and lifestyle. Try to:
Maintain a healthy body weight. Research shows that having overweight or obesity can significantly increase your risk of developing ED. Obesity is also linked to other issues, such as diabetes and heart disease, that can contribute to erectile dysfunction. As such, weight loss may help reverse the condition.
Keep yourself active. According to a 2018 review of studies, 40 minutes of aerobic exercise four times per week can decrease ED. And for those with ED specifically associated with physical inactivity, obesity, hypertension, metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular diseases, 160 minutes of exercise weekly for six months was found to decrease erectile issues.
Avoid cigarettes and nicotine. Nicotine and many other chemicals in cigarette smoke can damage blood vessels and impact blood flow, potentially affecting erectile function and sexual health. If you smoke, make an effort to quit. Your healthcare provider might be able to prescribe medication to make the process of kicking the habit easier.
Drink alcohol in moderation. Research shows that people who drink large amounts of alcohol are more likely to develop sexual dysfunction, including ED, low sexual desire and PE. Try to drink alcohol in moderation. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) recommends a maximum of two servings of alcohol a day for men and one per day for women.
If you’re taking Adderall and experiencing erectile dysfunction, there could be a few reasons for it. Although some common side effects of Adderall might be related to ED, there’s not much evidence to prove the connection.
Here are a few things to remember:
Adderall is a medication typically prescribed for ADHD and narcolepsy. It’s a stimulant and contains amphetamines, which have been shown to cause ED issues.
Some side effects of Adderall, like the amplification of anxiety and depression, could contribute to ED issues for some people.
Lifestyle changes — like losing weight, eating a healthy diet, giving up smoking, decreasing alcohol consumption and staying active — can help improve ED.
According to some guys, stimulants like amphetamines may actually help them perform better sexually.
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Dr. Mike Bohl is a licensed physician and the Director of Scientific & Medical Content at a stealth biotech startup. Prior to joining Hims & Hers, Dr. Bohl spent several years in digital health focusing on patient education. He has also worked in medical journalism for The Dr. Oz Show and Sharecare and has served on the Medical Expert Board of Eat This, Not That!.
Dr. Bohl obtained his Bachelor of Arts and Doctor of Medicine from Brown University, his Master of Public Health from Columbia University, and his Master of Liberal Arts in Extension Studies—Journalism from Harvard University. He is currently pursuing a Master of Business Administration and Master of Science in Healthcare Leadership at Cornell University. Dr. Bohl trained in internal medicine with a focus on community health at NYU Langone Health.
Dr. Bohl is Certified in Public Health by the National Board of Public Health Examiners, Medical Writer Certified by the American Medical Writers Association, a certified Editor in the Life Sciences by the Board of Editors in the Life Sciences, a Certified Personal Trainer and Certified Nutrition Coach by the National Academy of Sports Medicine, and a Board Certified Medical Affairs Specialist by the Accreditation Council for Medical Affairs.
In addition to his written work, Dr. Bohl has experience creating medical segments for radio and producing patient education videos. You can find Dr. Bohl on LinkedIn for more information
Dr. Bohl lives in Manhattan and enjoys biking, resistance training, sailing, scuba diving, skiing, tennis, and traveling. You can find Dr. Bohl on LinkedIn for more information.
Bachelor of Arts, Egyptian and Ancient Western Asian Archaeology. Brown University |
Board Certified Medical Affairs Specialist. Accreditation Council for Medical Affairs
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