Reviewed by Katelyn Hagerty, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
If you’ve been diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), your healthcare provider may prescribe ADHD medication such as Adderall® to help you treat your symptoms and stay focused on specific tasks.
Adderall, which contains the ingredients amphetamine and dextroamphetamine, is a stimulant medication that’s used to treat ADHD.
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.
Below, we’ve explained how Adderall works, as well as the adverse impact it can have on your erectile function and general sexual performance.
We’ve also discussed what you can do to improve your sexual function if you start to develop erectile dysfunction while using Adderall to treat your ADHD symptoms.
Before we get into the finer details of Adderall and your ability to get an erection, let’s quickly go over the basics of Adderall and the effects it can have on your sexual function:
Adderall is a widely-used ADHD medication. It contains four salts of amphetamine and is part of a class of drugs called central nervous system stimulants.
Although Adderall is approved by the FDA to treat ADHD, it’s often used illicitly to boost concentration, particularly as a study aid.
Sexual side effects, such as erectile dysfunction and changes in libido, are known side effects of Adderall and other medications that contain amphetamine salts.
It’s often possible to treat Adderall-related ED by planning ahead of time and modifying your dosage on days you plan to have sex.
In addition to medications like Adderall, certain medical conditions and habits can cause or worsen erectile dysfunction. You might be able to improve your erections and general sexual performance by treating these.
Adderall is a prescription medication for ADHD. It contains the active ingredients amphetamine and dextroamphetamine.
Currently, Adderall is available in a short-acting form and in a longer-acting, extended-release formulation called Adderall XR®.
As a treatment for ADHD, Adderall works by stimulating your central nervous system, causing you to experience greater focus and the ability to control your actions.
In addition to ADHD, Adderall is also used to treat narcolepsy, a sleep disorder that can cause you to feel excessively sleepy during the daytime.
In addition to Adderall, a range of other medications are used to treat ADHD, including Ritalin®, Concerta®, Vyvanse® and others.
These medications are typically very effective at treating ADHD. Many children and adults with clinically significant ADHD find that medications like Adderall allow them to stay focused, avoid impulsive behaviors and control other common symptoms of ADHD.
Because of Adderall’s effects on concentration, it’s often used as a recreational drug. Students, workers and other people occasionally use Adderall illicitly for its cognitive effects, viewing it as a performance enhancer or “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 many other medications, Adderall can cause certain side effects, including side effects that may affect your sexual health and performance.
Although it’s not a common side effect, between two and four percent of men who used Adderall in clinical trials report experiencing erectile dysfunction (ED).
The symptoms of erectile dysfunction can vary in severity. According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, 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 for a long enough amount of time to have fulfilling or satisfactory sex.
Can get an erection sometimes, but not consistently enough to have sex every time you would 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 it to expand and create a firm erection that allows you to have sex.
As a stimulant, Adderall can constrict blood vessels throughout your body, which can restrict the flow of blood and make it more difficult to get and maintain an erection.
Erectile dysfunction is a relatively uncommon side effect of Adderall, with a small percentage of men prescribed this medication reporting ED or other sexual performance issues.
More common side effects of Adderall in males include:
Loss of appetite
Tachycardia (fast heart rate)
Urinary tract infection
In rare cases, Adderall may cause more serious side effects. Contact your healthcare provider as soon as possible if you experience any of the following issues:
Slowed or difficult speech
Motor or verbal tics
Hallucinations and/or delusions
Feelings of unusual suspicion toward others
Confusion, shivering, loss of coordination, fever or sweating
Blurred vision or other changes in your ability to see
Mania (an abnormally excited and/or frenzied state)
Pain, burning, numbness or tingling in your limbs
Paleness or a blue tinge to your fingers and/or toes
Swelling of your face, eyes, tongue and/or throat
Skin blistering, peeling, itching, rash or hives
Unexplained wounds on your limbs
Difficulty breathing or swallowing
Make sure to talk to your healthcare provider if you experience any issues while using Adderall to treat ADHD or narcolepsy, or if you have any concerns about your physical or mental health while using this medication.
If you get severe or persistent side effects from Adderall, your healthcare provider may suggest switching to a different medication.
Our guide to Adderall alternatives discusses both prescription medications and over-the-counter products that may help you to manage the symptoms of ADHD.
While Adderall can certainly help you to stay focused, there’s no evidence that it improves your physical stamina or ability to avoid premature ejaculation during sex.
Experts aren’t yet completely aware of why some men reach orgasm and ejaculate early during sex. However, research suggests that a variety of 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 that affects the prostate gland or urethra
A lack of self-confidence or a history of sexual abuse
Relationship problems and/or unrealistic expectations
Currently, there’s no scientific evidence to suggest that Adderall or similar medications have any impact on these potential causes of early ejaculation, or that taking Adderall could enhance your sexual stamina.
However, over-the-counter treatments such as our Delay Spray for Men may help you to last for longer in bed by reducing sensitivity around the tip of your penis.
Our guide to increasing your sexual stamina explains how treatments for premature ejaculation work, as well as how you can use them to improve your sexual performance.
A variety of factors, from your physical health to your day-to-day habits, may also increase your risk of developing erectile dysfunction.
You may have a higher risk of developing ED if you smoke, drink alcohol excessively, use illegal drugs, are overweight or obese, or if you have a physically inactive lifestyle.
Certain physical and psychological factors could also increase your risk of experiencing erectile dysfunction and other sexual performance issues.
For example, conditions such as heart and blood vessel disease, type 2 diabetes, hypertension (high blood pressure), atherosclerosis (clogged arteries), multiple sclerosis (MS) and others are all linked to erectile dysfunction.
Psychological conditions and mental disorders, including depression, anxiety, poor self-esteem, stress and guilt or fear regarding sex, may also cause erectile dysfunction or make your existing symptoms worse.
Finally, in addition to Adderall, other medications could increase your risk of developing erectile dysfunction.
These medications include antidepressants, prescription sedatives, medications for high blood pressure, appetite suppressants, antiandrogens and others.
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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 your healthcare provider.
When you talk to your healthcare provider, make sure to inform them about your symptoms and when they started. ED is a common issue that affects men of all ages, meaning there’s no need to feel embarrassed or worried when you talk to your healthcare provider.
If you feel uncomfortable talking to your regular healthcare provider about ED, you can get ED help online from a healthcare provider.
Your healthcare provider may suggest making certain changes to your use of Adderall to reduce the severity of your ED and improve your sexual performance. These may include:
Adjusting your dosage on days you have sex. This may help to reduce the severity of your ED symptoms. Make sure only to adjust your dosage of Adderall after you’ve talked to your healthcare provider.
Not taking Adderall before sex. If you take a split dose of Adderall throughout the day, your healthcare provider might suggest not taking it shortly before sexual activity. Do not stop taking Adderall without first talking to your healthcare provider.
Waiting it out. If you’ve only recently started taking Adderall, your healthcare provider may recommend waiting for 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 your ADHD symptoms.
It’s important to keep in mind that there’s also a link between ADHD and sexual dysfunction on the whole. Researchers have concluded that dysfunction during sex and sexual disorders tend to occur more frequently in adults with ADHD.
In addition to suggesting changes to the way you use your medication, your healthcare provider may prescribe ED medication to improve your erectile health and sexual performance. A variety of medications are available to treat ED. Common 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 similar amount of time to 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, potential side effects and more.
If your ED 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 your sexual health by making certain changes to your habits and lifestyle. Try to:
Maintain a healthy body weight. Research shows that being overweight or obese 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.
If you’re overweight or obese, try changing your eating habits and activity level to reach a BMI in the healthy range. You can use the CDC’s BMI calculator to check your current BMI and learn more about other metrics for measuring your physical health.
Keep yourself active. Research shows that men with ED caused by certain heart health issues often benefit from aerobic forms of exercise such as walking, jogging, cycling and other activities.
According to Harvard Medical School, as little as 15 minutes of regular exercise per day can have a positive impact on your cardiovascular health.
Eat a healthy, balanced diet. Since healthy erections rely on healthy blood flow, paying attention to the foods you eat may help you to reduce the severity of your ED symptoms and improve your sexual performance.
Research shows that the heart-friendly Mediterranean diet, which consists of vegetables, nuts, fish and fresh fruit with limited processed foods, may be associated with improved sexual performance in men with ED.
Avoid cigarettes and nicotine. Nicotine and many other chemicals in cigarette smoke can damage your blood vessels and affect blood flow, potentially affecting your erectile function and sexual health.
If you smoke, make an effort to quit. Your healthcare provider may 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 erectile dysfunction, low sexual desire and premature ejaculation.
Try to drink alcohol in moderation. The CDC recommends up to two servings of alcohol a day for men, or one per day for women.
If you have ADHD, Adderall is one of the most effective treatments available for controlling your symptoms and allowing you to maintain a higher quality of life.
Erectile dysfunction is a known side effect of Adderall. However, research suggests that it’s only reported by a small percentage of men who use this medication.
While ED can be frustrating to deal with, it’s almost always treatable by using ED medication or making changes to your lifestyle and habits.
If you’re prescribed Adderall and find it difficult to get or maintain an erection, it’s best to talk to your healthcare provider about your options. They may suggest changes that you can make to the way you use your medication to improve your sexual function.