Caffeine has a complicated reputation. Ask around, and you’ll get different answers about whether it’s good or bad for you.
Ultimately, though, there’s some solid evidence that antioxidant-rich coffee has health benefits — as long as you don’t go overboard.
If you’re dealing with erectile dysfunction (ED), you might be wondering whether your AM java habit is negatively impacting your sexual health. Or…. could it *gasp* be improving it?
But researchers have also looked at natural alternatives for treating ED, like caffeine.
The research on caffeine and erectile dysfunction isn’t clear-cut. While drinking coffee isn’t a treatment for ED, it might help boost your overall health, making you less likely to develop erectile problems.
Below, we dig into the link between caffeine and ED, including whether that morning cuppa is an effective treatment for ED (spoiler alert: it’s not!), caffeine side effects and research-backed ED treatments.
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Let’s talk caffeine and erections. First off, is coffee good or bad for you? What’s the deal?
The good: Some evidence links drinking several cups of coffee and tea daily to a lower risk of stroke and dementia.
The bad: Too much caffeine — more than five cups per day — may have adverse health effects, according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Okay, so coffee is both good and bad for you generally, but is it good for erectile dysfunction?
Coffee and other substances containing caffeine might help with ED, but overall the evidence is mixed.
Moderate amounts of caffeine seem to lessen the risk of ED, according to some studies.
One survey-based study from 2015 published in the journal PLOS One analyzed National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey data from 3,724 American men. The study authors noted a link between caffeine intake and a lower risk of ED in all participants except those with diabetes.
But how much caffeine are we talking about? An intake equivalent to about two to three cups of coffee per day was associated with a reduction in the prevalence of ED.
But while it’s possible that caffeine might help prevent ED, it’s important to note that causation does not equal correlation.
Bottom line: the jury’s still out.
If you’re interested in learning more about the link between sexual dysfunction and coffee, check out our blog on the benefits of coffee sexually.
No. Caffeine alone isn’t a solid solution for ED, at least according to the currently available evidence. You can’t caffeinate your way into an erection.
While a few cups of morning joe can be a part of a healthy routine, it’s not a magic pill for ED or a replacement for conventional ED medications like sildenafil (generic Viagra) and tadalafil (generic Cialis).
That said, if you have ED, there’s nothing to suggest it’s time to give up your coffee-drinking habit.
Quick note, though: Energy drinks and other sugary drinks containing caffeine probably aren’t the best choice, since they often contain ultra-high levels of caffeine or sugar.
Conversely though, one 2014 study found a link between increased caffeine and sugar intake and lower incidence of erectile dysfunction. This may point to a possible protective effect from caffeine, though the study authors don’t dig into the why behind these results.
Want to learn more about the effects of energy drinks on your sexual health? Check out our article on whether energy drinks cause erectile dysfunction.
Tea, coffee, lattes, espresso, chocolate-covered coffee beans and energy drinks — all tasty caffeine-filled options.
Caffeine isn’t for everyone, though.
For some, too much caffeine can leave them feeling jittery and unsettled. Others might get an upset stomach. And let’s not even mention the bathroom-related side effects of just a cup of coffee in the morning.
What about caffeine and erectile dysfunction? Can your aromatic brew negatively affect your ability to get and maintain an erection? Does caffeine cause ED in some cases?
Here are a few of the ED-related side effects possible with caffeine consumption:
Increased blood pressure. Things that go together: coffee and chocolate, peanut butter and jelly. Things that don’t? High blood pressure and erections. Drinking coffee can make you temporarily hypertensive, which can negatively impact your erection.
Sleep troubles. It’s a good idea to avoid coffee and other caffeinated beverages after 3 p.m. That’s because caffeine can seriously mess with your sleep, causing insomnia and poor sleep quality. And we can bet you won’t be raring to go if you’re running on fumes.
Stomach troubles. The effects of caffeine can make you go in more ways than one. Not exactly the ideal starter for a romantic encounter.
Withdrawal can cause headaches. Your body can become dependent on caffeine, which means that regular coffee drinkers might experience (unsexy) headaches if they skip their usual cuppa.
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Real talk. You don’t have to give up caffeine if you have ED, but since coffee and tea don’t cut it as treatments for erection issues, it’s time to dig into some proven ED treatments.
If you’re having problems getting or keeping an erection, a healthcare professional might recommend the following meds:
Sildenafil (generic for Viagra)
Tadalafil (generic for Cialis)
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If your causes of ED are more psychological, than physical though, you may need a different treatment.
Stress, sexual performance anxiety and trauma can all mess with your ability to fully enjoy sex. If emotional issues like anxiety or depression are interfering with your sex life, it might be a good idea to talk to a professional about how you’re feeling, whether online or in person. In some cases, a combo of meds and behavioral treatments will be most effective.
Addressing the root cause of ED — like mental health issues — can help put you on the path to a healthier, less stress-inducing sex life.
And speaking of root causes, adopting general healthy habits — drinking tea and coffee included! —can also help boost your sexual function and prevent erectile issues. Here are a few lifestyle factors to consider:
Regular exercise. Medical conditions like high blood pressure and heart disease can impact vascular health, damaging the blood vessels in your penis and putting you at higher risk for ED. Physical activity can help lower your risk of cardiovascular disease.
Dietary changes. A healthy, nutrient-dense diet can help you avoid all sorts of nasty health issues like heart disease and diabetes. Also key? Limiting alcohol consumption and quitting smoking, both risk factors for ED.
Meditation or yoga. If evil went by another name, it would probably be stress. Because if you think about it, stress is kind of the root of all evil — emotional and physical. Finding healthy ways to cope with daily stressors has many benefits. And less stress equals an easier time getting and keeping erections.
Here’s the thing: caffeine isn’t an approved treatment for ED. While there’s no harm in continuing to drink tea and coffee as you usually would, it’s not going to have much of an impact on ED symptoms.
TRUE, combining caffeine intake with other healthy habits might help improve your overall health and, in turn, your erectile function.
BUT coffee isn’t a substitute for conventional medication treatments for ED.
AND, caffeine intake might even mess with your ability to enjoy sex, giving you the rumblies, impacting your sleep and increasing your blood pressure.
SO, if you’re looking for a way to solve your sexual performance issues, your best bet is to get medical advice from a qualified healthcare professional.
How can you treat ED symptoms effectively? Erectile dysfunction medications like Viagra and Cialis are FDA-approved to help with erection troubles.
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Kristin Hall is a board-certified Family Nurse Practitioner with decades of experience in clinical practice and leadership.
She has an extensive background in Family Medicine as both a front-line healthcare provider and clinical leader through her work as a primary care provider, retail health clinician and as Principal Investigator with the NIH.
Certified through the American Nurses Credentialing Center, she brings her expertise in Family Medicine into your home by helping people improve their health and actively participate in their own healthcare.
Kristin is a St. Louis native and earned her master’s degree in Nursing from St. Louis University, and is also a member of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners. You can find Kristin on LinkedIn for more information.