Reviewed by Katelyn Hagerty, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
Energy drinks: the student’s magic study tool, the truck driver’s Hail Mary, and the late-night gamer’s only source of nutrients. Energy drinks are a habit for some, a source of jittery fears for others and a useful “tool” for many. But what about your penis? Will energy drinks cause erectile dysfunction?
Aside from the horror stories of guys crushing 30 cans of energy drinks and giving themselves a heart attack, it might not surprise you to learn that there’s not a significant amount of objective research out there looking at the short- and long-term effects regarding regular consumption of energy drinks.
Even less surprisingly, there aren’t a lot of studies of penile health through the lens of someone who mainlines Red Bull®, Monster Energy® or any of the other dozens of beverages in this category.
What we have is a lot of circumstantial evidence about the beneficial effects and adverse health effects that you’ll be interested to learn. Let’s jump into it.
As we mentioned, energy drinks have been a relatively poorly studied category of stimulants, and that’s particularly important when discussing their side effects and negative health outcomes.
A lot of what we know is based on relatively few studies. A lot of what the average person thinks they know comes from anecdotal news stories.
Evidence shows that energy drinks can be associated with or contribute to a lot of problems, namely:
Increased alcohol consumption and substance abuse
Mental health issues like stress, anxiety, depressive symptoms and suicidal thoughts
Increased heart rate and heart palpitations
Increased blood pressure
Increased risk of obesity
Insomnia and sleep dissatisfaction
Risk of type 2 diabetes
According to one 2017 review, most of the existing research has been dedicated to just two ingredients: caffeine and sugar.
And that’s bad because there’s a lot of other stuff in energy drinks, some of which we don’t know the risks of consuming daily.
ED is actually an important canary in the coal mine for some underlying medical issues (like heart disease), though it can also be a result of nerve damage, hormone fluctuations, muscle tissue problems or other malfunctions downstairs.
So, will an energy drink make your penis seem less energized? That’s harder to say, especially without looking at the specific ingredients of the drink in question.
Certain ingredients — and sugar, specifically — can have serious and detrimental effects in excessive amounts. After all, one of the “other” related conditions in erectile dysfunction is diabetes.
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In fact, some ingredients in energy drinks may do the opposite.
A 2011 study found that daily niacin (also known as vitamin B3, a popular ingredient in many energy drinks) supplementation by itself can improve erectile function in men with high cholesterol who were also experiencing moderate to severe erectile dysfunction over a period of 12 weeks.
That’s part of why we call it one of the top four vitamins for erectile health.
And taurine, which is also found in some energy drinks, improved erectile function in rats with diabetic erectile dysfunction, though we haven’t seen any human tests since that 2016 study.
Most interestingly, a 2015 study of caffeine consumption actually found that two to three cups of coffee per day (caffeinated coffee with roughly 170-375 mg/day of caffeine) actually reduced the odds of prevalent erectile dysfunction.
The study analyzed more than 3,000 men to get this data. The reduced odds were seen in people with hypertension and obesity, though men with diabetes did not show similar results.
So, will energy drinks cause erectile dysfunction? It depends. Certain ingredients may go on the “risk” pile, while others might belong on the “prevention” pile.
A single energy drink, however, is very unlikely to cause wreak havoc on your erectile function.
And likewise, it’s unlikely to be a source of your daily intake of good-for-your-penis ingredients, either.
Instead of worrying about the energy drinks, focus on the bigger picture.
After all, there are plenty of other factors for risk of erectile dysfunction (and you can read about the causes of erectile dysfunction on our other page).
What you put in your body matters, and putting the wrong things in it can have negative effects.
Some things may give you wings, while others may, over time, give you diabetes. How much you consume, how often you consume them and how they fit into the bigger picture of your health choices will inform the outcome.
As for your penis, there are some things you can do to promote its health. Stay healthy, exercise, keep your heart health in focus, keep your blood pressure low, and keep your weight down. Most of all, avoid heart disease.
If you think you have ED or are seeing signs that it may be starting to happen, the best thing you can do is talk to your healthcare provider.
They may suggest the same lifestyle changes we mentioned, or they may suggest medications like sildenafil or tadalafil (which you know as Viagra® and Cialis®). Other treatment options for ED are available too.
They certainly won’t recommend energy drinks, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy them in moderation. Whether they need to be part of your sex life is, well, another question.