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What Medications Cause Erectile Dysfunction?

Angela Sheddan

Reviewed by Angela Sheddan, FNP

Written by Rachel Sacks

Published 05/29/2023

Wondering what medications cause erectile dysfunction? We rounded up a few to be aware of.

Dealing with erectile dysfunction (ED) simply isn’t a great time. The condition is defined as not being able to achieve an erection firm enough for satisfactory sexual performance, and it can negatively impact your sex life.

Finding a treatment for erectile dysfunction may (understandably) be a priority for many men.

Knowing the cause of your erectile dysfunction can help you narrow down which treatment is best for you. There can be several causes of ED, including things relating to mental health, lifestyle habits and physical health. Certain medications can even cause erectile dysfunction.

What medications cause erectile dysfunction? Keep reading to learn more about the drugs that cause erectile dysfunction.

Many common medications affect your cardiovascular and nervous systems, potentially causing ED as a sexual side effect. Others can affect your brain and make it more difficult to become aroused or sexually stimulated.

Erectile dysfunction caused by a medication or other substance may be referred to as drug-induced erectile dysfunction.

Some medications prescribed by a healthcare provider may cause sexual side effects like ED. Prescribed drugs that cause erectile dysfunction can either increase the risk of erectile dysfunction on their own or when combined with other ED causes, such as cardiovascular disease.

Below, we’ll go over what medications cause erectile dysfunction.

Psychiatric Drugs

Many commonly used psychiatric drugs — such as antidepressant medications — can cause sexual side effects, including erectile dysfunction.

Referred to as antidepressant-induced sexual dysfunction, people may experience sexual side effects, including less desire for sex, delayed orgasm, delayed ejaculation and ED.

Different types of antidepressants can cause ED, including selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) and more.

This guide on antidepressants and erectile dysfunction goes into more detail on antidepressant-induced sexual dysfunction.

Other psychiatric medications that cause erectile dysfunction are anti-anxiety medications and antipsychotic drugs. Antipsychotic medications are used to treat psychosis, such as schizophrenia, severe depression and some forms of bipolar disorder.

Several psychiatric drugs can potentially cause ED, whether antidepressant-induced sexual dysfunction or as a side effect of antipsychotic medications. These include:

  • Amitriptyline (Elavil)

  • Amoxapine (Asendin)

  • Buspirone (Buspar)

  • Citalopram (Celexa®)

  • Chlordiazepoxide (Librium)

  • Chlorpromazine (Thorazine)

  • Clomipramine (Anafranil)

  • Clorazepate (Tranxene)

  • Desipramine (Norpramin)

  • Diazepam (Valium)

  • Doxepin (Sinequan)

  • Duloxetine (Cymbalta®)

  • Escitalopram (Lexapro®)

  • Fluoxetine (Prozac®)

  • Fluphenazine (Prolixin)

  • Imipramine (Tofranil)

  • Isocarboxazid (Marplan)

  • Lorazepam (Ativan)

  • Meprobamate (Equanil)

  • Mesoridazine (Serentil)

  • Nortriptyline (Pamelor)

  • Oxazepam (Serax)

  • Paroxetine (Paxil®)

  • Phenelzine (Nardil)

  • Phenytoin (Dilantin)

  • Sertraline (Zoloft®)

  • Thioridazine (Mellaril)

  • Thiothixene (Navane)

  • Tranylcypromine (Parnate)

  • Trifluoperazine (Stelazine)

High Blood Pressure Medications

High blood pressure and erectile dysfunction can be a tricky situation to deal with. Why? While some high blood pressure medications can cause erectile dysfunction, high blood pressure itself can also be a cause of ED.

High blood pressure affects blood flow throughout the entire body — including to your penis, as healthy blood flow is necessary for erections.

On the other hand, high blood pressure medications are thought to cause ED by lowering blood pressure and the volume of blood entering the penis.

Different types of medications used to treat high blood pressure include hydrochlorothiazide (HCTZ), angiotensin-converting-enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs), beta-blockers and diuretics ("water pills").

Some high blood pressure medications don’t cause ED as often, including ACE inhibitors, angiotensin receptor blockers and a type called alpha-blockers.

The high blood pressure drugs that most often cause erectile dysfunction include:

  • Aldactone (spironolactone)

  • Aldomet (methyldopa)

  • Apresoline (hydralazine)

  • Bethanidine

  • Bumex (bumetanide)

  • Calan (verapamil)

  • Capoten (captopril)

  • Catapres (clonidine)

  • Dibenzyline (phenoxybenzamine)

  • Diuril (chlorothiazide)

  • Esidrix (hydrochlorothiazide)

  • Haldol (haloperidol)

  • Hygroton (chlorthalidone)

  • Inderal (propranolol)

  • Ismelin (guanethidine)

  • Lasix (furosemide)

  • Lopressor (metoprolol)

  • Maxzide (triamterene)

  • Minipress (prazosin)

  • Normodyne (labetalol)

  • Procardia (nifedipine)

  • Regitine (phentolamine)

  • Serpasil (reserpine)

  • Tenex (guanfacine)

  • Tenormin (atenolol)

  • Vasotec (enalapril)

  • Wytensin (guanabenz)

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Commonly taken for allergies, certain antihistamines are used to treat heartburn by blocking the action of histamine, a chemical in the body involved both in allergic reactions and the regulation of stomach acid.

However, histamine also helps relax smooth muscles, another part of how erections work. When the smooth muscles of the penis relax, this allows the blood vessels to engorge and increases blood flow.

Antihistamines can be purchased over the counter. Those that may cause erectile dysfunction include:

  • Antivert (meclizine)

  • Axid (nizatidine)

  • Benadryl (diphenhydramine)

  • Dramamine (dimenhydrinate)

  • Pepcid (famotidine)

  • Tagamet (cimetidine)

Chemotherapy Medicines

Chemotherapy and other hormonal drugs — like those used for the medical treatment of prostate cancer — can cause erectile dysfunction.

These medications have anti-androgenic effects, meaning they block the action of testosterone or lower testosterone. Though this can slow the growth of a cancerous tumor, it can also increase the risk of erectile dysfunction.

Drugs used in chemotherapy and other hormonal medicines that cause erectile dysfunction include:

  • Casodex (bicalutamide)

  • Cytoxan (cyclophosphamide)

  • Firmagon (degarelix)

  • Eulexin (flutamide)

  • Lupron (leuprorelin)

  • Myleran (busulfan)

  • Nilandron (nilutamide)

  • Nizoral (ketoconazole)

  • Zoladex (goserelin)

Recreational Drugs

Drugs often used in social settings or recreationally — both legal and illegal — can cause erectile dysfunction in different ways.

Some, like alcohol, can affect blood pressure or cause the narrowing of blood vessels, both of which restrict the flow of blood to the penis. Others might affect brain signals that affect erectile function.

Recreational drugs that increase the risk of ED include:

  • Alcohol

  • Amphetamines, including crystal meth

  • Barbiturates, such as phenobarbital and Seconal (secobarbital)

  • Cocaine

  • Heroin

  • Marijuana

  • Nicotine

Choose your chew

If erectile dysfunction is affecting your sexual performance, talking to a healthcare professional is a good first step to finding a solution. They may recommend ED treatments that enhance sexual performance while allowing you to continue taking potentially life-saving medications.

  • Your healthcare provider can help you figure out if any medications you’re currently taking are the cause of your ED. They can also rule out other factors like weight, heart disease, smoking or depression.

  • Oral medications are a common ED treatment, with the most common being phosphodiesterase type-5 (PDE5) inhibitors that relax and widen the blood vessels to promote blood flow. Examples of PDE5 inhibitors include tadalafil (Cialis®), avanafil (Stendra®) and sildenafil (Viagra®).

  • If the cause of your erectile dysfunction is anxiety or depression, psychotherapy is a treatment option. Several types of therapy are helpful for ED, including sex therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy and counseling.

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Erectile dysfunction is a common condition among men of all ages and backgrounds. While there can be many things that cause ED, medications are one possible factor.

What medications cause erectile dysfunction? Most often, antidepressants, antipsychotic medications, high blood pressure medications, antihistamines and recreational drugs can lead to sexual dysfunction. These medications can affect sex drive or sexual stimulation, blood flow, hormones or other factors contributing to sexual health.

If you’re experiencing erectile dysfunction, talk to your healthcare provider to rule out any possible causes, including medications you may be taking. From there, they’ll recommend an ED treatment plan best for your symptoms and conditions.

Connect with a healthcare provider on Hims today.

10 Sources

Hims & Hers has strict sourcing guidelines to ensure our content is accurate and current. We rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We strive to use primary sources and refrain from using tertiary references.

  1. Symptoms & Causes of Erectile Dysfunction - NIDDK. (n.d.). National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Retrieved from https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/urologic-diseases/erectile-dysfunction/symptoms-causes
  2. Higgins, A., Nash, M., & Lynch, A. M. (2009). Antidepressant-associated sexual dysfunction: Impact, effects, and treatment. Drug, healthcare and patient safety, 2, 141-150. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3108697/
  3. Chokhawala, K., & Stevens, L. (2023, February 26). Antipsychotic Medications - StatPearls. NCBI. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK519503/
  4. Drugs that may cause erection problems. (2021, January 10). MedlinePlus. Retrieved from https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/004024.htm
  5. Javaroni, V., & Neves, M. F. (2011). Erectile Dysfunction and Hypertension: Impact on Cardiovascular Risk and Treatment. International Journal of Hypertension, 2012. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3357516/
  6. Farzam, K., Sabir, S., & O'Rourke, M. C. (n.d.). Antihistamines - StatPearls. NCBI. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK538188/
  7. Panchatsharam, P.K., Durland, J. & Zito, P.M. (2021, May 9). Physiology, Erection. StatPearls. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK513278/
  8. Chen, Y., Clegg, N. J., & Scher, H. I. (2009). Antiandrogens and androgen depleting therapies in prostate cancer: Novel agents for an established target. The lancet oncology, 10(10), 981. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2935850/
  9. Donovan, K. A., Gonzalez, B. D., Nelson, A. M., Fishman, M. N., Zachariah, B., & Jacobsen, P. B. (2018). Effect of Androgen Deprivation Therapy on Sexual Function and Bother in Men with Prostate Cancer: A Controlled Comparison. Psycho-oncology, 27(1), 316. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5709275/
  10. Calsyn, D. A., Cousins, S. J., Hatch-Maillette, M. A., Forcehimes, A., Mandler, R., Doyle, S. R., & Woody, G. (2010). Sex Under the Influence of Drugs or Alcohol: Common for Men in Substance Abuse Treatment and Associated with High Risk Sexual Behavior. The American journal on addictions / American Academy of Psychiatrists in Alcoholism and Addictions, 19(2), 119. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2861416/
Editorial Standards

Hims & Hers has strict sourcing guidelines to ensure our content is accurate and current. We rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We strive to use primary sources and refrain from using tertiary references. See a mistake? Let us know at [email protected]!

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment. Learn more about our editorial standards here.

Angela Sheddan, FNP

Dr. Angela Sheddan has been a Family Nurse Practitioner since 2005, practicing in community, urgent and retail health capacities. She has also worked in an operational capacity as an educator for clinical operations for retail clinics. 

She received her undergraduate degree from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, her master’s from the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Memphis, and her Doctor of Nursing Practice from the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. You can find Angela on LinkedIn for more information.

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