Medications That Can Cause Erectile Dysfunction

Medically Reviewed By William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS

Erectile dysfunction (ED), or impotence, can be caused by many problems, from stress to physical illness — but did you know that ED can also be caused by some medications? ED is a common side effect of many prescription drugs, as well as some over-the-counter (OTC) medications, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Educating yourself on possible connections between medications and ED can help prepare you for a conversation with your doctor about treating your ED.

Which medications can cause ED?

The medications most commonly known to contribute to ED include those prescribed to treat hypertension, mental health conditions, and allergies. Other drugs that can cause ED may surprise you, such as eye drops for glaucoma. While information on this potential side effect is listed in the official documentation provided by the prescription drug manufacturers, your pharmacist can also answer any questions you may have about side effects. What follows is a list of some of the drugs most commonly known to cause ED.

Medications for hypertension

In order to obtain and keep an erection, the penis needs an adequate blood supply. People who have high blood pressure can experience ED because hypertension affects how well blood flows throughout your body, including the penis. Drugs that treat hypertension but can also cause ED include diuretics (so-called water pills) and other antihypertensives. Some of the most common ones are:

  • Atenolol (Tenormin)
  • Chlorothiazide (Diuril)
  • Enalapril (Vasotec)
  • Furosemide (Lasix)
  • Hydralazine (Apresoline)
  • Hydrochlorothiazide (Esidrix)
  • Methyldopa (Aldomet)
  • Metoprolol (Lopressor)
  • Nifedipine (Adalat, Procardia)
  • Prazosin (Minipress)
  • Propranolol (Inderal)
  • Spironolactone (Aldactone)
  • Triamterene (Maxzide)
  • Verapamil (Calan)

Medications for anxiety and depression

Mental as well as physical health plays a role in ED. Stress, anxiety and depression, among other mental health issues, are known to cause ED, but many people who are take medications for mental health issues find that while they feel better, they still experience ED. Also, some people with depression do not have a problem with ED until they begin taking medication to treat their depression. Some of the most common drugs with this side effect include:

  • Amitriptyline (Elavil)
  • Chlordiazepoxide (Librium)
  • Chlorpromazine (Thorazine)
  • Doxepin (Sinequan)
  • Fluoxetine (Prozac)
  • Imipramine (Tofranil)
  • Oxazepam (Serax)
  • Phenelzine (Nardil)
  • Phenytoin (Dilantin)
  • Sertraline (Zoloft)
  • Thioridazine (Mellaril)

Medications for allergies and heartburn

Allergy medications and those that treat heartburn, available either with a prescription or over-the-counter, can also cause ED. These medications include:

  • Cimetidine (Tagamet)
  • Dimenhydrinate (Dramamine)
  • Diphenhydramine (Benadryl)
  • Hydroxyzine (Vistaril)
  • Meclizine (Antivert)
  • Nizatidine (Axid)
  • Promethazine (Phenergan)
  • Ranitidine (Zantac)

Why do medications cause ED?

The question of why medications may cause ED is complicated because there is not one specific reason. Additionally, the health conditions that doctors may prescribe these medications for can cause ED. In some cases, people who see their doctor with complaints of ED are ultimately diagnosed with an illness such as hypertension (high blood pressure) or Parkinson’s disease.

The chances of experiencing ED increase with age. However, on average, older people take more medication than younger people, which might contribute to this increased risk of ED. If you are experiencing ED and you regularly take medication, it may take some detective work to find out what is causing the problem. Your healthcare professional can help you determine whether your ED is causes by an illness or the medication.

If you suspect the medication you are taking is causing or contributing to ED, do not stop taking the medication without first speaking with your doctor. ED may simply be temporary side effect as your body gets used to the treatment. However, if the problem persists, your doctor may be able to prescribe an alternate medication that doesn’t have the same side effects.

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Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Last Review Date: 2022 Aug 20
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