What Drugs Can Cause Erectile Dysfunction?

At some point, you heard about erectile dysfunction but thought it was too early for that.

But suddenly, achieving an erection is becoming difficult or may not be hard enough to penetrate your partner.

An erection problem can be frustrating and cause significant problems to you and your relationship.

Did you start to experience this problem all of a sudden? If that is your case, you’re likely to suffer from a temporary situation, and medications can be a cause.

It is now time to search through your medications and ask your doctors about them.

So, to give you a reliable starting point, we’re summarizing in this article a list of the most important drugs that cause erectile dysfunction.

What drugs can cause erectile dysfunction?

So, what drugs can cause erectile dysfunction? Talk to your doctor if you’re using one prescription medication of this list and recently started suffering from erectile problems:


You can experience impotence after using thiazide diuretics and similar drugs used in antihypertensive therapy. They may also reduce your libido (sexual desire) and make ejaculation difficult.

The chance of ED after using diuretics depends on the individual, ranging between 3 and 32% (1).

Antihypertensive drugs

Other blood pressure medications may also cause ED. They include beta-adrenergic receptor blockers and aldosterone receptor blockers.

These patients should be cautious because they shouldn’t use PDE5 inhibitors (sildenafil citrate or Viagra) if they take organic nitrates (2).


Depression causes impotence, but antidepressants can have a similar effect. The most common type of antidepressant that triggers ED is serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SRI).

It is possible to change the antidepressant drug and use another that does not have this side effect. However, this is something only a doctor can do (3).

Parkinson’s disease drugs

Parkinson’s medications can change the way people experience sex. This change is difficult to predict, and some patients do not report any change.

Some of them experience hypersexuality and obsessive sexual desire. Others reduce their libido and sexual response, affecting erectile function and sexual behavior (4).


Class III, antiarrhythmic drugs such as amiodarone and ibutilide, can have ED as a side effect.

These patients need to be carefully examined. They often have several cardiovascular factors that contribute to ED (5).

Prostate cancer drugs

A variety of prostate cancer treatments cause erectile dysfunction. After prostate surgery, erectile dysfunction can linger around for some time. And, if you go through chemotherapy, radiotherapy, or hormone therapy, that’s another cause (6).

Chemotherapeutic medications

Chemotherapy can be used as prostate cancer treatment or another type of cancer. Regardless, the mechanisms are similar, and erectile dysfunction is a possible side effect.

What chemotherapeutics do is killing dividing cells, and they do not discriminate between healthy and unhealthy cells. Thus, they can potentially destroy penile tissue required for healthy erections.

Hormone therapy

In prostate cancer, hormone therapy refers to drugs that block the effects of testosterone. The primary purpose is to prevent the stimulation of tumor growth by testosterone.

However, it also inhibits other actions by testosterone, including those related to sexual health (sexual desire and strong erections).

Anti-seizure medications

It is not frequent, but anti-epilepsy medications can also cause sexual dysfunction.

There are recorded cases of patients who experienced erectile dysfunction in the scientific literature for the first time after using pregabalin (7).


Erections have a strong relationship with the neurologic system. This is a pervasive side effect in these patients, particularly those with schizophrenia. According to scientific evidence, one of the most common culprits is thioridazine (8).


They include anxiolytic treatment and mood stabilizers. They both can potentially cause erectile issues.

It is sometimes difficult to know the exact cause of erectile dysfunction in these patients because psychological causes can also trigger erectile problems by themselves.

That’s probably the reason why there’s limited evidence about it as of yet (9). 

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs

Some researchers state that using aspirin and other NSAIDs increases the risk of erectile problems.

However, many patients with ED consume NSAIDs for different reasons. Thus, the association is still controversial (10).


These drugs are required for patients with HIV or a recent organ transplant. They inhibit the immune cells and prevent their function but cause systemic effects in other parts of the body.

Impaired sexual function is a possibility. The most common immunosuppressants associated with ED include tacrolimus, sirolimus, cyclosporine, everolimus, and cyclosporine.

Recreational drugs

Other substances that impair your erectile function include illegal drugs such as heroin, methamphetamine, and cocaine.

If you’re under treatment with buprenorphine and methadone to quit opioids, you may also experience erectile dysfunction.

Drinking alcohol has a similar effect, especially if you lose control and drink too much (11).


Health authorities recommend a few changes in your lifestyle if you want to prevent erectile dysfunction. They include:

Quit smoking

Tobacco smoke affects your cardiovascular function. Your penis needs a normal penile blood flow to achieve a firm erection. If you quit smoking, the chance of suffering from ED in the future will be lower.

Eat healthily

You should also eat a healthy diet. The Mediterranean diet is a good choice because it features low saturated fat levels and high consumption of fruits and vegetables.

Drink in moderation or cut out alcohol if you can’t control how much you drink.

Keep a healthy weight

Overweight and obesity can also lead to erectile dysfunction. It causes alterations in your cardiovascular system, increased blood fatty acids, and a higher risk of diabetes. 

Stay physically active

Physical activity helps your circulatory system work at its best. If you stay active, the endothelium will respond by releasing nitric oxide, which promotes blood flow and strong erections by widening the blood vessels.

Stay away from illegal drugs

Recreational drugs mentioned above can increase your risk of ED. Thus, it is recommended to stay away from cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin, and other illegal drugs.


If you recently experienced sexual problems or a significant and sudden change in your sexual activity, it is essential to evaluate what is happening and what changed.

Learning what drugs can cause erectile dysfunction can help you learn how to manage it. ED drugs can help throughout this process, but you need to talk to your doctor about medications that may trigger this effect.

Oral medications such as diuretics, heart disease, and hypertension drugs may cause ED. If you’re receiving immunosuppressant therapy after an implant, you could experience this problem, too. Prostate cancer drugs and most psychoactive medications can potentially cause ED.

Sexual stimulation plays a vital role in healthy erection, but a multitude of factors may also contribute. In most cases, you don’t need extreme measures such as a penile implant.

Many patients improve their condition through a combination of counseling, lifestyle modifications, and a comprehensive review of their chronic health medications.

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  1. Sica, D. A. (2004). Diuretic‐related side effects: development and treatment. The Journal of Clinical Hypertension, 6(9), 532-540. Available: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15365284/
  2. Chrysant, S. G. (2015). Antihypertensive therapy causes erectile dysfunction. Current opinion in cardiology, 30(4), 383-390. Available: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26049386/
  3. Rosen, R. C., & Marin, H. (2003). Prevalence of antidepressant-associated erectile dysfunction. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 64, 5-10. Available: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12971810/
  4. Heidelbaugh, J. J. (2010). Management of erectile dysfunction. American family physician, 81(3), 305-312.
  5. Fischbach, P. S. (2006). Pharmacology of antiarrhythmic agents. In Clinical Cardiac Electrophysiology in the Young (pp. 267-288). Springer, Boston, MA.
  6. Alemozaffar, M., Regan, M. M., Cooperberg, M. R., Wei, J. T., Michalski, J. M., Sandler, H. M., … & Sanda, M. G. (2011). Prediction of erectile function following treatment for prostate cancer. Jama, 306(11), 1205-1214. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21934053/
  7. Hitiris, N., Barrett, J. A., & Brodie, M. J. (2006). Erectile dysfunction associated with pregabalin add-on treatment in patients with partial seizures: five case reports. Epilepsy & Behavior, 8(2), 418-421. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16446121/
  8. Smith, S., O’Keane, V., & Murray, R. (2002). Sexual dysfunction in patients taking conventional antipsychotic medication. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 181(1), 49-55. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12091263/
  9. La Torre, A., Giupponi, G., Duffy, D. M., Pompili, M., Grözinger, M., Kapfhammer, H. P., & Conca, A. (2014). Sexual dysfunction related to psychotropic drugs: a critical review. Part III: mood stabilizers and anxiolytic drugs. Pharmacopsychiatry, 47(01), 1-6.
  10. Li, T., Wu, C., Fu, F., Qin, F., Wei, Q., & Yuan, J. (2018). Association between use of aspirin or non-aspirin non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and erectile dysfunction: A systematic review. Medicine, 97(28). https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29995772/
  11. McKay, A. (2005). Sexuality and substance use: The impact of tobacco, alcohol, and selected recreational drugs on sexual function. The Canadian journal of human sexuality, 14(1/2), 47. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6224805/

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