drug-induced erectile dysfunctionAlternative Names
drugs that may cause impotence, medications that may cause erectile dysfunction
Erectile dysfunction, or impotence, is a condition in which a man is unable to get or maintain an erection. There can be several causes for this condition. One factor may be the medications the man is taking.
What is the information for this topic?
Erectile dysfunction becomes more common as men get older. Although less than 5% of men younger than age 40 are thought to have this problem, up to 75% of men over age 75 may have episodes of erectile dysfunction. There are many causes of erectile dysfunction. Conditions ranging from depression to diabetes can bring on the problem. Drugs are one of the more common causes of erectile dysfunction.
There are many different drugs that may cause erectile dysfunction in some men. The following is a list of some of the more common ones:
- smoking and smokeless tobacco
- drug abuse and addiction involving heroin, cocaine, and other mind-altering drugs
- cimetidine, a drug sometimes used to treat peptic ulcers or gastro-oesophageal reflux
- some diuretics, or "fluid pills." These are commonly used to treat high blood pressure, leg swelling, and congestive heart failure.
- some high blood pressure medications. These include a commonly prescribed class of drugs called beta-blockers.
- medications used to treat depression. These include amitriptyline, fluoxetine, sertraline, paroxetine, and others.
- medications used to treat psychosis, such as risperidone or haloperidol
- sedatives such as diazepam
- finasteride. This drug is used to treat benign prostatic hyperplasia or to prevent baldness.
Other drugs may cause erectile dysfunction in some men as well. For most men who take these drugs, erectile dysfunction is not a problem. Others are completely unable to have an erection while using the drug.
If erectile dysfunction starts shortly after a man begins taking a new drug, the drug is the most likely cause of the problem. In some cases, erectile dysfunction may not occur until a man has been taking a drug for months. It is not a good idea to stop taking the medication without consulting the doctor. This could cause the condition being treated to return and result in serious health problems. Often, a different drug that does not cause erectile dysfunction can be substituted. If this is not possible, there are other treatment options available to correct erectile dysfunction. For example, the drug sildenafil, commonly known by its brand name Viagra, is a safe and effective treatment for erectile dysfunction for many men. Many other treatments are also possible. Good communication with the doctor is important in diagnosing and treating drug-related erectile dysfunction. Without this, it may be impossible to recognised and treat the problem.
Once the drug that has been causing the erectile dysfunction is discontinued, normal erections should return within a few weeks. Men need to tell the doctor if the problem goes away. If the erectile dysfunction continues, it is probably due to another cause. Further testing can be done to identify the source of the problem.
For men who smoke or use smokeless tobacco, drink alcohol, or use illegal drugs, the first step is to eliminate these substances. This will often resolve the erectile dysfunction. It may take time, however. Men who have used these substances for a long period may suffer erectile dysfunction for life.
Many people feel embarrassed to talk about sexual problems with their doctors. Often, these can often be easily treated once the problem is brought out into the open. The first step is good communication with the doctor so that a solution can be reached.
Reviewer: eknowhow Medical Review Panel
Editor: Dr John Hearne
Last Updated: 1/10/2001
Potential conflict of interest information for reviewers available on request