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7 types of medications that can cause erectile dysfunction

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AntidepressantsDiureticsBeta-blockersOther medicationsHow to copeSummary
Erectile dysfunction (ED) is a common condition among males. It can be a side effect of medications like antihistamines, antidepressants, and diuretics.
Medically reviewed by Ami Patel PharmD, BCPS
Written by Suan Pineda
Updated on

ED is a common condition that affects how you can get and maintain an erection.

The possibility of having ED increases with age. But certain health conditions, lifestyles, and medications can also increase the likelihood of experiencing ED.

ED can sometimes be temporary, but it can also happen more often and become long-term. Several medications that treat health conditions like depression and high blood pressure can lead to ED.

Sex and gender exist on spectrums. This article uses the terms “women,” “men,” or both when discussing people assigned female or male at birth to reflect language that appears in source materials. 

While gender is solely about how you identify yourself, independent of your physical body, you may need to consider how your personal circumstances will affect diagnosis, symptoms, and treatment. Learn more about the difference between sex and gender here.


A couple kissing over a table in a kitchen, wondering what medications can cause erectile dysfunction.
Photography by Willie B. Thomas/Getty Images

Antidepressants can affect sexual health because some of these medications — like selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) — affect the levels of serotonin in your body.

Serotonin is a chemical that our bodies make to regulate several functions, such as our moods and sexual function. 

A 2016 study suggests that an increase in the levels of serotonin can affect testosterone and dopamine levels and lead to difficulties with sexual arousal and orgasm. 

Apart from SSRIs, other types of antidepressants can cause ED, such as:

  • tricyclic antidepressants
  • antipsychotics
  • serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs)
  • benzodiazepines

The following antidepressants can lead to difficulties with sexual health:

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Diuretics help your body get rid of excess water and salt. Diuretics can treat conditions like high blood pressure, heart failure, and swollen tissue (known as edema).

Also known as water pills, diuretics can lead to ED because they can decrease blood flow to the penis. A 2017 review on ED lists thiazide diuretics as a common medication associated with ED.

Some diuretics that can cause ED include:


Beta-blockers are medications that help treat high blood pressure. Beta-blockers block the release of adrenaline and noradrenaline.

This slows down the heart rate and lowers the force with which blood is pumped through the body. This can decrease blood flow to the penis and lead to difficulties getting an erection.

A 2021 study into ED and early onset coronary artery disease (EOCAD) suggests that young men with EOCAD were more likely to have ED, and ED was more serious in this population.

Coronary revascularization — a treatment for EOCAD — helped reduce ED. But treatment with beta-blockers prevented improvement in ED.

The study suggests that the negative effects of beta-blockers on ED could mean they shouldn’t be considered a first-line treatment for EOCAD or hypertension for people with ED.

Some beta-blockers that can cause ED include:

Other medications

Some other medications used to treat conditions that have ED as a side effect include:

ED can be a possible side effect of any medication. Discuss your options to manage this condition with a healthcare professional.

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Managing ED

ED can be the result of several factors besides medications. Health conditions, lifestyle practices, and mental health conditions can all lead to ED, which affects nearly 30 million people in the United States. 

ED may be temporary or long-term, depending on the cause. Treatment for ED also depends on what’s causing it. Several options can help you manage it, including:

  • medications like sildenafil (Viagra), tadalafil (Cialis), vardenafil (Levitra), and avanafil (Stendra)
  • ED devices that suction the penis to produce an erection 
  • surgical procedures like penile implants

Some lifestyle practices can also help ease symptoms of ED, such as:

  • eating a balanced diet
  • maintaining a moderate weight
  • exercising about 30 minutes, 5 days a week
  • reducing stress
  • getting quality sleep, from 7–9 hours a day
  • avoiding alcohol and smoking, if applicable


Several factors can cause ED, such as health conditions (diabetes or obesity, among others), mental health conditions, and as a side effect of medications.

Some medications that cause ED as a side effect include diuretics, antidepressants, and beta-blockers.

Talk with a healthcare professional if you’re experiencing symptoms of ED. They can help you determine whether it’s the medication you’re taking that’s causing your symptoms or if it’s another factor.

Download the free Optum Perks Discount Card to save up to 80% on some prescription medications.

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