Medicinal causes of erectile dysfunction

This refers to various forms of medication which can cause impotence and other sexual problems. These types of medications include the following:

  • High blood pressure medication
  • Diuretics
  • Antidepressants
  • Fibrates
  • Immunosuppressants
  • Antipsychotic medication
  • Anticonvulsant medication
  • H2-antagonists
  • Corticosteroids

High blood pressure medication

This includes ACE inhibitors, calcium channel blockers, diuretics and beta blockers. These various types of medication are designed to lower blood pressure and need to be taken on a regular basis.

But most forms of medication have side effects which include impotence. Diuretics and beta blockers can both cause impotence although these tend to be uncommon.

If you are taking a high blood pressure medication such as these and are concerned about impotence then speak to your GP. He or she can recommend an alternative form of medication.


This type of medication works by removing excess fluid from the body. It does this by causing the kidneys to produce more urine which is then excreted from the body.

Diuretics are often known as ‘ water tablets’.

There are three types of diuretics: loop diuretics, thiazide diuretics and potassium-sparing diuretics. One particular side effect of thiazide diuretics is impotence.

If you are taking thiazide diuretics then ask your GP about this side effect and if there is an alternative.


Antidepressants are a commonly prescribed drug for depression. There are two types of medication for this condition which are tricyclic antidepressants and selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors.

Both of these are effective at treating moderate to severe forms of depression. They are equally effective at treating chronic pain and anxiety.

But there are side effects with antidepressants. Some of these are more common than others and do tend to settle down after a period of time. So if you experience any of these it is worth persevering with them until they do so.

Dry mouth, tiredness and blurred vision are just a few of the more common side effects. Less common are headaches, dizziness, insomnia and sexual problems such as erectile dysfunction.

Speak to your GP about these and other side effects. Do NOT immediately stop taking antidepressants but talk to your GP first before you do so.


Fibrates are a type of medication which lowers cholesterol levels in the blood. It also reduces triglycerides “ another group of fats, in the blood as well. They do this by breaking down these fats within the bloodstream.

Fibrates are les commonly prescribed compared to statins but they are ideal for patients who for some reason, are cannot take to statins or who have excessively high triglyceride levels.

But like any form of medication they do cause side effects although these tend to be temporary only. These include double vision, dizziness, anaemia and an upset stomach.

Fibrates and statins can cause impotence although this is more of a problem for fibrates. But the risk is low in either case.

If you are taking statins or fibrates and are worried about impotence then speak with your GP. He/she will discuss this with you and can suggest an alternative if need be. But, please remember that this is a rare occurrence.


This is the name for a type of drugs which prevent any activity of the immune system. In other words they suppress the immune system.

They are prescribed as part of a treatment regime for conditions such as multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. Also prescribed following bone marrow or organ transplants to prevent rejection.

But these drugs have side effects which include kidney disease, peptic ulcers, increased hair growth and high blood pressure. Another side effect is impotence.

Immunosuppressants are powerful drugs for treating autoimmune system and inflammatory disease but they do weaken the immune system which leaves it susceptible to infections. Plus they cause a whole range of side effects which includes impotence.

Your GP or healthcare professional will discuss these with you beforehand.

Antipsychotic medication

This is a group of drugs which are used to treat a range of mental illness such as schizophrenia, severe anxiety, manic depression (bi polar disorder) and other forms of psychosis.

They work by reducing the level of neurotransmitters (chemical signals) which are transmitted through nerves within the brain. Examples of neurotransmitters include serotonin and noradrenaline.

These chemicals are responsible for a range of behaviours including emotions, impulses, and wakefulness and sleeping.

Antipsychotic medications do cause side effects although these vary between individuals. Side effects include dizziness, weight gain, dry mouth, mobility disorders (similar to Parkinson’s disease) and blurred vision.

More serious effects include cardiac arrhythmia, diabetes and metabolic syndrome.

They do affect both the male and female reproductive systems: women find that their periods become irregular plus their breasts increase in size.

Whereas men find that they suffer a loss of libido, impotence or problems with ejaculation.

It is a good idea to discuss these with your GP the next time you visit him/her. He/she may be able to prescribe an alternative form of medication if your current one has caused impotence.

Anticonvulsant medication

The name given to a type of medication which is used to treat epilepsy: and increasingly, bi-polar disorder. They work by suppressing the rapid firing of neurons in the brain which trigger a seizure.

Another name for these is ‘ antiepileptic drugs’.

All forms of medication are safe but do cause side effects which vary according to the dosage, the type of medication and the patient’s response. Everyone reacts differently to the effects of medication which means that some people will experience adverse effects whereas others do not.

Common side effects include tiredness, irritability, dizziness, skin rashes, lack of co-ordination and nausea. Some forms of medication affect blood cells which manifest itself as mouth ulcers, sore throat, fever and a tendency to bruise easily.

Do they cause impotence? There is evidence to show that they can cause a decrease in libido and impotence although this is uncommon.

This and other side effects will be discussed with you by your GP. If you are taking an anticonvulsant medicine and are worried about erectile dysfunction then speak to your GP about an alternative.


This is the name given to a class of drugs which work by blocking histamine H2 receptors which are responsible for the production of stomach acid. This prevents an excess of gastric acid which is a major cause of heartburn, duodenal ulcers and acid reflux.

Another type of histamine “ an H1 antagonist helps to treat allergic reactions such as hay fever which is caused by a hypersensitive reaction to pollen. This results in a runny nose, itchy eyes and sneezing. But an H1 antagonist can help to suppress those symptoms.

H1 and H2 antagonist receptors are part of a group called ‘ antihistamines’. Also known as H2 blockers.

However, they do cause side effects. Not everyone will experience these effects and some people find that there are more severely affected than another person. Everyone reacts differently to medication.

Common side effects include abdominal pain, dizziness, fainting, blurred vision, coughing, flu-like symptoms, joint pain and fatigue.

These are the most common side effects but there are several others although these tend to be rare. They include headache, insomnia, drowsiness, reduction or loss of libido and impotence.

Most side effects disappear over time as your body becomes accustomed to the medication. But if you are concerned by these or have experienced erectile dysfunction (impotence) as a side effect of taking an antihistamine then speak to your GP.


This refers to a group of medicines which contain steroids and are used to treat an inflammation, an autoimmune disorder or replace a hormone.

Do not confuse these with anabolic steroids.

Corticosteroids contain hormones which have a wide range of effects on the body and are effective at treating the following conditions: asthma, lupus, Crohn’s disease and Addison’s disease.

These are a powerful group of drugs which have both positive and negative impacts upon the body. This impact depends upon your medical condition, the type of corticosteroid and the dosage.

Corticosteroids can be injected, inhaled, applied to the skin or taken orally which means that any side effects will be based upon how you take them. So, for example, if you take corticosteroids in a tablet form then you may experience insomnia, weight gain, mood swings and water retention.

More serious effects include high blood pressure, diabetes, glaucoma and osteoporosis. Impotence is another side effect which may occur if corticosteroids are taken for a long period of time.

Again, speak to your GP if you are prescribed these steroids but are worried about the risk of impotence.

© Medic8® | All Rights Reserved