Adderall and Erectile Dysfunction: Is There a Connection?

Adderall is a stimulant medication that is used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy. It is also used illicitly to improve cognitive performance. It is not uncommon for stimulant medications like Adderall to cause side effects that may affect sexual function.

There have been reports of Adderall causing erectile dysfunction (ED). ED is a common condition that affects the ability to get and maintain an erection. It can be caused by physical, psychological, or a combination of both physical and psychological factors.

If you are taking Adderall and are experiencing ED, it’s important to speak with a healthcare provider. They can help determine whether Adderall is causing your ED and recommend appropriate treatment options. Sometimes, switching to a different medication or adjusting the dosage of Adderall may be necessary.

What is Adderall?

Adderall is a stimulant medication that contains amphetamine and dextroamphetamine and is used to treat ADHD and narcolepsy. ADHD is a chronic disorder characterized by difficulty paying attention, hyperactivity, and impulsive behaviors that are present before age 7. The symptoms must cause significant impairment in social, academic, or occupational functioning and be present in at least two settings. Narcolepsy is a sleep disorder that causes excessive daytime sleepiness.

Adderall acts in the brain and spinal cord and increases the amount of dopamine and norepinephrine available for brain cells. These neurotransmitters (chemical messengers) allow brain cells to communicate with one another. Researchers do not fully understand how Adderall and increasing dopamine and norepinephrine levels improve ADHD symptoms.

What are common Adderall side effects?

Adderall is available in a short-acting (lasts about 4 hours) and a longer-acting, extended-release form (Adderall XR) which lasts between 10 and 12 hours.

Side effects associated with Adderall usage include:1

  • Stomachaches
  • Decreased appetite
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Insomnia
  • Nervousness
  • Weight loss
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Upset stomach
  • Headache
  • Diarrhea
  • Anxiety
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Urinary tract infection
  • Dry mouth

Adderall may also cause more serious side effects. Its use is contraindicated in some high-risk populations, including people with advanced arteriosclerosis, cardiovascular disease, moderate to severe high blood pressure, hyperthyroidism, glaucoma, known sensitivity to sympathomimetic amines, or a history of drug abuse.

What causes erectile dysfunction?

Erectile dysfunction is when you cannot get an erection or keep it long enough for penetrative sex. Erectile function is a complex process that begins in the brain and involves the nervous, cardiovascular, and endocrine systems.

There are many potential ED causes, including:

  • Aging
  • Heart disease
  • Blood vessel disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Abnormal blood lipids
  • Venous leakage syndrome
  • Obstructive sleep apnea
  • Prostate cancer treatment
  • Low testosterone levels
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Obesity
  • High prolactin levels
  • Thyroid disease
  • Nerve damage
  • Sexually transmitted infections
  • Prostatitis
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Some prescription drugs
  • Illicit drug use
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Tobacco use
  • Marijuana or cocaine use
  • Depression
  • Performance anxiety
  • Stress
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Relationship issues

How are Adderall and ED connected?

Adderall affects dopamine and norepinephrine levels in your brain, which may impact your mood and cause anxiety and nervousness. Adderall also causes constriction of blood vessels. When blood vessels become narrower, resistance increases, and blood flow decreases. Decreased blood flow into the penis can cause ED.

How commonly does Adderall cause ED?

A study of 1,300 men who used amphetamine without a prescription between the age of 18 and 57 showed that people who used Adderall were more than twice as likely (29.3%) to experience ED as those who did not (11.9%).2 However, a cause-and-effect relationship could not be established.3

Side effects reported by the study participants included:2

  • Reduced erectile rigidity
  • Reduced sexual life satisfaction
  • Delayed ejaculation

Amphetamines in medications such as Adderall can also have the opposite effect. They can enhance sexual drive and orgasmic intensity. The duration of drug use may be more closely linked to ED than the dosing. Although methamphetamine use can increase libido and sexual excitement in the short term, it can cause more sexual dysfunction after long-term use, including during withdrawal.4

erectile dysfunction

How can you treat ED?

Before starting ED treatment, see your doctor for a complete physical exam to discuss the potential link between Adderall use and ED. Your doctor may be able to change your medication to another stimulant type or use a different dosage regimen to reduce or prevent ED symptoms. It is also possible that your body will adjust to Adderall, and the sexual side effects will decrease.

Oral ED medications

Several medications can help with ED. The phosphodiesterase inhibitors (PDE5 inhibitors) — sildenafil, vardenafil, and tadalafil — are the first-line treatment options for ED. They help maintain blood flow into the penis. Their dosages and side effects vary, so it is important to talk with a healthcare provider to find the best medicine for erectile dysfunction (ED). 

Penile injectables

Oral ED medications are effective for roughly 70% of men who use them. Of those who switch to injectable ED medications, 95% get and maintain an erection suitable for penetrative sexual activity.

Injectable medication combinations, such as those in Trimix, are delivered directly into the penis, which reduces side effects. Like oral medications, injectable ED medications increase blood flow into the penis. Read More: Trimix Injections for ED: The Risks and Benefits

Penis pumps

These devices can help draw blood into the penis, leading to an erection. A cylinder is placed over the penis to create a vacuum and draw blood into the corpora cavernosum. A band is left at the base of the penis when the cylinder is removed. The band prevents blood from exiting the penis. The band must be removed within 30 minutes, or damage to the penis may occur.

Penile implants

In cases where other treatments are ineffective, penile implants (artificial devices placed inside the penis) may be an option

Counseling

Anxiety or depression can contribute to ED. Counseling or behavioral therapy may be beneficial in certain situations.

If you have erectile dysfunction or any concerns about your sexual health, contact the medical professionals at Invigor Medical to learn more about ED treatment options.

Looking for treatment plans for sexual health? See how Invigor Medical can help today!

DISCLAIMER

While we strive to always provide accurate, current, and safe advice in all of our articles and guides, it’s important to stress that they are no substitute for medical advice from a doctor or healthcare provider. You should always consult a practicing professional who can diagnose your specific case. The content we’ve included in this guide is merely meant to be informational and does not constitute medical advice.

References

1. Briars L, Todd T. A Review of Pharmacological Management of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. J Pediatr Pharmacol Ther. May-Jun 2016;21(3):192-206. doi:10.5863/1551-6776-21.3.192

2. Chou NH, Huang YJ, Jiann BP. The Impact of Illicit Use of Amphetamine on Male Sexual Functions. J Sex Med. Aug 2015;12(8):1694-702. doi:10.1111/jsm.12926

3. Abdo CHN. Editorial Comment on “The Impact of Illicit Use of Amphetamine on Male Sexual Functions”. The Journal of Sexual Medicine. 2015/08/01/ 2015;12(8):1703-1704. doi:https://doi.org/10.1111/jsm.12954

4.  Farnia V, Shakeri J, Tatari F, AhmadiJuibari T, Yazdchi K, Abdoli N. The evaluation of sexual dysfunction among male patients with methamphetamine abuse and withdrawal. Journal of Substance Use. 2015;20(5):363-366.

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Published: Jan 4, 2023

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