Many physiological and psychological factors, including medication, can cause erectile dysfunction (ED). In this article, we discuss the connection between Adderall and ED, how to manage ED caused by Adderall, and when it’s time to see a doctor.
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Adderall is a prescribed medication to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in adults and children. It contains a blend of amphetamine and dextroamphetamine to balance chemicals in the brain.
As a nervous system stimulant,¹ Adderall may increase attention and decrease impulsiveness and hyperactivity if you have ADHD.²
When other prescription medications have been ineffective, doctors may prescribe Adderall for uncontrollable episodes of deep sleep, called narcolepsy.³ Adderall is a suitable treatment as the drug increases energy and attention.
Adderall may cause cardiovascular events such as heart disease and sudden strokes. Therefore, doctors should not prescribe it to people with preexisting cardiac abnormalities. Other side effects include:
Increased blood pressure
Loss of appetite
Nausea and vomiting
Urinary tract infection (UTI)
Tachycardia (increased heart rate)
Long-term growth suppression
Reduced blood flow
Reduced sex drive
The following side effects are less common but more severe. Contact your health professional immediately if you experience any of the following symptoms:
Psychosis or manic episodes
Tics and uncontrollable movements
Frequent and prolonged erections
A multitude of things can cause erectile dysfunction (ED). Although you’re more likely to experience ED as you age, it’s a common side effect of many prescription medications and health conditions.
ED can significantly affect your relationships, mental health, and confidence.
The following health conditions can cause ED:
Type 2 diabetes
High blood pressure
Injury to the penis, pelvis, prostate, bladder, or spinal cord
Certain medicines can cause ED:
High blood pressure medicines
Parkinson's disease medicines
Chemotherapy and hormonal medicines
Psychological factors can cause ED:
Stress about sexual performance and life
Physical factors can cause ED:
Illicit drug use ⁴
Maintaining an erection requires blood flow, hormones, and receptive nerves from the penis and the brain. This means any changes to physical and neurological pathways may cause ED.
ED is the inability to attain or maintain an erection for successful intercourse. It’s a common sexual health issue in men over 40 and may also be a side effect of your medication.
ED can cause emotional distress for you and your partner; however, you can use various methods to address and correct your ED.
Adderall can cause erectile dysfunction as it impacts the cardiovascular system. It affects blood flow and the constriction of blood vessels which may impede your ability to develop and maintain an erection.
You may be able to plan sexual intercourse to align with when Adderall is no longer in your system. Scheduling your sexual interactions around your medication may reduce your likelihood of experiencing ED. Your prescription's half-life and release rate will vary depending on your dosage, so ask your doctor about your specific case.
If you’ve recently started taking Adderall, your body may need time to adjust as it can take several weeks for side effects to subside.
In clinical trials, participants achieved the desired result of Adderall after 3–4 weeks, which is something to consider when introducing a new medication into your routine.
Exercising regularly and eating a balanced diet consisting of fruits, vegetables, and foods low in saturated fat and sodium are great steps toward a healthier body. These promote healthy blood pressure, heart function, and weight loss. These improvements may increase blood flow to the penis for desired sexual performance and aid in preventing organic erectile dysfunction.⁵
Smoking and drinking have clear links to sexual dysfunction in many people. These drugs disrupt or change neurotransmitters, the hormones that allow brain cells to communicate with each other (specifically serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine), affecting hormone release and blood flow.
This disruption can cause decreased sexual arousal, desire, and function, and Adderall can contribute to these effects. Reducing tobacco and alcohol intake may reduce your experiences with ED.
Decreased sex drive and ED can also be a result of psychological stress, and these have links to episodes of depression⁶ and anxiety.⁷
Adderall can contribute to sexual dysfunction associated with these conditions. If you’re feeling stressed, depressed, or anxious, you may want to seek therapy to address these emotions to improve your sexual relationships.
Talk to your doctor if you think Adderall is affecting your sexual performance. They may adjust your dosage, change your medication, or introduce ED medication to ease the unwanted side effects of Adderall.
Everyone’s body responds differently to a new medication, so it’s crucial to maintain communication with your healthcare provider to discuss the side effects you experience.
You may have an underlying health issue, and further discussions with your doctor may identify the need for a different treatment plan suited to your needs.
Adderall stimulates the production of the hormones dopamine and norepinephrine³ in the brain. Dopamine is released when you have positive experiences, so it’s sometimes called the “feel-good hormone.”
Norepinephrine affects the circulatory system: Blood pressure, breathing, and heart rate.
Sudden withdrawal from Adderall triggers a chemical imbalance in the brain, causing symptoms such as fatigue, anxiety, increased appetite, insomnia, agitation, and unpleasant moods. Talk to your doctor if you are considering discontinuing Adderall.
Adderall can cause ED; however, you may have other causes of the condition, and the drug affects people differently. It’s always best to seek advice from a healthcare professional if you’re struggling with your medication’s side effects.
You can use various methods to control ED, so talk to a trusted professional to find what works best for you.
Dextroamphetamine-amphetamine | NIH: National Library of Medicine
Adderall | Food and Drug Administration
Prescription stimulants drug facts | NIH: National Institute on Drug Abuse
Depression and sexual desire (2000)