If you’ve been diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), your healthcare provider may prescribe ADHD medication such as Adderall® to help you treat your symptoms and stay focused on specific tasks.
Adderall, which contains the ingredients amphetamine and dextroamphetamine, is a stimulant medication that’s used to treat ADHD.
While Adderall is effective as an ADHD treatment, it may cause certain side effects, including sexual performance issues such as erectile dysfunction.
Below, we’ve explained how Adderall works, as well as the effects it may have on your sexual performance. We’ve also explained what you can do if you experience ED after using Adderall to treat your ADHD symptoms.
Adderall is a prescription medication for ADHD. It contains the active ingredients amphetamine and dextroamphetamine. Adderall is available in a short-acting version and in a longer-acting, extended-release formulation called Adderall XR®.
As a treatment for ADHD, Adderall works by increasing the effects of certain neurotransmitters, such as dopamine, epinephrine and norepinephrine.
These neurotransmitters help to regulate certain aspects of your behavior, including your ability to focus on specific tasks and control impulsive behavior.
In addition to Adderall, a range of other medications are used to treat ADHD, including Ritalin®, Concerta®, Vyvanse® and others.
These medications are typically very effective at treating ADHD. About 70 percent of adults and 70 percent to 80 percent of children experience improvements after starting therapy with Adderall and/or other stimulant medications.
Like many other medications, Adderall can cause certain side effects, including side effects that may affect your sexual health and performance.
In adults, the most frequently reported side effects of Adderall are loss of appetite, insomnia, dry mouth, weight loss, headaches, nausea, anxiety, agitation, diarrhea, asthenia (lack of energy or strength), tachycardia (fast heart rate) and urinary tract infection.
Although it’s not a highly common side effect, between two and four percent of men prescribed Adderall report experiencing erectile dysfunction.
Erectile dysfunction, or ED, can vary in severity. According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, you may have ED if you:
Erections are all about healthy, optimal blood flow. As a stimulant, Adderall can constrict your blood vessels, increase your blood pressure and make it more difficult for blood to flow to the erectile tissue of your penis when you’re sexually aroused.
A variety of factors, from your physical health to your day-to-day habits, may also increase your risk of developing erectile dysfunction.
You may have a higher risk of developing ED if you smoke, drink alcohol excessively, use illicit drugs, are overweight or obese, or if you have a physically inactive lifestyle.
Certain physical and psychological factors may also increase your risk of experiencing erectile dysfunction and other sexual performance issues.
For example, diseases such as heart and blood vessel disease, type 2 diabetes, hypertension (high blood pressure), atherosclerosis (clogged arteries), multiple sclerosis and others are all linked to erectile dysfunction.
Psychological conditions and mental disorders, such as depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, stress and guilt or fear regarding sex, may also cause ED or make your symptoms worse.
Finally, in addition to Adderall, other medications may increase your risk of developing erectile dysfunction. These include antidepressants, prescription sedatives, medications for high blood pressure, appetite suppressants, antiandrogens and others.
Dealing with erectile dysfunction can be a frustrating experience. Luckily, erectile dysfunction is almost always treatable.
If you’ve recently started to experience ED and think your use of Adderall is the cause, it’s best to talk to your healthcare provider.
When you talk to your healthcare provider, make sure to inform them about your symptoms and when they started. ED is a common issue that affects men of all ages, meaning there’s no need to feel embarrassed or worried when you talk to your healthcare provider.
If you feel uncomfortable talking to your regular healthcare provider about ED, you can talk to a licensed healthcare provider online.
Your healthcare provider may suggest making certain changes to your use of Adderall to reduce the severity of your ED and improve your sexual performance. These may include:
In some cases, your healthcare provider may recommend switching to a different medication to treat your ADHD symptoms.
In addition to suggesting changes to the way you use your medication, your healthcare provider may prescribe ED medication to improve your erectile health and sexual performance. A variety of medications are available to treat ED. Common options include:
These medications work by increasing blood flow to the tissue of your penis. Our guide to PDE5 inhibitors (the class of medication common ED drugs belong to) goes into more detail about how these medications work, their advantages, potential side effects and more.
If your ED is related to an underlying health condition, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes or high blood pressure, your healthcare provider may prescribe additional medication.
Finally, it’s often possible to reduce the severity of erectile dysfunction and improve your sexual health by making certain changes to your habits and lifestyle. Try to:
Erectile dysfunction is a known side effect of Adderall that may affect you if you take Adderall or Adderall XR to treat ADHD.
While ED can be frustrating to deal with, it’s almost always treatable by using ED medication or making changes to your lifestyle and habits.
If you’ve recently experienced ED and want to take action, you can talk to a licensed healthcare provider to learn more about your options and, if appropriate, receive a prescription to purchase ED medication online.