Sexual Side Effects of Naproxen

Angela Sheddan

Medically reviewed by Angela Sheddan, FNP

Written by Our Editorial Team

Last updated 5/1/2023

What are the main naproxen side effects, sexually speaking? Here’s everything you need to know.

When you have a headache or other aches and pains, you may reach for pain relievers known as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), like ibuprofen or naproxen, without a second thought.

It’s estimated that around 15 percent of the U.S. population regularly uses an NSAID. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug use is so common that you can buy over-the-counter (OTC) naproxen for certain ailments.

But even though these drugs are extremely common, they’re not without adverse effects. Naproxen and other NSAIDs may cause side effects, including some that may be surprising — like sexual side effects, such as erectile dysfunction (ED).

Do you take naproxen regularly? Here’s what you need to know about naproxen side effects sexually.

Everything You Need to Know About Naproxen

As mentioned above, naproxen is a type of drug known as a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug. It can be prescribed by a healthcare professional or bought over the counter at a pharmacy or online.

A prescription naproxen oral tablet is available as both a generic medication and a brand-name drug. You may recognize some naproxen brand names, such as Aleve®, Anaprox®, Anaprox® DS, Naprelan® and Naprosyn®.

What Naproxen Treats

Prescription naproxen is used for a variety of ailments, including:

  • Rheumatoid arthritis

  • Osteoarthritis

  • Menstrual pain

  • Tendonitis

Meanwhile, nonprescription over-the-counter naproxen is used to reduce fever and relieve mild pain from headaches, muscle aches, arthritis, period pain and backaches, among other discomforts.

How Naproxen Works

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs reduce pain, inflammation and fever. While it isn’t fully understood how the medication decreases pain, it’s thought that naproxen may reduce swelling by lowering levels of prostaglandin, a hormone-like substance that can cause inflammation.

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Naproxen Dosage and Form

Prescription naproxen comes as an immediate-release oral tablet, a delayed-release oral tablet, an extended-release oral tablet and a liquid.

Nonprescription naproxen is available in a tablet, capsule or gel capsule form. Nonprescription naproxen may be taken with food or milk to prevent nausea.

How often you take each type of naproxen can depend on what ailment you’re using the medication for.

The extended-release oral tablets are usually taken once a day, while the immediate-release oral tablet, delayed-release oral tablet and liquid are typically taken twice a day for arthritis. Meanwhile, the tablets and suspension form of the medication are usually taken every few hours or as needed for pain.

The typical dosage for naproxen varies based on not only what condition is being treated but also factors like age, the severity of your condition and how you react to the first dose.

The typical dosage for arthritis using the immediate-release oral tablet of naproxen, for example, is two 375 mg (milligram) or 500 mg doses per day or one 750 mg daily dose. For pain relief, a typical dosage is two 500 mg tablets once a day.

The maximum dosage for arthritis is 1,650 mg daily for up to six months, while the maximum dosage for migraines and headaches is only 1,375 mg daily.

A healthcare professional may recommend starting with the lowest effective initial dose for the shortest possible duration.

Common Side Effects

As with any medication, there’s always a possibility of experiencing side effects while taking naproxen, as well as more adverse effects — including sexual side effects.

The most typical side effects that occur with naproxen immediate-release oral tablets include:

  • Upper stomach pain

  • Muscle pain

  • Constipation

  • Dizziness

  • Heartburn

  • Gas

  • Diarrhea

  • Nausea and vomiting

  • Skin rash or other allergic reactions

You can also experience more adverse reactions to naproxen:

  • Confusion

  • Loss of appetite

  • Changes in vision

  • Shortness of breath

  • Chest pain

  • Swelling in the abdomen, ankles, feet or legs

  • Signs of infection

  • Rash or hives

  • Fatigue

  • Flu-like symptoms

  • Fast heartbeat or high blood pressure

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Is It Possible to Experience Naproxen Side Effects Sexually?

If you deal with arthritis or use pain relievers for headaches, there’s a good chance you use naproxen. Taking this medication and other NSAIDs comes with the risk of experiencing side effects. But can you experience naproxen side effects sexually? Possibly.

In a large study published in the Journal of Urology, people who reported taking NSAIDs three times a day for more than three months were more likely to experience erectile dysfunction.

It’s thought that NSAIDs like naproxen may cause erectile dysfunction because they help stop prostaglandin production — the hormone-like substance associated with swelling and inflammation.

Prostaglandin can also either widen or narrow blood vessels. Part of how an erection works is that blood vessels in the penis relax and widen to increase blood flow to the erectile tissue. So people who use naproxen may have fewer prostaglandins to reduce inflammation and can potentially develop erectile dysfunction.

However, newer studies have found that while experiencing naproxen side effects sexually could happen, the risk is lower than what was previously found.

Other research suggests that NSAIDs may not cause sexual dysfunction at all. Rather, there’s a higher risk of developing erectile dysfunction or experiencing sexual side effects like a lower sex drive as you get older.

Other factors that may cause erectile dysfunction include certain medical conditions like heart disease or chronic conditions like diabetes.

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What to Know about the Sexual Side Effects of Naproxen

Naproxen, a type of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug, is one of the most common pain relievers.

  • NSAIDs, like any medication, can cause various adverse effects with the possibility of experiencing naproxen side effects sexually.

  • Research on the relationship between sexual side effects and NSAIDs is mixed — although naproxen is still listed among medications that can lead to erectile dysfunction and affect sexual performance.

  • It’s not clear if NSAIDs directly cause erectile dysfunction or other sexual problems. It may be that people who take these medications also have medical conditions that increase their risk of erectile dysfunction.

While the side effects and adverse effects are still being studied, NSAIDs are generally very safe medications when used at the recommended doses for short periods.

If you’re experiencing erectile dysfunction or other sexual issues, consulting with a healthcare provider can help determine the possible cause. Depending on the cause, they may recommend medications like sildenafil (Viagra®) or tadalafil (Cialis®) to improve blood flow.

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11 Sources

Hims & Hers has strict sourcing guidelines to ensure our content is accurate and current. We rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We strive to use primary sources and refrain from using tertiary references.

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  6. Prostaglandins. (n.d.). You and Your Hormones. Retrieved from
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  8. Li, T., Wu, C., Fu, F., Qin, F., Wei, Q., & Yuan, J. (2018). Association between use of aspirin or non-aspirin non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and erectile dysfunction: A systematic review. Medicine, 97(28). Retrieved from
  9. Chung, E. (2019). Sexuality in Ageing Male: Review of Pathophysiology and Treatment Strategies for Various Male Sexual Dysfunctions. Medical Sciences, 7(10). Retrieved from
  10. Symptoms & Causes of Erectile Dysfunction | NIDDK. (n.d.). National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Retrieved from
  11. Drugs that may cause erection problems. (2021, January 10). MedlinePlus. Retrieved from

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment. Learn more about our editorial standards here.