Medically reviewed by Vicky Davis, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
Last updated 9/13/2021
According to a scientific research review, about 25 percent of erectile dysfunction is caused by medication.
And while there are many different types of medications that can lead to ED, blood pressure meds have a particularly bad rap.
Something else to know: ED is not uncommon at all. Research shows that over 50 percent of men between the ages of 40 and 70 likely experience ED at some point.
Some believe the reason this number is higher for older men is that older men are more likely to be on medication — like blood pressure meds.
Wondering what blood pressure medications do and do not affect sexual function? Keep reading.
The below medications for blood pressure are most commonly associated with erectile dysfunction side effects:
This prescription pill slows the heart rate by limiting certain naturally occurring hormones that can make it spike (like adrenaline).
In addition to ED, other potential beta blocker side effects can include tiredness, cold fingers, and asthma symptoms.
One study in the European Heart Journal found that ED caused by beta blockers could be psychological. Some study participants were told ED was a side effect, while others were not — and of those told, a third reported ED issues.
Of those not told ED could be a side effect, only three percent reported ED.
This blood pressure drug is in a class of medications called diuretics (a.k.a. water pills). Hydrochlorothiazide (HCTZ) helps reduce blood pressure by assisting the kidneys in getting rid of unneeded water and salt through urine.
HCTZ can be taken alone or in conjunction with other meds. It’s important to note that it doesn’t cure blood pressure — so it needs to be taken on an ongoing basis.
And when taken in high doses, HCTZ can lead to erectile dysfunction.
Other side effects can include headache, hair loss, frequent urination, diarrhea and loss of appetite.
Now that you know which blood pressure medications could lead to erectile dysfunction, it’s time to learn about the ones that don’t.
Alpha blockers assist in lowering blood pressure by reducing your arteries’ resistance and relaxing muscle tone in your vascular walls.
This medication is sold under the brand names Cardura, Minipress and Hytrin, or the generic names doxazosin mesylate, prazosin hydrochloride and terazosin hydrochloride.
Some side effects associated with taking alpha blockers are dizziness and an accelerated heart rate.
The acronym in ACE inhibitors stands for Angiotensin-converting-enzyme. These medications are used to treat high blood pressure, along with kidney and heart issues.
ACE inhibiting medications work by lessening the effects of angiotensin-converting-enzymes in your body.
These enzymes can narrow your blood vessels, therefore increasing blood pressure. And by reducing activity of these enzymes, ACE Inhibitors can help manage high blood pressure.
Some side effects associated with ACE Inhibitors include a dry cough, headache, fatigue and loss of appetite.
Known as ARBs, this type of medication is commonly used to treat high blood pressure. ARBs work by limiting the effects of angiotensin 2, a hormone that restricts blood vessels (and therefore can increase blood pressure).
ARBs are often given in conjunction with HCTZ medications.
The most common side effect some people experience when taking ARBs is dizziness. If you notice this, it’s important to speak with a healthcare professional.
If you are dealing with ED, whether it’s from high blood pressure medication or otherwise, there are a number of proven treatment options. Check them out!
Sildenafil is a phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitor (PDE5 inhibitor).
It works by relaxing the muscles in the penis and increasing blood flow to the penis during sexual stimulation.
Known under the brand name Cialis®, tadalafil is another commonly prescribed ED pill. Like sildenafil, it is a PDE5 inhibitor.
Tadalafil lasts for up to 36 hours, which is why it’s often referred to as the “weekend” ED medication.
As the active ingredient in Levitra®, vardenafil works within 30 to 60 minutes of consumption, and lasts for about five hours.
Research on it’s affectiveness showed that 75 percent of men said they got an erection that was good enough for sex after using the 10mg dose. Eighty percent of men said the same after taking a 20mg dose.
Also known as the brand name Stendra®, this PDE5 inhibitor is one of the newer ED medications.
It works quickly — after just 15 minutes — and is thought to cause fewer side effects.
A vibrator can be used to stimulate the penis so that blood flows to the area, whereas a penis pump may pull blood into the penis by creating suction.
Once you’ve used the pump, you can then place a plastic ring around the base of your penis to keep the blood there.
Inflatable penile implants work in a similar way.
An external support device called the Erektor® is a relatively new option featuring two rings attached to either side of a rod.
When you place your penis through the rings, the rod can provide rigidity for penetrative sex.
Depression and anxiety can affect many areas of your life — including your sex drive and ability to get an erection.
In fact, research has found that around 20 percent of ED cases are caused by mental health issues.
Therapy for ED can help resolve these issues. A mental health professional can walk you through ways of dealing with ED issues.
High blood pressure is a health condition that should be taken seriously, and you may be put on medication to help manage it.
If you feel you might be prone to ED or just don’t even want to worry about it, knowing which blood pressure medications could result in sexual dysfunction and which should not can help you come up with a game plan.
Talk to your healthcare provider about whether or not you can take one of the medications that is not associated with ED.
If you do need to take one of the pills that has a risk of erectile dysfunction, you can then talk about different ED treatments you can consider while you’re on that medication. This way, you can still enjoy a healthy sex life while improving your health all around.