Medically reviewed by Susan Kerrigan, MD and Marianne Madsen
Additions/comments by Urologist Steven N. Gange, MD
When most men want to engage in intercourse, they often don’t have to think about getting or maintaining an erection. But for some men, this seemingly simple act becomes complicated. It might take them a much longer time to become erect, and they might lose the erection relatively quickly. They may not even be able to get to that point at all.
For many men who may be used to bragging about their sexual prowess, something like erectile dysfunction happening when it’s time to get down to the act is a source of great embarrassment. Some may choose to ignore it or abandon a sex life altogether. The majority will choose not to talk about it at all, which means that whatever the problem is, it won’t get solved. In general, people don’t like to feel like there’s something wrong with them.
Going To The Doctor
But here’s why it’s important to talk about it: for some men, the condition of erectile dysfunction exists because of underlying health issues. If there’s something that’s not functioning as it should, going to a doctor will get you on the path to discovering what’s wrong so you can fix it. For some men, erectile dysfunction can be a seriously unpleasant side effect of taking certain medications that are helping other conditions. This is why it’s important to be aware of all the medications you’re taking and to track how they make you feel.
In fact, according to the Harvard Medical School, one of the reasons older men may be more plagued with erectile dysfunction is not because their advanced age may make it harder to get and keep it up. It could simply have to do with the fact that men in that age group tend to be on a variety of medications.
Medications & Erectile Dysfunction
One class of medication that seems to go hand-in-hand with erectile dysfunction is the class that treats high blood pressure. In a study that surveyed more than 1.9 million men, researchers found that men with high blood pressure are about 38% more likely to have erectile dysfunction than men whose blood pressure was in the normal range.
Another medication that links erectile dysfunction to an older age range is one called Propecia. This particular medication is used to treat baldness. While not all men reported erectile dysfunction as a side effect, enough of them did (1.3%) that it should be something to be aware of–especially if you are a man on the younger side who uses this medication.
Other medications that can cause erectile dysfunction include antidepressants, diuretics, and drugs that treat ulcers, heart failure, liver failure, and certain types of kidney disease.
Even if you are experiencing erectile dysfunction and can link it to whatever medication you might be taking, it is incredibly important that you not stop a medication on your own, because sudden withdrawal often has side effects that are just as unsavory. Instead, make an appointment with your doctor to discuss what’s going on. Depending on the medication you’re taking, your doctor may be able to switch it out to one without this particular side effect.