As a primary care doctor, my most important job is to tailor treatment for my patients, while still making decisions that are based on medical literature. When patients tell me their treatment is causing undesired side effects, I work with them to create a plan to treat the condition while also finding a way to relieve those side effects. Nowhere is this more true than with erectile dysfunction (ED).
There are countless medications used to treat many conditions that can cause or contribute to ED. Some examples include medications used to treat blood pressure, depression, chronic pain, allergies, inflammatory conditions, seizures, and heart conditions.
As you can see from this list of common and significant conditions, there are tens of millions of people at risk of medication induced ED. Unfortunately, many patients will do one of two things when they experience ED due to medication:
  • Stop taking their medication
  • Live with it
Fortunately, there is more they can do. While practicing medicine with underserved populations, I needed to treat a wide variety of conditions with limited resources. I needed to be creative out of necessity. As a result, I came up with a three step approach that works the vast majority of the time to deal with medication induced ED.


The first step in the process is always to reevaluate if the treatment that is causing the problem is even necessary in the first place. I’ve had many examples of this in practice such as a patient taking Xanax for several years after having it prescribed for a particularly stressful period he was going through. He just continued taking it because nobody told him to stop even though he had no need for it anymore.


The second step in this process, if the medication is necessary, is to see whether there is an alternative medication that can adequately treat the condition in question that does not cause ED. A good example of this is a patient taking beta blockers (propranolol) to prevent migraine headaches. If the patient experiences ED due to the propranolol, it can be seen whether the patient experiences the same benefit from Topamax, which is also used to prevent migraines and is not generally associated with ED.


In some cases, it may be decided and there is no suitable alternative. An example would be a patient who suffers severe depression that is controlled well with Paxil, but does not respond to other therapies and causes ED. The last step would be to treat the ED directly. Most often, this can be done with the conventional medications used to treat ED like Viagra, Cialis, and Levitra. Using this three step process works for the vast majority of patients who experience medication induced ED. If you are having ED caused by medications, talk to your doctor about this to see if one of these approaches will work for you. If you don’t have a physician you feel comfortable speaking about this with, please feel free to schedule a free consultation here.