by Frieda Wiley | Men’s Journal
Many things can affect your ability to achieve an erection, but erectile dysfunction generally boils down to one major issue — lack of blood flow. Either not enough blood comes into the penis or the blood leaves the penis too quickly to achieve or sustain an erection.
“When it comes to erectile dysfunction, the healthier the person, the healthier the sexual function,” says Dr. David Cozzolino, urologist with Christiana Care Health System and Brandywine Urology Consultants. “The healthier you are, the healthier your erection will be.”
The usual culprits — heart disease or lack of exercise — should be the first to blame; these will kill your sex quick. But many drugs can also do damage down there. Here are eight substances you might be using that can cause erectile dysfunction.
Antidepressants are some of the biggest culprits for erectile dysfunction. Some antidepressants — like Prozac, Paxil, and Lexapro — can decrease libido and actually delay ejaculation. This is written in the patient information handouts that come with these prescriptions. However, the fact that these drugs delay ejaculation also makes them an effective treatment option for men who suffer from premature ejaculation.
Cigarette and cigar smoke damage blood vessels and reduce blood flow to penile tissue. When restricted, blood flows to the more vital organs first, making the penis one of the last organs to receive blood — even during sex. This side effect is not gender-specific: Regular tobacco use affects sexual function in women, too.
Blood Pressure Medication
Blood pressure medications decrease blood flow to the penis, which can exacerbate the effects of blood vessels that have already been damaged by high blood pressure. Several studies indicate that blood pressure medications can cause erectile dysfunction, but some blood pressure medications are meds bigger offenders than others. Water pills like hydrocholorothiazide are perhaps the worst culprit, according to several studies, followed by beta blockers like propranolol and calcium channel blockers like nifedipine. Beta blockers both decrease blood flow and also lower the heart rate, making blood flow to the penis even more difficult. The science doesn’t explain why water pills are worse, but studies show that sexual function improves in patients taking water pills after they lose weight.