Adderall is a popular and commonly used amphetamine compound used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy.
You might have heard that Adderall can affect the ability of male users to achieve healthy erections. Is this true? And if it is, how concerned should users be?
In this article, we’ll get into the nitty-gritty of Adderall and its effects. We’ll also provide some recommendations and general information.
Erectile dysfunction (ED) and other sexual changes are indeed some of the known side effects of Adderall. But what is the cause of these adverse effects?
Amphetamine compounds such as Adderall have a potent effect on the cardiovascular system. This, in turn, means they can substantially impact blood flow and the constriction of blood vessels. One of the ways this can manifest is an inability to achieve and/or maintain an erection.
However, this blood flow-related effect does not necessarily have to manifest in ED. It might end up going in the exact opposite direction and cause priapism, a prolonged erection that might continue for hours and isn’t caused by sexual stimulation .
Besides ED, Adderall can also affect a patient’s sex life through changes in libido or “sex drive.” These effects can be unpredictable — some patients experience a loss of interest in sex while others find their sex drive increases dramatically.
In fact, in some cases, certain patients are prescribed stimulants to treat sexual dysfunctions arising from other medications like antidepressants.
PDE5 inhibitors like Viagra relax the blood vessels and increase blood flow, thus helping to treat ED. However, a doctor’s prescription is required to access these drugs, so you’ll have to speak to a professional.
The good news is that Adderall and Viagra do not produce dangerous drug interactions and have generally been found to be safe for concomitant use.
If you’re currently experiencing ED as a result of Adderall use, try out these recommendations:
The elimination half-life of amphetamine compounds is rapid. This means users can schedule their Adderal consumption to align favorably with sexual encounters. In other words, a person can take Adderall in the morning and plan to have a sexual encounter in the night, by which time the drug will be mostly out of their system.
This method has some obvious drawbacks, mainly the reduction of sexual spontaneity. It’s also important to know that some Adderall formulations come in an extended-release form, which can complicate this method as their duration of effects is more long-lasting.
However, peak plasma concentrations aren’t as large in an extended-release form, which might mean a reduced incidence of side effects, including ED.
It is quite common for prescription medications to cause more adverse effects at the beginning of treatment. Allow at least 3 to 4 weeks to go by so your body can adjust and then reassess. If ED or other side effects are still unmanageable, it might be time to speak to your doctor about other treatment options.
Making good lifestyle choices is the best thing anyone can do to improve or treat ED. Common health issues such as obesity, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure are linked to the development of ED, as well as a host of other, more serious health issues.
Before you jump for pharmacological solutions like Viagra, we recommend you at least try and make some improvements in diet and exercise [3, 4]. These solutions can very well help increase blood flow to the penis and thus aid in preventing ED.
Smoking and drinking alcohol are also known contributors to ED . These drugs can disrupt neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine and, in this way, can affect hormone release and blood flow. Consider cutting back on your smoking and drinking, as this could potentially have immediate positive effects on ED .
ED is also associated with certain psychological conditions like anxiety, stress, and depression . These mental ailments may have existed before Adderall treatment, but it’s important to note that amphetamine use can cause or exacerbate them .
When it comes to Adderall, users must exercise a high degree of self-knowledge — ask yourself if you feel more depressed or anxious, and weigh the benefits of treatment with the incidence of these adverse effects.
Adderall consists of a combination of mixed amphetamine salts; it’s composed of equal parts racemic amphetamine and dextroamphetamine, which produces a (3:1) ratio between dextroamphetamine and levoamphetamine, the two enantiomers of amphetamine. An enantiomer, also called an optical isomer, are two identical structures that are mirror images of each other, like a left and right hand.
Adderall is indicated for ADHD and narcolepsy but also has wide off-label usage as a “study drug.” Its ability to enhance a user’s cognitive abilities has made it quite popular in this sense — mostly in college students. Adderall has also been linked to recreational use that is frequently accompanied by alcohol.
As an amphetamine compound, the pharmacology of Adderall is mediated through its effects on the brain’s neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters are chemical messengers that carry signals from neuron to neuron and are associated with a vast swathe of major bodily functions.
There are many different neurotransmitters, and scientists have discovered several pathways by which they might be mediated. In the end though, no matter what mechanism they utilize, amphetamine compounds like Adderall always have the effect of increasing active neurotransmitter levels in the brain.
According to the FDA, Adderall targets both the dopamine and norepinephrine neurotransmitters and utilizes two main pathways:
- It can inhibit the process known as “reuptake” through which active neurotransmitters are reabsorbed back into the presynaptic neuron where they’re no longer active.
- It can effectively stimulate the release of dopamine and norepinephrine from the presynaptic neuron and into the extraneuronal space.
The increased dopamine and norepinephrine neurotransmission caused by Adderall stimulates the central nervous system and has a range of positive effects .
- Better overall mental performance
- Improved attention span
- Improved wakefulness
- Reduce behavioral issues associated with ADHD
There are many side effects to be aware of when deciding to take Adderall :
Cognitive side effects
- Changes in libido
- Psychotic episodes
Physical side effects
- Blurred vision
- Dry mouth
- Elevated blood pressure
- Myocardial infarction
- Prolonged erections
- Serious skin rashes
- Sudden death
- Unpleasant taste
- Heart palpitations
Due to its effects on the cardiovascular system, it is perfectly possible for Adderall to be the cause of ED. In this sense, Adderall’s effects can vary significantly from person to person. Certain men might experience sexual dysfunction while others experience a boost in libido and sexual energy.
If ED was never a problem and only began after Adderall usage, then it can quite likely be assumed that Adderall is the cause. However, that might just be your body adjusting to the drug. Allow some weeks to pass before speaking to your doctor.
During this time, we recommend users get more exercise, manage their diet, and reduce negative mental conditions as much as possible. On their own, these recommendations might be enough to deal with the problem. If not, medication is always an option.
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- Wang, X. M., Bai, Y. J., Yang, Y. B., Li, J. H., Tang, Y., & Han, P. (2018). Alcohol intake and risk of erectile dysfunction: A dose–response meta-analysis of observational studies. International Journal of Impotence Research, 30(6), 342-351.
- Eiland, L. S., Bell, E. A., & Erramouspe, J. (2014). Priapism associated with the use of stimulant medications and atomoxetine for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder in children. Annals of Pharmacotherapy, 48(10), 1350-1355.
- Yang, Y., Song, Y., Lu, Y., Xu, Y., Liu, L., & Liu, X. (2019). Associations between erectile dysfunction and psychological disorders (depression and anxiety): a cross‐sectional study in a Chinese population. Andrologia, 51(10), e13395.
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