Adderall: Side Effects to Consider in Men

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Adderall is a stimulant medication used to treat ADHD. It acts on the central nervous system and increases the amount of neurotransmitters, such as dopamine and norepinephrine, in the brain. This results in an increased attention and focus and a reduction in hyperactivity and impulsive behavior.

Adderall contains dextroamphetamine and amphetamine and is available in a short-acting formula, which lasts approximately four hours, and in an extended release formula (Adderall XR), which lasts between 10 to 12 hours.

It was approved to treat ADHD in 1996 by the FDA and can be prescribed to people who are 6 years and older.

As with all drugs, there can be side effects with Adderall. They can include nervousness, dizziness, headaches, problems with sleep, dry mouth, vision problems, diarrhea, loss of appetite, weight loss, hair loss, increase in both blood pressure and heart rate, numbness of arms and legs, tics, seizures, hallucinations, and paranoia. For men, there may be additional side effects.

Adderall's Side Effects in Men

Erectile dysfunction (ED) is a side effect for men taking Adderall. Men report a decreased interest in sex and difficulty getting and keeping an erection. This change in sex drive or sexual performance can cause distress and embarrassment.

Why Does Adderall Cause ED?

One of the effects of Adderall is constriction of certain blood vessels in the body, directing blood away from the extremities, and increasing the blood supply to other parts of the body involved in the fight or flight response.

But this means that there is a decrease in blood flow to the penis. Many men report that their genitals shrink while the medication is active in their body. But do not worry; this is temporary. Typically, once the effects of the medication have worn away, sexual desire and performance return to what is normal for you.

Speak to Your Doctor

Although you might feel shy or embarrassed to speak to your doctor, it is important to tell them about any erectile dysfunction you are experiencing. Doctors understand that it is a common side effect of Adderall and will want to help you to resolve the problem.

Your doctor may suggest one of the following solutions.

Plan Ahead

Some men do not take their usual dose of Adderall if they know they are going to be having sex. Or they can wait until the medication is out of their system before having sex.

Lower Dose

Taking a lower dosage of Adderall might still be helpful in reducing ADHD symptoms while not resulting in erectile dysfunction.

Medication Change

As with all medications, there is a balance between treating a condition and managing the side effects.

There are 2 types of stimulant medication available to treat ADHD, the amphetamine family (Adderall) and methylphenidate (e.g. Ritalin). If one stimulant family causes side effects that cannot be tolerated, the prescribing physician will often suggest trying the other type.

Each group of drugs affects an individual differently. The only way to know how you will respond to a medication is through trial and error. There are also non-stimulant medication options too.

Let Your Body Adjust

Some men experience ED when they first start taking Adderall, then as their body adjusts to the new medication over the course of several weeks the problems subside. Because each human body responds to medication slightly differently, it is not possible to know how the medication will affect you.

A Prescription of Viagra

ED can be a result of many factors, including psychological factors like stress and anxiety. If a person tried to have sex while Adderall was still in effect and experienced ED, the memory of this can cause performance anxiety in the future.

Taking a Viagra tablet helps to get and maintain an erection, which helps to counteract the side effects of Adderall.

You might feel that Viagra or a similar medication is for ‘older’ people. However, many young males take it to help with ED.

Even at times when Adderall is not in their body, having a prescription of Viagra has a psychological advantage as well as a physical one. Knowing that you have Viagra in your medicine cabinet just in case you need it, gives you a psychological boost. With time you will feel more confident as you get to know your body and how it responds to Adderall.

Do Not Stop Adderall Abruptly

If you are experiencing ED and think it is due to Adderall, you might be tempted to stop taking your medication. However, it is advisable to discuss this with your physician first, as there are various unpleasant physical and psychiatric symptoms that may accompany stimulant withdrawal.

Consider an Underlying Health Problem

Even if you think Adderall is the cause of ED,  it is still important to tell your doctor as it could be a sign of an underlying health problem such as diabetes or heart disease, problems with the liver or kidneys, hormone problems including testosterone, a neurological disease, or depression.

Considering Other Medication

It could be that ED is caused by another medication you are taking. There are many medications that are known to cause ED from cancer chemotherapy like Cytoxan (cyclophosphamide) to over the counter antihistamines like Benadryl (diphenhydramine).

Medications used to treat conditions that frequently co-exist with ADHD can also result in ED.  For example, SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) such as Paxil (Paroxetine), and Zoloft (sertraline), used to treat depression and anxiety, antihypertensive drugs used to treat high blood pressure such as HydroDiuril® (hydrochlorothiazide) and Catapres® (Clonidine), which is an antihypertensive drug that might be prescribed to treat ADHD alone or in addition to Adderall.

Considering Lifestyle Factors

Consuming high levels of alcohol, marijuana, nicotine and cocaine can also result in ED. Lack of exercise, sleep, and stress could be contributing factors.

This is good news because these are factors that you are in control of. By making changes to your lifestyle, you can become physically healthier and improve ED problems.

Does Adderall Increase Sex Drive?

While many men report that Adderall negatively affects their sex life, some men experience the opposite. They find it increases their sex drive and do not experience ED. This varies from person to person. In fact stimulants like Adderall are sometimes used to treat the sexual side effects that may accompany certain antidepressant medications.

Can Natural Treatments Help?

There are some natural treatments that might help for ED. While natural products such as supplements and vitamins can sound like a great solution, be cautious. Natural does not automatically mean safe. Natural options can interact with prescription medication you are taking. Always check with your doctor or pharmacist before taking natural products.

Having problems with ED can be stressful and cause anxiousness, depression, and affect your self-esteem. Remember, ED is not a reflection on your character, it just means there is a problem that needs to be solved.

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