Alprazolam (Xanax) is a benzodiazepine mainly used for treatment of generalized anxiety disorder and panic disorder. It’s sometimes used to treat anxiety associated with depression, as well as certain sleep disorders. It can also be helpful in treating alcohol withdrawal. It’s available by prescription only.
Erectile dysfunction (ED) is when you frequently can’t get an erection or can’t hold an erection long enough to have sex. One of the most common reasons for ED is poor blood flow to the penis.
Some medications, including Xanax, may be a contributing factor in ED.
Medications affect each person differently. There are many potential side effects of Xanax, but it’s unlikely you’ll have them all. Some of the more common ones are fatigue, dizziness, and impaired coordination. Additional side effects include:
- difficulty concentrating
- increased heart rate
- feelings of restlessness and irritability
- memory impairment
Some people taking benzodiazepines do things in their sleep that they can’t remember when they’re awake.
Side effects usually happen when you first start taking Xanax. In time, your body may adjust to the medication.
As with any medication, Xanax can have dangerous interactions with other drugs.
It’s a depressant that affects neurotransmitters in your brain. This drug slows down your central nervous system and nerve impulses throughout your body. That effect is greater if you take another central nervous system depressant or drink alcohol.
It’s possible to become physically or emotionally dependent on Xanax. Using the medication as prescribed is important.
Several of the side effects of Xanax may interfere with your sex life. Because it depresses your central nervous system, Xanax can affect your libido. Decreased libido can make it difficult to get an erection.
Consuming alcohol alone can cause ED, and adding alcohol to Xanax can amplify this side effect.
However, there haven’t been enough studies to clearly show how Xanax causes sexual dysfunction, including difficulty maintaining an erection. And if you take other medications in addition to Xanax, finding the cause of ED is more complicated.
Also, the relationship between anxiety and depression and ED is complex. Anxiety and depression can cause ED even if you don’t take Xanax or any other medication. And a 2015 study showed that ED can cause anxiety and depression. That’s why it’s important to work with your healthcare team to find the underlying diagnosis.
If you take several prescription drugs in addition to Xanax, you could experience more side effects. Some combinations of drugs could cause ED or make it worse.
You may also process drugs more slowly depending on your age and other health conditions. That could increase your side effects. Make sure that all of your doctors know about all the medications you currently take.
It’s not always clear what causes ED. Besides anxiety and depression, some other causes of ED include:
- alcohol consumption
- heart disease
- circulatory disorders
- low testosterone
- diabetes or metabolic syndrome
- Parkinson’s disease
- multiple sclerosis
- Peyronie’s disease
- substance abuse
- sleep disorders
- enlarged prostate or prostate cancer treatment
- injuries to the pelvis or spinal cord
Smoking and not getting enough exercise are also associated with ED. Often, ED involves a combination of things.
Getting and maintaining an erection is dependent on a complex system of checks and balances. Your hormonal system, vascular system, and central nervous system each play a crucial role. A problem with any one of them can interfere with an erection. It’s important that you have an accurate assessment of the problem so treatment can be tailored to your individual needs.
If you suspect your Xanax use is causing sexual dysfunction, talk to your doctor about the side effects, but don’t adjust the dose or stop taking it on your own. Your doctor prescribed Xanax for a reason, and your anxiety or other mood symptoms could worsen if you stop taking it. You could also experience withdrawal. Withdrawal symptoms could include:
- increased heart rate
If you had ED before taking Xanax, and you’re taking it to treat anxiety or depression, you might want to give it some time. Xanax may actually help resolve the ED.
If Xanax is found to be the problem, adjusting the dose may help. It’s also possible that your side effects will ease up as your body adjusts to the new medication. If not, your doctor may be able to recommend an alternate treatment.
In the meantime, do what you can to reduce stress in your life and get rid of bad habits. If you smoke, ask your doctor to help you stop. Also, try to get a little exercise each day, skip the alcohol, and aim for a full night’s sleep.