Beta Blocker Sexual Side Effects
Sexual problems that may occur with beta blockers include a decreased sex drive, impotence, or an abnormal curvature of the penis. If you develop any sexual side effects while taking a beta blocker, let your healthcare provider know so he or she can recommend an erectile dysfunction medication or prescribe an alternative medication for the beta blocker.
Beta blockers are known to cause certain sexual side effects. Reported sexual side effects of beta blockers include:
- Decreased sex drive (decreased libido)
- Impotence (also known as erectile dysfunction, or ED)
- Peyronie's disease (abnormal curvature of the penis).
It is difficult to say with certainty how frequently sexual side effects occur with beta blockers, for a few different reasons. There is some debate as to whether or not beta blockers really cause sexual problems or not. Although sexual problems (especially impotence) are classically known as beta blocker side effects, some studies suggest that this may actually not be the case.
It is important to understand that beta blockers are frequently used in older individuals (who are more likely to have sexual problems) and people with high blood pressure (who are also more likely to have sexual problems). This makes it difficult to know if the sexual side effects are actually caused by the medication or other factors (such as age or high blood pressure).
To make matters even more confusing, there are several different beta blockers available, including oral beta blockers, injectable beta blockers, and beta blocker eye drops. It is likely that these medications may produce sexual side effects at different rates. Additionally, the prescribing information for most beta blocker medications is quite vague when describing the frequency of sexual side effects. Often, these sexual side effects are reported to occur "less frequently" (without any specific percentages mentioned).
There was an interesting study that was conducted on whether being aware that impotence was a possible side effect of beta blockers would actually cause the sexual problem. Researchers found that people who knew that impotence was a side effect of beta blockers were more likely to develop impotence. Their conclusion was that "the knowledge and prejudice about side effects of beta blockers can produce anxiety that may cause erectile dysfunction."
Interestingly, this study also found that a placebo (a "sugar pill" that does not contain any active ingredients) was just as effective as sildenafil (Viagra®) for reversing impotence in these men taking a beta blocker.