young man with allergies

Is There a Connection Between Allergy Meds and Firm Erections?

Highlights 

  • Antihistamines can have a sedative effect and may interfere with the normal functioning of the nervous system, leading to problems with erectile function in some men.
  • Decongestants and corticosteroids can also affect sexual function.
  • PDE5 inhibitors like Viagra and Cialis can help most men get through allergy season with no negative effects on their love lives.
  • There are some side effects and drug interactions to be aware of, so check with your doctor before choosing treatment for allergies and ED.

Dr. Michael DiLeo
Latest posts by Dr. Michael DiLeo (see all)

Allergy medications and erections don’t always go well together. Antihistamines offer quick relief from the symptoms triggered by seasonal allergies, but they can interfere with normal erectile function. 

Allergy Season and Sexual Health

Springtime means new grass is growing, trees are budding, and flowers are blooming. In other words, it’s allergy season. But did you know that the medications you use to treat your allergy symptoms could also cause problems in the bedroom?

The possible causes of erection difficulties are vast, and many of them are related to an underlying health condition such as high blood pressure or diabetes. But if you notice softer-than-usual erections after taking an allergy medication, the two might just be related. 

Antihistamines and erections don’t always go well together.

How Antihistamines Work

Allergy symptoms are caused by histamine, an immune system mediator that occurs naturally in the body. But for allergy sufferers, substances that are usually harmless, like dust and pollen, trigger the release of a high amount of histamine. This is an exaggerated immune response that’s not normal. 

In some cases, the response is more than annoying; it can be a dangerous reaction.

When histamine is released, it causes inflammation and smooth muscle cell contraction. Antihistamines, also called histamine blockers, help neutralize this response. They help mitigate the body’s abnormal responses to otherwise innocuous substances. 

Histamine blockers can have a direct effect on the central nervous system, and as a result, an indirect effect on the penis. Even non-drowsy allergy medications can wipe you out, making you feel exhausted and foggy-headed. This happens because antihistamines, including those with ingredients to combat drowsiness, suppress the central nervous system.

The central nervous system is an essential component in healthy erections. When sexual stimulation begins, whether it’s direct stimulation or an indirect one affecting your senses, the body processes the signal that it’s time for an erection. The process begins in the brain. From there, the signal travels down the spine to nerves that supply the penis.

If something suppresses that normal reaction, as histamine blockers may do, an erection may never have the chance to start at all.

Other Allergy Medications That Can Cause Problems With Erectile Function

While they’re the most common culprit, antihistamines aren’t the only type of medication that can cause erection issues. Here are some others to be aware of:

Decongestants

Pseudoephedrine (the active ingredient in Sudafed) is a decongestant commonly used to relieve a stuffy nose, and it’s commonly added to antihistamine medications. 

Pseudoephedrine constricts blood vessels in the nose, reducing swelling and allowing fluids to drain. Unfortunately, it has the same effect all over the body, including the penis. Because healthy erections depend on good blood flow, this combination of medications may deal an additional blow to your already ailing erections.

Oxymetazoline and phenylephrine are other ingredients commonly used in decongestants. Look for their names on the label if you want to avoid problems with sexual function.

Corticosteroids

Intranasal or inhaled corticosteroids (like fluticasone and budesonide) are often prescribed for the management of allergic rhinitis. These medications are used mainly as anti-inflammatories, and they’re less likely to cause direct sexual side effects. However, they can affect hormone levels, so long-term use of high-dose corticosteroids could indirectly cause problems with erectile function.

PDE5 Inhibitors and Allergies

man sneezing outdoors

When you need a little help achieving and maintaining strong erections, phosphodiesterase-5 inhibitors (PDE5Is) — medications like Viagra, Levitra, Cialis, and Stendra — can help. They work by helping increase blood flow to the penis, which can result in more dependable erections.

These medications have been proven safe for most men to take. But there are a few factors you should consider about combining PDE5Is with allergy medications.

  • Medication interactions. PDE5 inhibitors can lower blood pressure, so combining them with other medications that have similar effects needs careful management. If you’re taking medications for allergies, particularly those that affect blood pressure or heart rate (like pseudoephedrine), it’s important to consider potential interactions. You can find a complete list of medications that may interact with your ED medication with the Drugs.com Drug Interaction Checker.
  • Side effects. Some men may experience side effects from PDE5 inhibitors that could be uncomfortable if they are also experiencing allergy symptoms. For example, nasal congestion is a common side effect of these drugs, which might exacerbate existing allergy-related congestion. 
  • Other health conditions. If you take nitrates for chest pain, you shouldn’t take PDE5 inhibitors. The combination can create an unsafe drop in blood pressure. Adding an allergy medication to the mix would result in dangerous complications. 

If you take allergy medications and are considering using ED medications to help you through the sniffles season, talk with your doctor first. Make sure they know all the other medications you’re taking and about any other medical conditions you may have. 

In addition to the right medications, you need a doctor’s expertise to decide how to treat your ED and allergies.

eDrugstore Can Help

eDrugstore is your source for safe and effective, FDA-approved medications for erectile dysfunction. Our in-house, U.S.-licensed doctors can help you choose the right medication for you and give you the prescriptions you need.

When you shop with eDrugstore, virtual health visits and shipping are always free. 

This information is intended for general informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or medication. 

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