Does caffeine help treat erectile dysfunction?

Raagini Yedidi, MD - Contributor Avatar

Reviewed by Raagini Yedidi, MD, 

Written by Amelia Willson 

Raagini Yedidi, MD - Contributor Avatar

Reviewed by Raagini Yedidi, MD, 

Written by Amelia Willson 

last updated: Apr 10, 2024

6 min read

Key takeaways

  • Some research suggests moderate caffeine consumption has a positive impact on erectile health, but other studies have found no correlation.

  • Consuming caffeine may offer benefits for other conditions that can contribute to ED, such as depression and diabetes.

  • Energy drinks can have a higher caffeine content, which could pose risks for people with heart issues and other heart conditions.

For many people, caffeine is a part of everyday life. Eighty percent of adults or more consume caffeine, most commonly in the form of coffee, tea, or soda, though some adults also consume sports drinks.

Whether your caffeine of choice is a cup of coffee, a spot of tea, or a shot of an energy drink, you may be wondering how your daily pick-me-up is affecting your health. Sure, caffeine can wake up your brain and help you feel more alert, but how else might it affect you, especially when it comes to erections? 

Here’s the short answer. Some research suggests moderate caffeine consumption has a positive impact on erectile health, but it’s not a cure-all for erectile dysfunction (ED) — and some forms of caffeine (we’re looking at you, energy drinks) can actually have harmful impacts on your general health and sex life. 

Read on as we explore the connection between caffeine and ED, and how to consume caffeine for better energy, both in and out of the bedroom.

Erectile dysfunction

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What causes ED? 

Erectile dysfunction (ED) describes a consistent difficulty getting or maintaining an erection. ED is estimated to affect just over half of men in the United States between the ages of 40 and 70, with prevalence increasing with age. ED can be caused or exacerbated by a number of things, including:

Does caffeine improve ED?

While some research suggests that a moderate intake of caffeine may reduce the risk of ED, results are mixed. Additionally, it’s difficult to prove causation between caffeine and decreased ED given the data is not randomized and controlled. In one national study, men who consumed 170–375 mg of caffeine daily (around 2–3 cups of coffee) were found to be less likely to experience ED than men who had none or barely any caffeine (0–7 mg daily). This finding held true for men without comorbidities, as well as men with obesity, overweight, or high blood pressure — but not necessarily those with diabetes. 

However, in a later study with a larger sample size, the same researchers did not find any correlation between caffeine intake and ED. Given mixed results, it’s difficult to make any definitive statements about the relationship between these two variables.

Some researchers speculate there could be a mechanism for caffeine’s potential effects on erectile dysfunction - it may have something to do with caffeine’s effects on blood flow. Specifically, caffeine may relax the arteries that bring blood into the penis, as well as the erectile tissues themselves, enabling blood to easily flow in and fill up the penis. Similar effects on blood flow occur when you get an erection, as well as when you take ED medications like Cialis (tadalafil) or Viagra (sildenafil). 

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There may be other sex-related benefits of caffeine. For example, a small randomized controlled trial of otherwise healthy, overweight adults who did not smoke showed that regularly drinking coffee mayincrease total testosterone levels, which could have a positive impact on ED. And, studies have found that drinking coffee about an hour before a resistance workout can boost performance and muscular endurance — qualities that may be useful if you’re looking to last longer during sex.

In most cases, ED is treatable. Treatment often begins with identifying and treating the underlying factor, or factors, contributing to ED. Coffee might have a positive impact on other conditions that have been linked to ED.

  • Diabetes: Some epidemiological studies have shown regular coffee consumption has been linked to a lower risk of type 2 diabetes. However, maintaining a healthy diet and exercising regularly is more important for reducing the risk of diabetes. Again, it’s difficult to prove coffee has a causative relationship. What is important is ensuring your caffeine doesn’t come in the form of beverages that contain excess amounts of sugar and fat, because these components would negate any potential benefits. 

  • Depression: Depression has been linked to erectile dysfunction. Coffee — and to a lesser extent, tea — has been shown to have a dose-dependent relationship with depression, according to one review of twelve studies. . The more coffee you drink (up to a ceiling of 400 milliliters a day), the lower the relative risk of depression, which may make sense due to the stimulant effects of caffeine on the body which may help counteract symptoms of depression such as fatigue. That being said, those with comorbid anxiety should be careful, as the stimulant effects of caffeine can worsen anxiety.

  • Aging: Coffee and tea both contain a high amount of antioxidants — around 200–550 mg per cup for coffee and 150–400 mg for tea. Antioxidants can help fight the oxidative stress that accelerates the aging process and contributes to other risk factors for ED, including diabetes and heart disease - though this relationship may be a bit of a stretch as you can’t totally counteract the effects of aging! What’s most important is aging in a healthy way by controlling lifestyle factors like diet and exercise as much as possible.

How much caffeine should you consume? 

In general, consuming up to 400 milligrams (mg) of caffeine daily is considered safe. For reference, most drinks contain somewhere between 70 to 100 mg of caffeine, although you can always check the nutritional label to be sure.

However, depending on your individual circumstances, it may not be wise to enjoy quite that much caffeine on a daily basis. For example, as you age, your body begins metabolizing caffeine (along with other substances) more slowly, which can increase the effects of caffeine on your body. Depending on your other health conditions, especially cardiovascular health or anxiety-related issues, high amounts of caffeine may not be recommended. Talk to your healthcare provider to be sure.

Mild side effects of too much caffeine can include:

  • Anxiety

  • Restlessness

  • Fidgeting

  • Insomnia (trouble sleeping)

  • Facial flushing

  • Increased urination

  • Muscle twitches

  • Feeling irritable or agitated

  • Increased heart rate

  • Digestive upset

In higher doses, caffeine can lead to more serious side effects, including:

  • Disorientation

  • Hallucinations

  • Psychosis 

  • Seizure

  • Arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat)

  • Reduced blood or oxygen flow

  • Heart or kidney damage

Do energy drinks cause ED?

Speaking of higher doses, energy drinks typically contain significantly more caffeine in a single drink than coffee or tea, which can easily tip you from the healthy range of caffeine into the 400 mg or higher zone where things can get risky. For reference, while the average cup of coffee might contain 77 to 150 mg of caffeine, energy drinks can range from 75 to 240 mg. 

Energy drink consumers commonly report side effects, including feeling restless or jittery, trouble sleeping, and digestive upset. Furthermore, drinking too many energy drinks has been linked to arrhythmias (irregular heartbeat) and other heart issues — in both people with established heart problems and those with good heart health. Long-term consumption of energy drinks may end up affecting the shape of the heart muscle itself. 

ED and heart disease often overlap, because many people with ED experience this issue due to underlying issues with their blood vessels. This is why men with ED, for example, are significantly more likely to experience a cardiovascular event, heart attack, and stroke. Thus, caffeine might not be the safest option or suggestion for the population of people with ED. 

In addition to raising the risk of heart problems (a major risk factor for ED), energy drink consumption has been linked to other contributing factors to ED, such as alcohol consumption, depression, and poor mental health.

Besides containing high amounts of caffeine, many energy drinks also contain large quantities of sugar, which can be bad for both your overall health and erectile health. Regularly drinking sugar-sweetened beverages like soft drinks is known to have negative impacts on your blood vessels, and it’s really important for your blood vessels to be in good shape for good erectile function. Consuming sugary drinks can lead to all kinds of health complications including diabetes, which only further damage your blood vessels and nerves and can make it that much more challenging to get an erection. Furthermore, regularly drinking sugary or artificially sweetened beverages has been shown to lower sperm concentration and total sperm count.

Caffeine and ED: the bottom line

Coffee and tea are two popular drinks that contain caffeine and can be good for your health. While more research is still needed, there is some evidence that caffeine may help with ED, whether directly or indirectly. So, if you love your daily cup (or two, or three) of caffeine, you may have just one more reason to love it now. But be careful of excess calories lurking within your favorite beverages - some coffee and tea drinks have a lot of excess calories from sugar or cream.

That being said, there is no quick fix for ED. There are lifestyle modifications you can make that may help with ED including improving your physical health or improving your stress, but if you are experiencing ED you should talk to a healthcare provider to learn what your options are.

If you ever do feel like experimenting, know that generally, caffeine kicks in 45–60 minutes after you take it (although it can be slower if you have it with food), and the effects can last for 3–5 hours.


If you have any medical questions or concerns, please talk to your healthcare provider. The articles on Health Guide are underpinned by peer-reviewed research and information drawn from medical societies and governmental agencies. However, they are not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

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How we reviewed this article

Every article on Health Guide goes through rigorous fact-checking by our team of medical reviewers. Our reviewers are trained medical professionals who ensure each article contains the most up-to-date information, and that medical details have been correctly interpreted by the writer.

Current version

April 10, 2024

Written by

Amelia Willson

Fact checked by

Raagini Yedidi, MD

About the medical reviewer

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