an on off switch in the off position

Q. The pain and trauma of erectile dysfunction in a loving relationship cannot be underestimated. I am a mature woman in a relationship with a man I adore who has ED. A blood pressure medication chemically castrated him first. When he stopped taking it, he was finally able to get intermittent erections, but the ED was still there, just not quite as bad.

He was also on a high dose of simvastatin for cholesterol. He stopped taking it after I found out about its devastating effects on men. He’s been off it for several days and last night we both noticed a real difference!

My advice for women in my situation is to try to keep the love and sexiness in your life. It may take much more time to turn your man on. Make sure there is no anxiety or stress over sexual performance and keep love and affection alive.

A. The connection between statin therapy and erectile dysfunction has been controversial ever since Italian clinical researchers reported ED and lower testosterone in patients taking statins (Journal of Sexual Medicine, April 2010). Scientists have just confirmed in laboratory studies that statins inhibit testosterone production (Reproductive Toxicology, online Jan. 21, 2014). It seems that this might contribute to ED, especially in older men.

Here are some other stories from men on statins:

“I have been on Crestor for several years and mentally have sex drive, but can’t maintain an erection. I can understand not being able to have sex when I’m 95, but not at 65.” T.H.

“I was on 20mg of atorvastatin for over a year. My sex drive was at an all time low and I did not have a full erection after taking it. I was also feeling tired.

“My doctor, who put me on the 20mg, suggested I have my testosterone tested, which was below a normal level, but not much. He recommended a specialist who paid no attention to the fact that prostate cancer ran in my family. Without checking my prostate gland he only looked at my PSA which was 2.3. He placed me on the lowest level of Androgel. Carefully, I followed the instructions and noticed after a month my sex drive and erection were back…like being in my 20s again. I was able to workout and do my chores without feeling rundown.

“After being on the Androgel for three months, my PSA was elevated to 5.8. At that point I scheduled an appointment with a urologist who does surgery for sampling my prostate gland. He stopped the Androgel immediately. Twelve drill samples later, the doctor told me I had no cancer in 11 samples, but one was atypical which meant I needed to be re-tested 6 months later.

“Meanwhile my younger brother was placed on hospice with stage 4 prostate cancer. Two weeks after he passed, I went in for another biopsy and had 15 samples taken. They turned out negative, to my relief.

“My wife had read about statins and the problems associated with them and I instructed my doctor to prescribe 10mg which put everything back to normal. Lesson learned. Find the cause of the problem without having doctors prescribe medicines that are not needed.” R.W.

“I was put on atorvastatin. I have been on it for about 3 years now. I am a 61 year old male. Consider myself in good shape. Run and exercise approximately 3 times a week. My [cholesterol] levels were on the high side but not extreme. Doc said since I am pushing 60 that the statistics say I should go on statins. Cholesterol dropped to almost 1/2.

“I used to run around 3 – 5 miles a couple of times a week but slowly I couldn’t get my breath. I would start wheezing after about 2 minutes into the run and could not continue. Then just regular working around the house would start bothering me. Doctor said I have asthma induced by exercise. Then he said I have full fledged asthma and put me on puffers and steroids.

“Slowly but surely my sex drive went down hill and standing at attention was few and far between.

“Lately there are spots on my skin where there is no pigment anymore. Doctor says it is Vetiligo. Same thing Michael Jackson had where he was turning white. I went cold turkey and stopped taking atorvastatin.

“Five days later I woke my wife up in the middle of the night and wanted to reintroduce intimacy. She declined however. Seven days later went for a hard bike ride and there was no wheezing. I am going to an acupuncturist right now to see if he can get my kidneys, liver, and other internal organs working together again. Think it is working.” W.L.

“Among the many side effects I experienced while on statins was decreased libido. As things happen gradually, I hadn’t fully taken note of how normal night time erections had virtually ceased. I put off my lack of sexual interest to getting older. My wife felt I wasn’t as interested in her anymore.

“During the first week after I had stopped the statin, I had a sexual awakening like I was a teenager again. I didn’t realize how far I had deteriorated until my libido came roaring back. Normal night time erections while sleeping returned. I also found myself inclined to stretching my muscles again as I woke up and got out of bed. I hadn’t noticed that I had lost the urge to do that.

“Part of the danger of statin drugs is that most symptoms come on gradually, as opposed say to some extreme alergic reaction. I think this is part of why statins are misinterpreted as being so safe, and statin damage sufferers are not fully documented.” J.M.

Many, if not most, people do not experience sexual side effects from statins, at least that seems to be the collected medical wisdom. Erectile dysfunction and lowered libido are considered rare complications of statins and there are few studies that contradict that belief. We wish there were better research regarding this important issue. We suspect that J.M’s comments above are on target, but without good data we are only guessing.

We strongly recommend medical supervision for discontinuing any prescribed medication such as simvastatin or a blood pressure pill. For the woman who asked the original question, we applaud your suggestion. Your advice for partners is on target.

Share your own story below either positive or negative. Others will benefit from your experience.

Get The Graedons' Favorite Home Remedies Health Guide for FREE

Join our daily email newsletter with breaking health news, prescription drug information, home remedies AND you'll get a copy of our brand new full-length health guide — for FREE!

  1. Lamar

    I had quadruple bypass heart surgery due to my arteries being clogged. No damage to my heart only the arteries needed replacing. 4 months have gone by. I take Atorvastatin (20mg) and a Beta Blocker. Told by my cardiologist that the Statin drug is a wonder drug and should always take it. Yet, it has produced I think some side effects which are uncomfortable. I do not sleep as well as I would like. Get tired some days. Need a nap each day. Erections not as well as before. Memory slightly off center occasionally. Get a little anxious and up tight on some days especially in traffic situations and having no meal on time.

    Not sure about these Statins. My situation prior to the need for surgery was never high blood pressure and my stats otherwise on cholesterol and the HDL and LDL were always considered in the safe range. So why the Statins is my question? Why insisting it all the time as if I need to keep taking it to live. I want to have the symptoms removed that it has produced.

  2. Sophie

    Since being prescribed Lipitor, my husband has developed urinary retension and recently had a urinary tract infection. The specialist put him on Rapaflow which created problems with dry ejaculation and the risk of permanent ED (all the drugs for enlarged prostate carry this risk). I checked out the blogs and got him off this stuff. Very interested to find that his urinary problems can be linked to Lipitor and the onset of symptoms matches the time he began taking the drug.

    I was very surprised to learn from a documentary on PBS that the dangers of cholesterol have been highly exaggerated (smoking, diabetes and high blood pressure are far greater risk factors). The documentary also mentioned that statin drugs can cause serious memory loss and cognitive impairment which can mimic Altzheimers. Most of us are familiar with muscular pain.

    All patients and their spouses need to be aware of potential side effects with statins and monitor accordingly.

    Wishing you all the best of health.

  3. WC

    Most of you guys seem quite lucky really… I have recently been diagnosed with angina due to hereditary high cholesterol, but it’s only 6.3 (whatever the hello that means) and following consultation was put on Atorvastatin 40mg. Side effect: ED.
    Further medication prescribed is Bisoprolol 5mg. Side effect: ED.
    Thankfully my wife is very understanding, but I’m not sure how much longer for. So, even if I stop the statins, I’m still left with ED from the bisoprolol. So, a win win situation then if I’m considering becoming a bloody monk!

  4. RobinMichael

    First of all, I lost the sensation of ‘coming’ even though I had. Then I found that I was becoming limp during intercourse.

    More recently, I have been having pain in my knees and my legs. After driving for long periods of time, (sitting down), I found it difficult to walk again.

    I filled in an online form with my doctor and I was advised over the phone to stop taking the statins.

    Let’s see what happens!

  5. Tony

    I’m 60 and have high cholesterol and Dr prescribed me Atorvastatin 10mg. After taking for a week, couldn’t have a erection anymore, where before, I used to have sex with my young wife about 3 to 4 times a week.

    Now have ED , I’m going to stop taking this and look for alternatives.

  6. Daryl
    Boston, Ma

    As a 41 Y old I decided to stop taking pravastatin. While I was taking it on a daily basis I lost function to my penis. I have now stopped taking pravastatin and my penail function is back to 97% functional order. If you are a male and care for your penis and its function as a sex organ, STOP taking Pravastatin! I will discuss with my doctor an alternative.

  7. Bernie
    South Dakota

    I am 50 single for the last 2 years, now Ihave someone back in my life. I take two different statins daily, could this really be the problem. She’s 30 I know it’s not her.
    Is diet enough to control my cholesterol .

  8. Ralph
    Milton Freewater, Oregon

    I am 71 years old and have been on simvastatin 20 mg for at least 8 years and have developed ED within the last 18 months. My Dr. prescribed Viagra from the Canadian pharmacies and they are legit.

    They make generic Viagra also, which is what I use. It worked for an erection for about a year but now it dosen’t work any longer. I have lost alot of weight and I am going to discontinue the simvastatin for a week or two and hope my erection returns.

  9. John

    I’m a 45 Year Old AA male. I had an annual Physical Exam, my cholesteral was high, the Dr. recommened a Statin, he explained they have little to no side effects. I started taking Altorvastatin one pill a day, i noticed on day 2 , I had diarhea, and it lasted through day 5. Also during this time I found that I couldn’t get enough sleep, I was extreemly tired, I assumed it was just my body adjusting to the medicine. I also noticed I had a desire to have sex, but my member wouldn’t fully get errect. I begin to research the side effects of the medicine and I’m going to discontinue the use and see if my Dr. can recommend another drug.

    • Mike
      NW Ohio

      I am 43. Basically the EXACT same story from me. My cholesterol was 290 – Dr prescribed 40mg daily of Lipitor. My wife is 39 (looks 20’s and is smoking hot). I had the normal sexual urges but when we had the chance – getting an erection was more than difficult. She thought I was losing interest or there was someone else. This hasn’t happened in our 20 yrs together. The diarrhea is unbearable at times as well. I had my cholesterol checked again and it dropped all the way to 111. I plan to STOP taking this and maintain the lower levels by eating better.
      Sorry to hear of everyone else’s pain here but glad I am not alone.

  10. Joseph

    I will be starting treatment for prostate cancer next month, I am 65 years old. I have been prescribed doxorubicin, which is pretty decent price-wise, but when I mentioned concern about side effects my Dr. prescribed me viagra to go with it, as a safe compliment. I am not making alot of money right now, and don’t think I can realistically afford it. My Dr. gave me his off-record recommendation for Canadian pharmacies who fill prescriptions and I am a little nervous about ordering from that kind of source. Has anyone here had any experience with this type of thing or advice to offer? Thank you for any help!

  11. Rez

    my sex drive from 100% reduced to 10% weeks since i started to have lipitor 20 mg
    I suspected it and as soon as I stopped using it,everything come back to normal.
    defo not using that crap ever

  12. Abe

    I fully agree. After taking Statins for 5 month I have developed serious ED problem, virtually no erection. I am going to stop it and see if I can get adequate erection again.

    • Tony

      Viagra type medication from Canada had spotty effects. Not always worked and crooked erections with unstable erections. I asked where the medication was made and they told me India.
      Sidenafil is now available in the USA at a fraction of the cost. Mine are in 20mg pills do one has to take from four to five to work.

  13. Russel

    I am 50. I started Atorvastatin in 2009 for Hyper-Lipidimia. From, 2010, I started feeling less pleasure/thrill during orgasm. From 2013,I started having ED. There was erection, but not hard enough to do sex. Recently, one urologist told me that Atorvastatin is the culprit for my ED.

    Now since I have High-Cholesterol, I was looking for alternative of Atorvastatin. After surfing web,I came to conclusion that, the alternative food supplement are two: (1)Garlic. (2) Omega-3.
    I am planning to stop Atorvastatin & start these two food supplements and see the result.

  14. Carolyn

    My boyfriend is 78 – I’m 72. Both of us are widowed. He takes statins for high blood pressure and cholesterol problems. He cannot maintain an erection no matter what. He is frustrated about it, but won’t discuss it with the doctor. I tell him I don’t care, but he says he does and that he feels I am not being satisfied. We do other things. I am not satisfied, but say nothing because I do not want to hurt his feelings. He has taken Viagra and Cialis. They don’t work on him. Any suggestions?

  15. Mike
    Dallas, TX

    I am 47 Male. I took took Crestor for about 3 months one tablet every other day. After a month I started, developed sever groin pain on right side (started from groin and felt stretching in thigh muscle up to knee) to the extent was not able to walk without so much limping. Was not able to sit with legs crossed. I discontinued the drug suspecting that. It took almost 2-3 months for the groin pain to go away after drug stopped. Other worse side effect that I got and still going through is loss of libido and no erection.
    Would never go back to the drug. All I can say, it is a slow acting poison. One finds about it after much harm has been done.

  16. edclinicrefills

    In our Case studies, we found medicines like Statins can cause a little to big problems with erectile dysfunction. So I may agree to the post written above, many of our patients who have stopped taking these medicines can now have good, and even back-to-normal erections again.

  17. John

    I am 67 years old. I started taking atorvastatin (generic lipitor) after my cardiologist recommended I switch from pravastatin which I had taken for 5 months without any problems. Both drugs were taken in doses of 80 mg daily. Within a week after starting atorvastatin, I started to feel numbness in my penis. Soon I was unable to get a full erection nor to feel any pleasure in ejaculation. I consulted 3 different doctors about this problem, none of whom could offer any reasons for it, except aging and clogging of blood vessels. After 4 months of this, I stopped taking atorvastatin because I had shown high levels of liver enzymes in 2 blood tests. Within a week of stopping, feeling returned to my penis and I was again able to experience erections and sexual pleasure. My cardiologist said that she had never heard of this reaction. I told her to check the internet. It is an “unofficial” side effect.

  18. John P.

    Erectile dysfunction is no laughing matter. I struggle with it daily and wish they would find a cure =( Utah

  19. SW

    Statins certainly contributed to my ED. I started taking statins (simvastatin) and over the course the next year is started getting ED and it just got worse. I started doing research and found that statins reduce cholesterol but cholesterol is something your body uses to produce testosterone and other hormones. I then stopped taking statins and my ED didn’t go away. I had my testosterone tested and it was way low so now I take bioidentical hormones (testosterone and progesterone) and I’m much better now. Interestingly enough once we started having sex again and got to three times a week both my wife and my cholesterol levels came down 50 points each – naturally without taking statins. Also the more important measure of cholesterol is actually = (total cholesterol/HDL) less than 5.0 is OK. Mine is fine. Total cholesterol alone is not a good indicator of a problem.

  20. MJW

    I stopped taking Crestor for about 5 weeks. Made no difference in my ED.

What Do You Think?

We invite you to share your thoughts with others, but remember that our comment section is a public forum. Please do not use your full first and last name if you want to keep details of your medical history anonymous. A first name and last initial or a pseudonym is acceptable. Advice from other commenters on this website is not a substitute for medical attention. Do not stop any medicine without checking with the prescriber. Stopping medication suddenly could result in serious harm. We expect comments to be civil in tone and language. By commenting, you agree to abide by our commenting policy and website terms & conditions. Comments that do not follow these policies will not be posted.

Your cart

Shipping and discount codes are added at checkout.