Can Being Sick Cause Erectile Dysfunction: How The Flu Causes ED

Does being sick cause ED? Learn how having the flu may cause erectile dysfunction. Find out how to treat it and get back to having strong erections.

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Hands on, practical experience – this is our expertise
by The Promescent Team Last updated 12/21/2023

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how the flu causes ed

Sneezing, sniffles, a stuffy nose, and a sore throat are uncomfortable on their own. Add the potential for gastrointestinal issues and a fever, and it's the perfect storm for misery.

Once the flu has passed, you may have residual fatigue and continue to feel a little off. While you might feel well enough to engage in sexual activity, you could be struggling to achieve and maintain an erection.

Quick FAQs

Erectile dysfunction can be caused by physical, emotional and psychological issues. Some underlying causes include diabetes, medication interactions, and performance anxiety.

Yes, being sick can disrupt the systems required to achieve and maintain an erection, and thus cause erectile dysfunction.

Yes, studies have shown that COVID can cause short-term ED, and in some cases, long-term ED.

But wait. Can being sick cause ED? Erectile dysfunction (ED) is the one flu symptom that may linger a little longer than the rest. ED can happen after bouts with the flu, COVID, and even the common cold.

We will examine why ED happens when you're sick and how to address it. While we're at it, let's look at other common causes of ED and safe treatments.

What Causes ED?

It's estimated that at least 150 million men globally struggle with erectile dysfunction. The number is expected to double by 2025. 

ED affects men of all ages, backgrounds, and lifestyles. The severity of erectile dysfunction varies from short-term ED due to sickness to long-term chronic ED.

The causes of ED can stem from physical, emotional, or psychological issues. Here are a few of the potential underlying issues:

  • Diabetes
  • Kidney disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Peyronie's disease
  • Bodily injury to the penis, bladder, spinal cord, or prostate
  • Medication interactions
  • Depression
  • Sexual performance anxiety
  • Illnesses - flu, COVID, the common cold
  • Alcohol and drug abuse

Can Being Sick Cause Erectile Dysfunction?

Achieving and sustaining an erection may seem straightforward when it happens like it's supposed to. But it requires complex processes and multiple systems to work just right.

Many illnesses can interfere with the processes of the endocrine system, nervous system, and cardiovascular system, which leads to erectile dysfunction.

  • The endocrine system controls your body's production of hormones, including the testosterone you need for a healthy sex life. Most illnesses can cause testosterone levels to drop and make it difficult to get an erection.
  • The nervous system's role is to send messages between different parts of the body, including the penis and brain. When that signal goes wrong, it can prevent sexual arousal and function.
  • You require a healthy cardiovascular system to pump the needed nutrients and oxygen to organs, tissue, and cells. An illness can affect your circulatory system, which includes your heart and blood vessels.

As if that weren't enough, cortisol levels rise in the body due to the stress. When a person gets sick, the body and mind go through a fair amount of stress. 

It responds by releasing cortisol, further suppressing the immune system, and decreasing the energy needed for proper sexual function.

So, how can the flu cause erectile dysfunction? The flu, COVID, and other illnesses disrupt the required systems and can affect sex drive, nerve function, and blood flow.

Pro Tip: VitaFLUX Nitric Oxide Booster helps to relax blood vessels and allow more blood flow through the increase of nitric oxide production.

Additionally, the general discomfort of strep throat and fever can make it difficult to focus on being sexually aroused and getting an erection.

1. Chronic Medical Conditions and ED

Type 2 diabetes is one of the most common chronic medical conditions that can lead to struggles with erectile dysfunction. According to research, men with diabetes are three times more likely to experience ED than a healthy male.

Heart and cardiovascular disease is also a leading cause of erectile dysfunction and affects 150 million men worldwide. Those that smoke cigarettes are at a higher risk of blood vessels and heart disease.

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic neurological disease that affects even young adults and can cause decreased penis sensation, lower libido, and ED.

Other chronic illnesses that lead to ED include:

  • atherosclerosis
  • high blood pressure
  • kidney disease
  • Peyronie's disease
  • the result of prostate cancer treatments, including radiation and surgery
  • injury to the pelvis, bladder, spinal cord, or spinal cord

2. Injuries that cause ED

Traumatic injuries to the pelvic region may cause a man to experience erectile dysfunction. Injuries to the pelvis may occur during a car collision, falls from high up, and surgery.

Experiencing genital sensation is a requirement to achieve and maintain an erection. Genital sensory disturbance (GSD) does cause erectile dysfunction in men that have experienced a spinal cord injury.

3. Common Colds and Erectile Dysfunction

The common cold comes with fatigue and bodily discomfort, which may then cause a lack of interest in sex and possible erectile dysfunction.

If you do feel up to sex but can't get hard when sick, there are common treatments that include prescription ED medications such as tadalafil (Cialis®) or sildenafil (Viagra®) over-the-counter VitaFLUX nitric oxide booster or topical treatments.

Does Cold Medicine Cause ED?

Over-the-counter or prescription cold medication with decongestants and antihistamines can lead to short-term erectile dysfunction.

ED should clear up after you stop taking the cold medicine. If it doesn't, contact your physician.

Erectile dysfunction can be a symptom of an underlying condition such as high blood pressure.

The Flu and Erectile Dysfunction

Influenza, or the flu, is caused by a virus. Some of the symptoms include a cough, fever, body aches, and fatigue.

The flu can bring about inflation in the blood vessels, which may affect the systems required to achieve and maintain an erection.

Fevers are often companions of the flu, but can fever cause erectile dysfunction?

While the change in body temperature surely plays a factor, running a fever is a good thing and means your body is fighting the flu faster.

Avoid contact with other people when you are experiencing a fever to avoid spreading the flu and other catchable illnesses.

COVID-19 and Erectile Dysfunction

If the flu or a cold can lead to ED, can COVID cause erectile dysfunction?

Yes, according to studies, COVID may result in short-term ED. In some cases, patients have reported ongoing issues with erectile dysfunction into the third month of recovery.

The reasons why COVID leads to erectile dysfunction remain unclear. But, some researchers suspect that it's due to COVID harming blood vessels throughout the body.

Other theories include that COVID lowers testosterone levels or that COVID damages nerves and can potentially cause ED.

How to treat erectile dysfunction when sick

Your body's systems go haywire and may prevent you from getting and keeping an erection when you're sick.

The initial plan of action is to focus on getting better. It may mean taking a day or two off from sexual activity. Plus, it's best to avoid being around others when you suspect your illness is transmissible.

Treat your sickness

Staying hydrated, eating healthily, and getting plenty of rest are the easiest ways to combat the common cold and flu. But, sometimes, it isn't enough.

Salt water gargles, sipping warm liquids, and honey are natural remedies that help soothe a sore throat and ease congestion.

You can treat physical pain and discomfort with over-the-counter pain relievers such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Advil), or aspirin.

OTC cold and cough medication will address and help alleviate flu or cold symptoms such as congestion and stuffiness. Some cold medicines contain both a decongestant and a pain reliever.

Always read the labels of any medication to check for drug interactions and possible side effects, including increased blood pressure.

If you can't seem to shake the sickness, pay your primary physician a visit to avoid long-term health problems, including erectile dysfunction.

Make lifestyle changes

If you continue to experience ED once the illness passes, you may need to consider making lifestyle changes and changing daily habits.

Physical exercise increases blood flow, helps manage diabetes, and supports weight loss. Getting up and moving just 30 minutes a day can help reduce the symptoms of ED.

Don't forget a balanced diet of fruits, veggies, and protein; cut back on saturated fat and salt.

Pro TIp: Certain foods can cause ED. Find out if you're diet is partly to blame for your erectile dysfunction.

Consuming alcohol, nicotine, and marijuana can reduce blood flow and heart health, resulting in erectile dysfunction. When you quit smoking cigarettes, you increase your blood flow for better and more consistent erections.

Not all erectile dysfunction is due to a physical issue. Psychogenic erectile dysfunction happens when a physiological factor causes the inability to achieve and maintain an erection. 

Anxiety, depression, and guilt are three major factors when dealing with psychogenic ED. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and antidepressants are common treatments for psychogenic ED.

Try ED medication

You have medication treatment options for ED, whether it's due to an illness or a more common occurrence.

Most erectile dysfunction medications work the same way. However, each ED pill has a different chemical makeup that influences how fast it works and wears off, as possible side effects and adverse reactions.

  • Sildenafil (Viagra) is a popular doctor-prescribed ED medicine. It takes 30 to 60 minutes to start working and can last for four hours.
  • Tadalafil (Cialis) is for men who are seeking a bit more spontaneity in the bedroom and is effective for upwards of 36 hours. It can be taken in smaller daily doses or one large dose as needed.
  • Vardenafil (Levitra) is a new erectile dysfunction medication and is taken an hour before sexual activity. The effects last around an hour.

You will consult with your physician about which ED medication is both effective and safe for you to use.

Consider alternative medications

Over-the-counter erectile dysfunction supplements such as VitaFlux nitric oxide boosting supplement contain ingredients that increase libido and improve blood flow to achieve better and maintain an erection.

L-Citrulline, L-Arginine, and L-Carnitine act together to increase nitric oxide production, promoting stronger erections, improved orgasms, and better bedroom performance.

Talk with your doctor before starting any supplement to ensure there are no possible drug interactions.


If you're wondering if getting sick causes erectile dysfunction, the answer is a resounding yes.

Your body is made up of a number of complicated systems and processes required to get and keep a healthy erection. Being ill takes a toll on your bodily functions and psychological health, which can cause short-term, and in some cases, longer-term erectile dysfunction.

The causes of diminished erectile function can also include chronic illnesses, injuries, and emotional and psychological issues. The flu, COVID, and the common cold have the potential to cause a short bout with erectile dysfunction.

When you're sick, it's likely best to take a one or two-day sex break to get well and ensure that you don't pass the flu onto your partner. Grab some Ibuprofen to kill the body aches, and cold medication is available to treat the symptoms.

Maybe it's been a day or two, and you still can't quite get the erection you want. Over-the-counter medication that increases nitric oxide creation can address the residual effects of the flu that causes ED.

Most importantly, don't panic if you do experience erectile dysfunction after the flu or any illnesses.

If the issue persists, contact your physician and work out a plan to treat your erectile dysfunction that works for you.

The Promescent Team

The Promescent Team

Our team has over a decade of experience in the sexual wellness field and are experts in sexual dysfunctions, like premature ejaculation. We help couples and individuals better understand treatment options available for different types of sexual needs and educate the public on all things related to intimacy. All of our authored content is medically reviewed for accuracy and reliability.


Absorption Pharmaceuticals LLC (Promescent) has strict informational citing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic or research institutions, medical associations, and medical experts. We attempt to use primary sources and refrain from using tertiary references and only citing trustworthy sources. Each article is reviewed, written, and updated by Medical Professionals or authoritative Experts in a specific, related field of practice. You can find out more about how we ensure our content is accurate and current by reading our editorial policy.

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