Being treated for hypertension (high blood pressure) doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a fully satisfying, pleasurable sex life.
Many would agree that the signs and symptoms of high blood pressure is often undiscernible — however, its impact on a person’s sex life can be far-ranging. While sexual activity is unlikely to be an immediate health risk for individuals with high blood pressure, it may affect their overall pleasure and satisfaction from engaging in it.
The link between hypertension and sexual dysfunction in men — including erectile dysfunction (ED) — is proven. The reason being is that high blood pressure damages the interior lining of the blood vessels over time, leading to atherosclerosis, or the condition where arteries harden and narrow to severely constrain blood flow throughout the body, including the penis — hence, the high incidence of men with high blood pressure dealing with erectile dysfunction.
Diminishing blood flow is what makes it harder for hypertensive men to obtain and maintain erections, and ED is a natural consequence of reduced vasodilation. Furthermore, there are also medications for high blood pressure that may likely cause erectile dysfunction — particularly beta-blockers and diuretics.
Diuretics may reduce vigorous blood flow to the penis, which makes it difficult to obtain an erection, much less keep it. Moreover, diuretics can exhaust the body’s zinc reserves, which is essential for creating testosterone.
On the other hand, beta blockers — particularly the earlier-generation iterations such as propranolol — are linked to sexual and erectile dysfunction.
It must be noted, however, that other antihypertensive medicines such as ACE inhibitors, ARBs, and calcium channel blockers, do not appear to have any effect on causing erectile dysfunction.
Regardless, even for men who do not take any maintenance medication for hypertension, high blood pressure figures to be a likely risk factor for experiencing erectile dysfunction.
Episodes of erectile dysfunction isn’t only damaging to an individual’s sex life, but also mental health. Performance anxiety is a real thing for men who struggle with erectile dysfunction. Fears of acute ED may lead men to eschew having sex, which may affect their relationships with their partners.
Taking hypertension medication exactly as prescribed may reduce risks of untoward side effects, including sexual dysfunction. Ask your doctor if there are any other potential medications you can take with fewer potential side effects.
Erectile dysfunction and high blood pressure
Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is a silent but major cause of erectile dysfunction. As substantiated in a study published on the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, approximately 49% of men between ages 40 to 79 who were hypertensive also experienced erectile dysfunction, or ED.
Erectile dysfunction is one of the hallmark symptoms of hypertension. Adequate blood flow is a requirement for erections, and when a person is hypertensive (or has high blood pressure), their arterial walls aren’t as open and relaxed as they should be for a sufficient amount of blood to reach the penis to induce an erection.
It’s not surprising that individuals with hypertension are twice as likely to encounter erectile problems than others who don’t, regardless of whether they’re being treated with anti-hypertensive medicines.
Men who are considering taking medicine for erectile dysfunction should first and foremost consult their primary health care providers. Such drugs for ED include sildenafil, vardenafil, and tadalafil, which are better known as Viagra, Levitra, and Cialis, respectively. Generally, these medicines in the form of pills are considered safe for consumption by men with hypertension who are otherwise in good health.
However, it must be noted that drugs for erectile dysfunction are not recommended for individuals with serious heart disease or individuals with hypertension that also have lower urinary tract issues. It is also important to avoid taking erectile dysfunction medicines that might contain nitrates used to treat chest pain, as taking them may lead to a potentially dangerous decline in blood pressure.
Consult your doctor
If you are planning to get treatment for your erectile dysfunction, consult your primary health care provider before anything else. If you’re encountering erectile problems after going on an anti-hypertensive, your doctor might ask you to switch to another medication for high blood pressure. However, if what you’re currently taking is still the most appropriate choice as per your doctor’s advice, then you may want to discuss other treatments, such as the ones we will be mentioning, as one of your treatment options.
You have options
Living with hypertension doesn’t have to mean
Living with high blood pressure doesn’t usually mean giving up a satisfying sex life. Talking openly and honestly with your doctor can help better manage your treatment and help you overcome any sexual challenges. Be prepared to answer questions your doctor may ask, such as:
- What medications do you take?
- Has your relationship with your sexual partner changed recently?
- Are you sad or depressed?
- Have you been under a lot of stress lately?
The good news is, no matter what the cause of your ED, there are other treatments available — especially ones that simply require some smart lifestyle changes that can potentially improve not just your cardiovascular health, but also your sexual performance.
Promote overall health
Living a healthy lifestyle can lower your blood pressure and potentially improve your sex life. Try these healthy-lifestyle choices:
- Do not smoke or use tobacco.
- Eat healthy foods.
- Limit the amount of alcohol you drink.
- Reduce the amount of salt in your diet.
- Get regular exercise.
- Lose extra pounds.
A healthy and fit body can boost your confidence and help you feel more attractive, which could also improve your sex life.
Set the stage for satisfying sex
How you feel about your partner and where you have sex may affect your sexual response. To encourage satisfying sex, initiate sex when you and your partner are feeling relaxed. Explore various ways to be physically intimate, such as massage or warm soaks in the tub.
Share with each other the types of sexual activity you enjoy most. You may find that open communication is the best way to achieve sexual satisfaction. And studies have shown that a healthy, pleasurable sex life is good for the heart.