Overview: A new study comparing men who had high blood pressure to those who did not found that hypertensive men were much more likely to have sexual dysfunction symptoms — especially ED — than men with normal blood pressure. These numbers reinforce previous research showing that control of blood pressure plays a critical role in the prevention of sexual dysfunction.
An estimated 1 in 4 men are currently living with high blood pressure across the globe. Fewer than 1 in 5 people with hypertension have their condition under control.
There is a growing body of evidence supporting the link between high blood pressure and erectile dysfunction. A December 2020 case-control study quantified this increased risk. The researchers also found a link between hypertension and ejaculation problems and even lack of sexual interest.
The study results reinforce that men who wish to reduce their risk for ED and other forms of sexual dysfunction should pay close attention to their blood pressure.
Read on to learn more about the connection between blood pressure and ED and the importance of a healthy lifestyle to sexual function.
How Common is ED for Men with High Blood Pressure?
The exact prevalence of ED is difficult to determine globally. Estimates of ED prevalence range from 3 percent to 76.5 percent, varying from region to region. However, men living with any form of heart disease are more likely to also report problems with sexual function.
The new study aimed to compare the prevalence of ED in men with high blood pressure (hypertensive) to that of men with “normal” blood pressure (normotensive). The results revealed that men living with hypertension were much more likely to report ED (61.8 percent) than men who had no history of hypertension (20.3 percent).
The Link Between Hypertension and Other Forms of Sexual Dysfunction
As shown in the chart below, study participants with hypertension were far more likely to experience one or more of the following measures of sexual dysfunction compared to normotensive participants:
- Impaired morning erections
- Complete erectile failure
- Impaired spontaneous erections
- Ejaculatory disturbances
- Reduced sexual interest
|Comparison Between Hypertensive and Normotensive Participants|
|Sexual Dysfunction Domain||Percentage of Men with High Blood Pressure||Percentage of Men with Normal Blood Pressure|
|Impaired morning erection|
|Complete erection failure|
|Impaired spontaneous erection|
|Reduced sexual interest|
What is the Relationship Between Blood Pressure and Sexual Function?
High blood pressure has been extensively studied for its effect on men’s health. Chronic high blood pressure can cause extensive damage to the lining of your blood vessels. This damage often results in hardening of the arteries, which is also referred to as arteriosclerosis.
Arteriosclerosis reduces overall blood flow throughout the body, which makes it even more difficult for blood to adequately flow to the penis. You may notice that erections are more difficult to both achieve and maintain over time before you notice any other complications related to high blood pressure. Thus, ED is a common first indicator of high blood pressure or other forms of heart disease.
High blood pressure can lead to fatigue and a loss of libido in women as well as men. This interruption to sexual function can cause mental distress or anxiety that creates further complications for your sex life.
High blood pressure and sexual function do not “go away” on their own. If you suspect you are experiencing sexual dysfunction related to your blood pressure, you should speak with a medical provider to identify the root cause.
Do I Need to Worry About Side Effects from Blood Pressure Medications?
If you are currently living with high blood pressure, you may worry about the side effects your medications have on your sexual health and function. Certain blood pressure medications, such as thiazide diuretics, loop diuretics, and beta-blockers, have been shown to cause or contribute to ED. Other high blood pressure medications, such as ACE inhibitors, alpha-blockers, and angiotensin receptor blockers, are less likely to cause ED.
If you are worried about how your blood pressure medication impacts sexual function, you can speak to your medical provider about exploring alternative treatment options.
Never stop taking your blood pressure medication without first consulting your provider.
How Do ED Drugs Affect Blood Pressure?
Phosphodiesterase 5 (PDE5) inhibitors are the most commonly used treatment for ED. These drugs help to regulate blood flow throughout the body and to the penis. Research has shown that they may play a role in reducing blood pressure, but they are not currently approved as antihypertensive therapy.
While PDE5 inhibitors may lower blood pressure, they may not be a good fit for all men with hypertension. Viagra and its generic sildenafil may interact with nitrate medications used to treat high blood pressure.
You must consult your medical provider before taking ED meds if you are currently taking a medication for high blood pressure.
How Can I Better Manage My Blood Pressure?
Managing your blood pressure can help you to improve both your overall health and sexual function. Proper management of high blood pressure often requires changes to lifestyle habits and medication management. The first step in managing your blood pressure is to consult with a medical provider to evaluate your current heart health.
Steps you can take to improve your blood pressure include:
- Eat a well-balanced diet
- Engage in physical activity
- Manage your weight
- Quit smoking or reduce use of tobacco products
- Reduce sodium, sugar, and alcohol consumption
- Routinely check your blood pressure
- Use medications as prescribed
Where Can I Find Treatment for Sexual Dysfunction?
Prescription lifestyle medications are often the first line of treatment for sexual dysfunction, such as ED or premature ejaculation. PDE5 inhibitors are approved for use in most men living with ED. Providers will often recommend a combined treatment approach involving appropriate medication and lifestyle changes.
You should speak to a medical provider before taking any treatment for high blood pressure or sexual dysfunction. A provider can help you to identify the root cause of your condition(s) and plan the best treatment moving forward.
Fortunately, you can easily access safe and effective ED treatment with our services at eDrugstore.com. You can schedule a complimentary consultation with a U.S.-licensed medical provider and choose from a variety of erectile dysfunction treatment options, all online. Learn more today by visiting eDrugstore.com or by calling 1-800-467-5146 to schedule a consultation.
Shelby is a public health professional with research and field experience in sexual and reproductive health. She holds a Master of Public Health (MPH) and is a Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES).