Evidence continues to mount linking high blood pressure and erectile dysfunction. A recent study by researchers at the Department of Physiology, Georgia Health Sciences University, in Augusta, Georgia found that approximately 30 percent of men with hypertension complain of erectile dysfunction. Having high blood pressure isn’t your only risk factor for ED though; medications used to treat hypertension can also contribute to erectile dysfunction.
High Blood Pressure and ED
The link between high blood pressure and erectile dysfunction is one that is actually very simple: High blood pressure damages the arteries and proper blood flow through the arteries is needed to get and maintain an erection.
Over time, hypertension can cause the arteries to become less flexible and narrow (also known as atherosclerosis) so that blood flow is reduced. This not only puts you at risk of heart attack and stroke, but it also limits the blood that circulates to the penis therefore decreasing your ability to achieve and sustain erections. High blood pressure can also impact libido and ejaculation.
High Blood Pressure Medication and ED
It is a bit like a vicious circle in that hypertension can cause ED if left untreated, but the medication used to treat it can also impair sexual function and cause ED. Understanding which high blood pressure medications cause erectile dysfunction as a side effect can help you and your doctor decide on a treatment plan that works best for you in and out of the bedroom.
Some of the medications for high blood pressure that cause ED include:
- Beta Blockers. These affect the same part of the nervous system that is responsible for causing erections.
- Diuretics. Also referred to as “water pills”, these can interfere with the intensity at which your blood flows to the penis making it difficult to get an erection. Diuretics are also known to the lower zinc levels which may interfere with the body’s production of testosterone.
High Blood Pressure Medications that Won’t Cause ED
Your doctor may be able to make changes to your hypertension treatment to reduce the likelihood of erectile dysfunction and other sexual issues. For some it may be a matter of adjusting a dosage while others may require a completely different type of medication.
Speaking openly with your doctor about your side effects as well as other medications and supplements that you are taking can help your doctor determine whether it is a combination of your medications that are causing ED. This will also help your doctor to determine the best course of action in your treatment.
The following are high blood pressure medications that are less likely to cause ED.
- ACE inhibitors (angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors)
- angiotensin II receptor blockers
- alpha blockers
- calcium channel blockers
Along with asking your doctor about other medications for high blood pressure, also ask about any lifestyle changes that may help you with your hypertension. Some of the things that you can do include:
- reduce your sodium intake
- quit smoking
- lose weight
- get active
- add potassium-rich foods to your diet
Making healthier choices could lower your blood pressure without the need for medication and help you get your sex life back on track.