High blood pressure, otherwise known as hypertension, can contribute to erectile dysfunction (ED). Some of the medications used to treat high blood pressure can cause ED as well. According to the authors of one study, about 30 percent of men with high blood pressure also have had ED. Finding a medication that treats high blood pressure without causing ED is a goal of many men.

The first step toward this goal is learning about the relationships among ED, high blood pressure, and blood pressure medications. Modifying your lifestyle can also help.

High blood pressure damages your arteries. Over time, it can cause your arteries to become less flexible and narrow. This reduces your blood flow. Not only does it put you at risk of heart attack and stroke, it also limits the blood that circulates to your penis. Proper blood flow through the arteries is needed to get and maintain an erection.

Left untreated, high blood pressure can cause ED. However, some drug treatments for high blood pressure can also impair sexual function and cause ED. It may seem a bit like a vicious circle, but it isn’t necessarily. Not all high blood pressure medications cause ED.

Some blood pressure drugs are more likely to lead to ED than others. If you learn which high blood pressure drugs are more likely to cause erectile dysfunction as a side effect, then you can talk with your doctor about them. This will help you get treatment that is best for you both in and out of the bedroom.

Blood pressure drugs that are more likely to cause ED

Two types of blood pressure drugs — beta blockers and diuretics — are more likely to cause ED.

Beta blockers: These drugs affect the same part of the nervous system responsible for causing erections. But they restrict blood flow to the penis, which can keep you from having an erection. Examples of beta blockers include:

  • metoprolol (Lopressor, Toprol-XL)
  • atenolol (Tenormin)
  • propranolol (Inderal)
  • carvedilol (Coreg)

Diuretics: Diuretics are also referred to as water pills. They can make the flow of blood to your penis less intense. This makes getting an erection difficult. Diuretics are also known to lower zinc levels, which can decrease the amount of testosterone your body makes. In turn, this can decrease your sex drive. It may also affect your muscle contraction.

Blood pressure drugs that are less likely to cause ED

Some blood pressure drugs have fewer reports of ED from the men who have taken them. These drugs include:

Your doctor may be able to change your high blood pressure treatment to reduce your likelihood of ED. For some men, the change may be a matter of a dosage adjustment. Other men may need a completely different type of medication.

Speak openly about your side effects as well as any other medications and supplements that you take. This information can help your doctor determine what is causing your ED. It will also help your doctor determine the best course of action in your treatment.