Research confirms that high blood pressure and ED are closely linked. But did you know the majority of cases of ED are caused by hypertension? Keep reading to find out more.
Experts suggest that “hypertension is sometimes a standalone condition and sometimes it’s associated with other conditions, which also impact erectile dysfunction.”
According to the European Society of Cardiology, this likelihood is almost double in men with uncontrolled high blood pressure.
Long-term exposure to hypertension and elevated blood pressure damages the arterial wall. This leads to atherosclerosis and the narrowing of arteries which reduces blood flow, causing ED.
Anxiety and fear of re-occurrence after an incidence of erectile dysfunction can strain relationships. Therefore, high blood pressure and erectile dysfunction have been closely linked, as hypertension can dampen libido.
Similar side effects can be brought on by medication.
However, ways to improve high blood pressure and ED include simple steps like adopting a healthier lifestyle and taking prescription medication if necessary. So, precisely what does the research say?
- Research has confirmed a strong connection between high blood pressure and ED or other erection problems.
- Hypertension drug interactions and side effects are also leading causes of ED.
- However, proper diagnosis and treatment can mitigate the risk!
How are High Blood Pressure and ED Linked?
Erectile dysfunction is not a typical concern for the young and healthy. A study by the American Geriatrics Society found that 49% of their sample men aged between 40 and 79 had ED and hypertension.
Hypertension damages arteries and vessels. The penile muscles become tense and rigid, unable to relax due to insufficient blood.
As a result, maintaining an erection becomes a challenge.
A variety of factors are linked to high blood pressure and ED, including:
- Tobacco, alcohol, or drug use.
- Cardiovascular disorders
- Medication side effects
Men with hypertension are also twice as likely to experience low testosterone. This contributes significantly to libido and the probability of developing ED.
Erectile Dysfunction as a Side Effect of Hypertension Medication
According to Harvard Health Publishing, 25% of cases of erectile dysfunction are caused by the side effects of blood pressure, antidepressant, sedative, and stroke medications.
For example, oral rehydration pills, also known as diuretics, reduce the force of blood flow into the penis. They also deplete zinc levels which is essential for testosterone production.
Beta-blockers like Inderal (propranolol) can also cause erectile dysfunction.
Similarly, ED medication is not a suitable option for men with high blood pressure, severe heart disease, and urinary tract or urination conditions.
Never take nitrates and ED drugs together. This can cause blood pressure to drop dangerously low, resulting in hypotension.
Despite the considerations above, you may be able to restore normal penile function and regulate blood pressure by adopting lifestyle changes. Working with your doctor to create a sustainable treatment plan is also critical.
Symptoms and Diagnosis of ED
The primary symptom of ED is difficulty getting and maintaining an erection. Developing erectile dysfunction leads to stroke, heart attacks, and circulatory leg problems.
To diagnose the two conditions, your urologist or GP will inquire about your health history, perform physical examinations, or request lab tests.
Specialized tests might be necessary to create a plan that balances your high blood pressure and ED. This includes a routine blood check on hormone and blood sugar levels.
In more complex situations, ultrasonography, X-rays, and other imaging can check blood flow and previous trauma, like cancer.
It is essential to disclose any underlying conditions or drug or smoking habits to your medical practitioner. Be as transparent as possible, including any stressors, so that they can provide suitable treatment.
Treating Men with High Blood Pressure and Erectile Dysfunction
The good news is that many high blood pressure and ED treatments are compatible.
A few options include:
- Steel rods
- Vacuum devices
- Penile implants
- Medications (oral, injections, and IV)
- PDE5 inhibitors (like Viagra)
- Hormone replacement
The first step to treating ED is maintaining vascular and heart health. If high blood pressure is the root cause, making healthier choices and adding natural supplements may be all that’s needed.
On the other hand, if your doctor determines medication is to blame for the issue, your dosage may be reduced, or alternatives can be recommended. However, do not stop taking blood pressure medication without consulting a professional.
Ask for help!
The stigma around asking for help due to embarrassment is typical.
It’s natural to feel awkward when discussing the connection between high blood pressure and ED.
However, these conditions are part of life, and talking to a counselor or professional will help resolve the issue.
- Viigimaa, M. et al. “Management of erectile dysfunction in hypertension: Tips and tricks.” World Journal of Cardiology 6.9 (2014): 908-915. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4176800/
- “High blood pressure and erectile dysfunction.” HealthyMale.org.au (2021) https://www.healthymale.org.au/news/high-blood-pressure-hypertension-erectile-dysfunction
- Antipolis, S. “How to treat high blood pressure without ruining your sex life.” European Society of Cardiology (2020) https://www.escardio.org/The-ESC/Press-Office/Press-releases/how-to-treat-high-blood-pressure-without-ruining-your-sex-life
- Javaroni, V. and Neves, M. F. “Erectile Dysfunction and Hypertension: Impact on Cardiovascular Risk and Treatment.” International Journal of Hypertension (2012) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3357516/
- “Erectile Dysfunction (ED).” National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/urologic-diseases/erectile-dysfunction/all-content
- “What is Erectile Dysfunction?” Urology Care Foundation (2018) https://www.urologyhealth.org/urology-a-z/e/erectile-dysfunction-(ed)
- Rich, M. W. and Ouslander, J. G. “Hypertension in Older Adults in the Wake of the Systolic Blood Pressure Intervention Trial.” Journal of the American Geriatrics Society 64.4 (2018): 652-654. https://agsjournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/jgs.15326
- Solan, M. “ED can be a side effect of many common drugs, such as blood pressure medications and antidepressants.” Harvard Health Publishing (2021). https://www.health.harvard.edu/mens-health/some-drugs-may-cause-your-erectile-dysfunction