Are Blood Pressure And Erectile Dysfunction Related?

Introduction

Are blood pressure and erectile dysfunction related? Both of them classify as diseases that can disrupt one’s lifestyle but how is one related to the other? Let us find out. High Blood pressure in common terms refers to as hypertension, a growingly common illness today. A poor lifestyle devoid of physical activity and a balanced, nutritious diet along with intoxications like smoking and alcohol abuse are all reasons for hypertension.

Interestingly, the above causes are also the same for ED or impotence. Common causes aside, blood pressure can also lead to erectile dysfunction. Hypertension can damage the blood vessels or even clog them, which would eventually reduce the blood flow to the penis, leading to ED. Conversely, patients diagnosed with impotence are at an increased risk (about 38%) of hypertension as ED patients are often stressed due to troublesome intimate relationships.

Blood pressure patients usually tackle their condition in two ways, i.e. they either follow certain lifestyle changes by adding some form of exercise to their routine and consuming a nutritious diet, or take medications for the same. Although medications provide effective and quick treatment, it is generally a bad idea to rely on medications and bear with their side effects. Like every other drug, blood pressure, medications also have their own set of side effects. 

Drugs that cause Erectile Dysfunction

One such side effect is impotence. Yes, you read that right. Around 25% of all erectile dysfunction is reported to be a result of side effects from other drugs. Although this is the case with only some of the drugs used to treat hypertension, like – thiazide diuretics, beta-blockers, and loop diuretics. Thiazide is reported to cause ED in around 3% to 36% of the men tested. Let us read about them in detail.

Thiazide diuretics (Clorpres, Tenoretic, Lasix, etc):

Diuretics or ‘water pills’ as they are generally known, are a certain class of drugs which increase the urine flow in an individual. Diuretics like Thiazide are used for the treatment of hypertension and also some chronic heart conditions. However, these drugs also harm one’s libido. Thiazide helps the body get rid of excess salt and consequently reduces blood flow and then blood pressure. 

This could also lead to reduced blood flow to the penis, resulting in low libido. You might want to contact your doctor if you notice symptoms of ED when prescribed diuretics like Thiazide. The doctor would then provide you with modified treatment that has minimal or no effects on your sex life.

Beta-Blockers (Atenolol, Inderal, Coreg, etc):

Beta-blockers are also prescribed for the treatment of high blood pressure. Beta-blockers work by impacting the nervous system. They affect the production of a hormone called epinephrine. Epinephrine is responsible for the contraction of blood vessels, which causes an increase in the overall blood pressure of an individual. However, inhibiting the secretion of epinephrine may affect the part of the nervous system responsible for sending the penis signals indicating an erection as well as reduce the blood flow to the shaft of the penis, which is crucial for achieving erections. 

However, you need not worry as these are not the only drugs available in the market to treat hypertension. There are other medicines too that do not cause erectile dysfunction. Some of these drugs are alpha-blockers, ACE inhibitors, and calcium channel blockers. Popular options include Cardura, Lotensil, and Amlodipine respectively.

Medications available for Erectile Dysfunction

ED is not a medical condition that holds you back in any way. Thanks to the advances in medical sciences, there is a wide range of drugs available to treat impotence, depending upon your medical history and accompanying medical conditions, if any. Most of the common ED drugs are from a class of medicines called PDE5 inhibitors. Common names in this category include Viagra, Cialis, Levitra, and Stendra. However, your doctor may not prescribe these to you if you are already on any drugs for treating high blood pressure due to contraindications. 

Psychology – A Factor Generally Overlooked 

Aside from all the above drugs that cause ED, there is one factor that is sometimes overlooked. It is your brain or psychological factor. Yes, that is right! Your brain has a very important role when it comes to impotence. This is because the brain is an important link when it comes to sexual arousal. The brain sends signals to the erectile tissues and other parts of the nervous system to direct blood flow to the penis whenever you are sexually aroused. 

A study was conducted among men taking hypertension medicines like thiazide and beta-blockers by the American College of Cardiology. A part of the group was told about ED as a side effect of the drug and the other part wasn’t.

The results had the following findings:

  1. A third of the participants (around 36%) reported symptoms of ED from the group which was told about ED as a possible side effect.
  2. Only 3% of the participants from the other group reported symptoms of ED.

The conclusion drawn from the study was that preconceived notions and prior knowledge about the side effects were a major reason for participants to experience symptoms of impotence. Therefore, it can be inferred from the results of the study that prior knowledge of a side effect may trigger its effects but this phenomenon would be purely an outcome of one’s thoughts.

Conclusion

Just like every medical ailment, your doctor’s advice is paramount in case of hypertension as well. And, if you decide to make suitable changes to your lifestyle that would be the best choice for you, as it would only have a positive impact on your overall health without any negative side effects.

If you do experience symptoms of impotence due to your hypertension drug, it won’t be a bad idea to reach out to your doctor and look for an appropriate treatment that suits you. Statistics show that around 70% of men who experience ED symptoms due to their blood pressure medicines stop taking them. This is not only a childish act, but it could result in adverse consequences for you.

Also, consider being less apprehensive about your medication and their side effects. Your doctor probably knew about them when he prescribed you that drug.