While there are several studies that paint painfully brutal facts about erectile dysfunction (ED), there are roughly 18 million men in the US who are actively battling ED. However, chances are that those who are afflicted also suffer from high blood pressure, since approximately 103 million Americans (roughly a third of the population) are also struggling with high blood pressure.
These facts in and of itself might not seem crucial independently, but when you combine the two, the results could be alarming. Why? Because high blood pressure is a condition that can lead to erectile dysfunction. But, many people are unaware that a link also exists between blood pressure drugs and erectile dysfunction.
If you take medication to lower your blood pressure, you could inadvertently be causing or contributing to sexual dysfunction (such as ED or even premature ejaculation). There are some serious side effects that can occur and you should never try to mix blood pressure drugs with drugs designed to help with ED such as Viagra or Cialis, or their generic drug counterparts, Sildenafil and Tadalafil.
Three Things to Know About Blood Pressure Medication and Erectile Dysfunction
To understand how blood pressure medication can affect those struggling with ED, it’s important to understand how erectile dysfunction occurs. Since blood flow is vital to proper sexual functions, and in order to get or maintain an erection you need 6 times the regular blood flow to the penis, anything negatively impacts blood flow, can cause problems.
Remember, when blood pressure is high it means that there is extra strain on the arteries, decreasing the flow of blood. When blood flow is decreased, sex drive can also drop along with the ability to get an erection. For that reason, there is often a connection between high blood pressure and sexual dysfunction.
That being said, it’s important to illuminate the effects blood pressure medication can have on your sexual health. With this information in mind, you may find that you want to switch to different medication to minimize your symptoms. Of course, you’ll need to talk to your doctor first and any alterations to medication you take should be at the sole direction of your doctor.
1. How Does Blood Pressure Medication Affect Sexual Health?
When they do their job properly, blood pressure lowering drugs reduce blood flow to all areas of the body, including to the penis. This is the role that blood pressure reduction medication has.
This decrease in blood flow can lead to a reduction in sexual desire. It can also cause problems with ejaculation and erections (both achieving and maintaining them).
2. Types of Blood Pressure Medications That Can Cause ED
There are certain types of blood pressure medications that are more likely to cause erectile dysfunction. The two main culprits are diuretics and beta-blockers.
- Diuretics (water pills): These drugs may decrease blood flow to the penis; they may also cause zinc depletion, and zinc is necessary for testosterone production.
- Beta-blockers (atenolol, propranolol, etc.): These drugs decrease blood flow and can suppress the central nervous system.
If you’re taking either of these medications and are also experiencing erectile dysfunction, there’s a possibility that the drugs could be responsible.
3. Blood Pressure Medications That Are Less Likely to Cause ED
The good news is that there are many other types of blood pressure medication that you can use besides the three listed above.
Some medications that are less likely to cause erectile dysfunction or other sexual side effects include:
- Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors (Benazepril, Fosinopril, etc.)
- Angiotensin II receptor blockers (Eprosartan, Captopril, etc.)
- Calcium channel blockers (Felodipine, Nicardipine, etc.)
If you’re taking a diuretic or beta-blocker to treat your high blood pressure, you may want to talk to your doctor about switching to one of these other medications instead.
How to Improve ED While Using Blood Pressure Medication
Some people panic when they learn that their blood pressure medication could be causing their erectile dysfunction. What are they supposed to do if they can’t stop taking their blood pressure medication?
If you’re feeling this way right now, there’s good news: It is possible to treat ED without going off your blood pressure medication. However, you should always check with your doctor on this first. So keep in mind that there are options out there.
In addition to potentially changing medications, there are some other steps you can take to treat your ED, including the following:
Oral medications are commonly used to treat erectile dysfunction. Some of the most common oral medications include:
- Sildenafil (brand name Viagra)
- Tadalafil (brand name Adcirca or Cialis)
- Vardenafil (brand name Levitra or Staxyn)
- Avanafil (brand name Stendra)
These medications all function in virtually the same way.
They enhance nitric oxide effects. Nitric oxide is a naturally occurring chemical in the body that relaxes the muscles of the penis. When the effects of nitric oxide are increased, this leads to increased blood flow and can help you achieve and maintain an erection.
Other Medications and Procedures
In addition to these oral medications, there are other drugs one can use to treat erectile dysfunction. Some commonly used drugs include:
- Penile injections
- Penile suppositories
- Testosterone replacement therapy
Penile injections and penile suppositories are both used to help individuals with erectile dysfunction achieve a temporary erection. Their effects usually last between 30 and 60 minutes.
Your doctor may recommend testosterone replacement therapy if they find that your levels are lower than normal. By increasing your testosterone production, you may experience an increase in your sex drive and ability to achieve and maintain an erection.
Manage Your Mental Health
Your doctor may also recommend that you take a look at your mental health. Often, mental health issues like depression, anxiety, and chronic stress can contribute to or cause erectile dysfunction.
Working with a counselor or psychologist can help you to address these issues and improve your mental health. This, in turn, may improve your sexual health and sexual performance.
Improve Your Overall Health
In addition to using these therapies alongside your blood pressure medication, it’s important to note that you may also be able to naturally lower your blood pressure (and reduce your need for blood pressure medication) by taking steps to improve your overall health.
This includes making healthy lifestyle choices like:
- Quitting smoking and/or using tobacco
- Eating a healthy, balanced diet low in processed or refined foods
- Limiting your alcohol consumption
- Attaining and maintaining a healthy weight
- Exercising regularly
- Managing your stress levels
Many people find that, when they take this approach, their blood pressure decreases and their sexual health gets much better.
Start Treating ED Today
You now know much more about the link between blood pressure medication and erectile dysfunction. Do you think your blood pressure medication is the cause of your ED?
The good news is that you can take steps to improve your ED without having to stop using your blood pressure medication.
If you’re interested in using medication to treat your erectile dysfunction, we can help.
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