Is high blood pressure spoiling your sex life?

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Is high blood pressure spoiling your sex life?

Sexual satisfaction is one of the best gifts a couple can share.  But if one or both of you have high blood pressure or hypertension, the impact on your sex life may be quite obvious.

High blood pressure is nicknamed “the silent killer” as it has no outward symptoms or signs.  You know having hypertension places you at a greater risk for a heart attack or stroke. But what you may not know is how it can cause challenges in the bedroom taking a great sex life making it of a mediocre or even nonexistent one. 

How men are affected

For men with high blood pressure, the evidence on his sex life will primarily in how it interferes with his ability to achieve an erection or erectile dysfunction (ED).  This results from a reduction in blood flow making it difficult to achieve and maintain an erection. 

The longer a man has had high blood pressure, the more likely ED will happen at some point.  Over time, high blood pressure damages the lining of blood vessels causing arteries to harden and narrow (atherosclerosis), limiting blood flow.  When this happens, less blood is able to flow to the penis which is necessary to make it hard and erect.

Other ways high blood pressure affects men is that it can disrupt ejaculation and reduce his libido.  Even the medications used to treat hypertension can have similar effects.

For men, not being able to achieve an erection can set the course for anxiety.  Some men may become so fearful of it happening they will avoid sex which can affect their relationship with their partner.

How women are affected

Women with hypertension can also have their sex life disrupted.  Just like men require good blood flow to their penis for sex, high blood pressure can reduce blood flow to the vagina.  This can lead to vaginal dryness, difficulty in achieving orgasm, and decreasing sexual desire. 

Women can also experience anxiety and relationship issues due to sexual dysfunction.

Overcoming the challenges of hypertension on sex

The very first thing both men and women should do is discuss this matter with their doctor.  Treatment for high blood pressure and satisfaction with sex can go hand in hand if they are open about the problem and work closely with their doctor.

·      Review medications

A beginning step is to review the side effects of high blood pressure medications that may be disrupting your sex life.  Certain high blood pressure medications causing sexual side effects might include:

·      Water pills or diuretics – These can decrease forceful blood flow to the penis resulting in erectile dysfunction.  They also can deplete the body of zinc, a mineral necessary to make the sex hormone testosterone.

·      Beta blockers – Propranolol is one type of beta blocker commonly associated with sexual dysfunction.

Ask your doctor about other medication options.  Some high blood pressure medications less likely to cause sexual side effects include ACE inhibitors, Calcium channel blockers, and Angiotension II receptor blockers.

Men who are considering taking medication for erectile dysfunction should be able to do so   safely but they need to check with their doctor first. 

·      Practice healthy lifestyle choices

When men and women are making healthy lifestyle choices, this can play a significant part of not only lowering blood pressure but also potentially improving their love life.  Healthy lifestyle choices include:

·      Not smoking

·      Consuming healthy foods

·      Limiting alcohol consumption

·      Reducing sodium intake

·      Losing extra weight if needed

·      Exercising regularly

·      Encourage satisfying sex

To help set the stage for a satisfying and fulfilled sex life, here are some ways in which to do this:

·      Have open communication and dialogue on what each of you want in your sexual relationship

·      Initiate sex when you both are feeling relaxed and in the mood

·      Explore ways to be physically intimate such as giving each other a massage

·      Women with vaginal dryness can try lubrication in the form of a liquid or gel. 

·      Maintain physical affection even when feeling tired or upset.  Engage in kissing, holding hands or cuddling to strengthen the emotional and physical bond between you.

·      Confide in each other about changes in your body.  For women, it might be hot flashes, for men, erectile dysfunction.

·      Avoid criticizing.  Focus on the positives such as expressing, “I really love it when you….” or approach a sexual issue as a problem to be solved together rather than an exercise in assigning blame.