The Link Between High Blood Pressure And Sex
Although the majority of people with high blood pressure experience no symptoms of the condition, the effect that it has on your sex life can be marked and this in itself often sounds a warning bell.
High blood pressure slowly damages the lining of your blood vessels and leads to hardening of your arteries (know as atherosclerosis) which means that the heart has to work harder to pump blood around your body, thus raising the pressure in your arteries. At the same time, this damage to your arteries also means that there is a general lowering of blood flow throughout your body.
For men this means a loss of blood flow to the penis and increasing difficulty in both achieving and maintaining an erection. Even where an erection is achieved and maintained, high blood pressure can also lead to problems with ejaculation.
For most men any sign of sexual dysfunction is extremely worrying and the fear that, having happened once, it might re-appear will lead some men to avoid sex. Such an event therefore not only causes distress to the man, but can also lead to problems in your relationship with your sexual partner.
The effect of high blood pressure on women is less clearly defined and, as yet, has not been fully researched. What we do know though is that high blood pressure results in a lower flow of blood to the vagina, resulting in lower sexual arousal and desire, vaginal dryness and difficulty in achieving orgasm.
Just as is the case with men, many women find this extremely worrying and will shy away from sex, again placing a strain on their relationship with a sexual partner.
So what can be done?
The first thing that you need to do is to talk to your doctor because there are things that can be done to resolve this situation and, even if you are embarrassed about approaching your doctor, getting his help is certainly preferable to living with sexual dissatisfaction and a strained relationship.
Your doctor will not be a stranger to high blood pressure and the affect that it has on sexual function but, if he is to help you, he will need you to be completely open and honest with him. This means that you will need to be prepared to answer questions about your sexual activity, as well as general medical questions covering such things as any medication you are currently taking and whether or not you are currently feeling depressed or are under any form of stress.
There are a range of medications used to treat high blood pressure and two of the most commonly prescribed are diuretics and beta blockers. Both of these can have an affect on sexual function although this is usually not marked as long as these medications are taken exactly as prescribed.
Where however diuretics or beta blockers are causing you a problem, or where you are as yet not taking medication for high blood pressure but are experiencing sexual dysfunction, there are a range of further medications, such as angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors and calcium channel blockers which are less likely to interfere with sexual function.
Which of these will be right for you is of course very much a matter for you and your doctor to discuss and will depend on a variety of different factors, including such things as any medication that you are currently taking.
[On this note, it is also vital that you tell your doctor about any over-the-counter medications you may be using, as well as any health supplements. People often feel that health supplements can be left out of the equation because they classed as foods rather than as medicine, but many health supplements can interact to a considerable degree with prescription medication.]
It is also possible that, if you are already taking medication to control high blood pressure, your doctor will suggest that you stop taking this medication for a period of time to see whether or not your sexual function improves. This is not something which you should try for yourself and should only been done on the advice and under the supervision of your doctor. If this course is followed then it will be necessary to monitor your blood pressure carefully and this is often best achieved by using a home blood pressure monitor.
Another possible avenue to try is the use of medication designed specifically for the problem of erectile dysfunction such as sildenafil (Viagra), vardenafil (Levitra) and tadalafil (Cialis). Although it is normally safe to take these in combination with medication for high blood pressure you should seek the advice of your doctor before doing so. You should also be aware that if you are taking any form of nitrate medication for chest pain then the use of erectile dysfunction medication can lead to a dangerous drop in your blood pressure.
High blood pressure is not of course the only cause of sexual dysfunction but standard preventative measures to reduce or prevent high blood pressure, such as giving up smoking, eating a healthy diet and taking regular exercise, can have a marked affect on your sexual function.
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