In the article, we'll be explaining how having high blood pressure can increase your chances of experiencing erectile dysfunction, how the medication used to treat high blood pressure could be the surprising cause of your ED and how to treat it when that happens.
First let's explain how an erection works.
The penis has two chambers that are made of spongy muscle tissues. When you are sexually aroused, your brain sends a signal that elicits a hormonal response.This allows the arteries to fully open.
When your arteries are fully open, blood flows so quickly that it does not have enough time to exit through your veins. The blood is then trapped in those two chambers in your penis, causing your penis to become firm and voila! An erection is formed!
Erectile dysfunction, often known either as ED or impotence, is a common sexual condition that affects your ability to either get or maintain an erection long enough for sex.
Erectile dysfunction can be caused by either physical or psychological causes. In most cases, erectile dysfunction is often a mix of both physical and psychological causes.
Physical causes of ED can often include health conditions like diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, high cholesterol or high blood pressure, while psychological causes of ED can include conditions like anxiety, stress, depression or just feeling too nervous to perform.
High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is a common health issue that occurs when your blood pressure is raised to an unhealthy level.
When you have high blood pressure, you are more likely to experience erectile dysfunction. This is because high blood pressure can narrow, rapture or even damage your blood vessels. This leads to less blood being able to flow freely towards your penis, making it difficult to get and maintain an erection.
You might be prescribed medication to help treat your high blood pressure. However, it is possible that certain high blood pressure medication can lower your blood pressure so much that it becomes the cause for your erectile dysfunction.
Here are some high blood pressure medication that have been linked to causing erectile dysfunction:
Also known as "water pills", diuretics are often prescribed as the first line of treatment for high blood pressure. Diuretics work by increasing the amount and the frequency that you urinate, which decrease the fluids and sodium in your body. This reduction of sodium and fluids lowers your blood volume, slowing down the rate of the blood flowing through your blood vessels and ultimately reducing your blood pressure.
However, it is possible that with diuretics, your blood pressure is reduced so much that there is insufficient blood flow needed to create and maintain an erection.
Aside from diuretics, beta-blockers are another commonly prescribed medication used to treat high blood pressure. They help treat high blood pressure by blocking the actions of hormones like adrenaline and epinephrine, which can constrict your blood vessels and increase your blood pressure.
By blocking these hormones, beta-blockers are able to reduce the strength of the contractions of your heart, decrease the amount of blood being pumped and ultimately reduce your blood pressure. Beta-blockers also inhibit the production of the hormone, angiotensin II. This will help to relax and widen your blood vessels.
Similar to diuretics, beta-blockers can reduce your blood pressure so much that there is insufficient blood flowing to your penis to create and maintain an erection.
There are several high blood pressure medications that have no links to causing erectile dysfunction. Consider speaking to your doctor to see if any of these medications are suitable for you to take instead.
Angiotensin II is a hormone that tightens the muscles within the blood vessels, which in turn causes blood pressure to rise.
As the name suggests, Angiotensin II Receptor Blockers (ARBs) blocks AT1 receptors and reduces the effect of angiotensin II. As ARBs block the effect of angiotensin II, the muscles within the blood vessels are able to relax and blood pressure is lowered.
According to a study done by Current Hypertension Reports, researchers found there was evidence linking ARBs to erectile dysfunction or any other sexual side effects.
Medications like calcium channel blockers, also known as calcium antagonists, have been used since the 1970s to treat high blood pressure. As calcium can cause more forceful heart contractions, CCBs work to lower blood pressure by reducing both the amount and the rate of calcium flowing into the arterial walls and into the heart.
When calcium is reduced, your blood vessels are able to relax and widen, which lowers your blood pressure.
According to a study done by Current Hypertension Reports, researchers found no link connecting calcium channel blockers to erectile dysfunction.
Similar to ARBs, Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme Inhibitors (ACE Inhibitors) help to prevent the hormone angiotensin II from raising your blood pressure.
Rather than blocking receptors of angiotensin II, ACE inhibitors reduce and stop the production of angiotensin II. As the levels of angiotensin II in the body is reduced, the muscles within the blood vessels are able to relax and blood is able to flow more freely, lowering blood pressure.
In a study done by the Netherlands Heart Journal, researchers found that ACE inhibitors do not cause any sexual side effects like erectile dysfunction.
Besides adjusting your high blood pressure medication, your doctor might prescribe your oral medication like Viagra, Cialis or Avanafil. These medications are often prescribed as a first line of treatment when it comes to erectile dysfunction.
These medications belong to a classification of drugs called phosphodiesterase-5 inhibitors (PDE5 inhibitors). They restrict the production of the enzyme PDE5 which degrades cGMP, a molecule that relaxes the muscle tissues in your body. By restricting and slowing down PDE5, your muscles and walls of your blood vessels will begin to relax. This relaxation of the muscles and the blood vessels then allows for more blood to flow readily into your penis and make it easier to create and maintain an erection.
Despite often being touted as a "miracle pill", ED medication like Viagra, Cialis or Avanafil won't grant you a hard on immediately after you take it. You will still need to be aroused for an erection to happen. However with the medication, you will find it a lot easier to get an and maintain an erection.
Taking these ED medication is safe for most men, however it is possible you might experience some mild side effects like:
- Chest Pains
- Nasal Congestion
You can also consider other forms of ED treatment like penile implants, suppositories or even vacuum restriction devices.
If you are experiencing erectile dysfunction, it is advisable that you consult a doctor. Here at Noah, doctors on our platform are best equipped with the knowledge to help you ascertain the root cause of your erectile dysfunction and can determine whether generic Viagra is right for you. They will be able to advise you on the best treatment suited for you, and can also prescribe you the right medication should you need it.
Fogari, Roberto, and Annalisa Zoppi. “Effects of antihypertensive therapy on sexual activity in hypertensive men.” Current hypertension reports vol. 4,3 (2002): 202-10. doi:10.1007/s11906-002-0008-3 (Link)
Nicolai, M P J et al. “A review of the positive and negative effects of cardiovascular drugs on sexual function: a proposed table for use in clinical practice.” Netherlands heart journal : monthly journal of the Netherlands Society of Cardiology and the Netherlands Heart Foundation vol. 22,1 (2014): 11-9. doi:10.1007/s12471-013-0482-z (Link)