High Blood Pressure's Effect on Your Sex Life

Jun 3, 2016

High Blood Pressure's Effect on Your Sex Life

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As we age, it becomes much more likely that we will develop high blood pressure. In fact, 64 percent of men and 69.3 percent of women between the ages of 65 and 74 are affected by hypertension.

It is uncommon for people with hypertension to experience any outward symptoms until blood pressure spikes to a dangerously high level. Over time, hypertension overworks the body’s heart and other organs, eventually damaging blood vessels and causing arteries to harden. When blood flow is obstructed to areas like the pelvis, it’s possible that one’s sex life may become a little lackluster.

An American Heart Associate Volunteer, Dr. Gina Lundberg says that “in a man, it’s a little more obvious,” however high blood pressure can affect both sexes just as much, though in different ways.

How Are Men Affected?

A man as young as 35 can have a blood pressure high enough that it affects their sexual performance. Although old age comes with the likelihood of developing hypertension, this shows that almost anyone can be affected by erectile dysfunction. It’s even possible that an underlying heart condition may be present the younger this dysfunction occurs. 

Essentially, this restricted blood flow makes maintaining an erection difficult, thus interfering with ejaculation and reducing sexual desire in general. After a recurring inability to perform, it’s not uncommon for men to develop anxiety about their condition. However, older men aren’t alone in their struggle to keep their sexual wellbeing.

How Are Women Affected?

Although it’s not yet well understood, high blood pressure can also have an effect on a woman’s interest in sex and her ability to maintain satisfaction. A few issues include a decrease in arousal, vaginal dryness, and/or difficulty achieving orgasm. Discussing ways to improve arousal or using lubrication with your partner can help to overcome some of these difficulties – don’t let a few roadblocks discourage your trip down pleasure road! 

Medications and Other Risks

If you aren’t feeling a desire for physical intimacy it’s important not to blame yourself – sometimes high blood pressure medications can have a negative effect on sexual function.

It’s been proven that beta-blockers and occasionally ACE inhibitors can cause erectile dysfunction. However, it is very important to continue taking these medications as prescribed even though you’re experiencing this side effect. Be sure to consult your doctor to find out if there is a better plan or any adjustments that can be made to your regimen.

Generally, it is safe to combine these medications with anti-erectile dysfunction drugs, however, you won’t want to risk trying a new pill or supplement without a consultation from your doctor.

For men taking nitrates for a heart condition, avoid taking drugs like Viagra at all costs – mixing the two can cause a dangerous drop in blood pressure and can precipitate a heart attack.

Approaching Intimacy with Hypertension 

If you are suffering a diminished sex life, talk with your doctor to learn if there are any other factors that may be affecting you. Be ready to answer questions like: 

  • What medications are you taking?
  • Has the relationship with your partner changed recently?
  • Have you been depressed lately?
  • Is there any added stress in your life?
  • How is your diet?

Besides a medicinal solution, there are several ways to help spark you and your partner’s intimacy once again.

One of the best approaches to take is to focus on your general health and wellbeing first. Make an effort to quit smoking, drink less alcohol, reduce your salt intake, and exercise regularly – all things that will also benefit your high blood pressure.

Eating healthy, heart-conscious foods will not only help you lose a few extra pounds but can strengthen your body and improve your confidence with your partner. Remember, staying open and communicating with your partner is important to having satisfying sex. Finding a relaxed approach to exploring new ways to be physically intimate with one another can make a huge difference.

Finally, eliminating stress will not only help your intimacy, but also benefit your heart and blood pressure.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What blood pressure reading is considered normal for an elderly adult?

Typically, a blood pressure of 120/80 is considered normal. However, for elderly adults (60 or older) a reading of 140/90 is considered acceptable but could indicate pre-hypertension. Generally speaking, most seniors do have higher blood pressures, even if they don't experience hypertension. If you’re worried that your blood pressure may be too high, consult your doctor and always opt for a professional cardiovascular assessment. 

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I can't afford my high blood pressure medicine, so I've only been taking half. Is this okay?

No, generally speaking, it is not. It is important that you abide by the dosage your doctor prescribed. Uncontrolled high blood pressure is a condition that can put excessive stress on your heart and several other vital organs. You may feel fine now, but taking less medication than is recommended is not worth the risk. For additional coverage, you may want to seek out more details regarding Medicare Part D for prescription medications. 

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