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Sometimes people will discover that they have a low sex drive without realising they have high blood pressure. Experts explain that it is a good idea to get regular check-ups to ensure there are not any underlying problems responsible for their poor libido, reports Sade Oguntola.
It sounded rather amusing when at a seminar the crowd were told that leaving a stressful life reduces libido and that sometimes the reason some men experience poor libido is due to exertion at work place and this can result to hypertension.
Hypertension, an uncontrolled high blood pressure is coming up strong in some countries of the world, Nigeria inclusive. However, hypertension is a complex disease with many risk factors such as age, gender, nutrition, environment, stress, obesity and heredity interacting to determine those that may have a raised blood pressure.
Blood pressure measures the rate at which blood pushes against the walls of the arteries as it moves through the body. The systolic pressure is when your heart is contracted and is pumping blood into the body, and the diastolic pressure is the rate when the heart is resting between pumps.
When blood pressure is too high on a regular basis, it can quietly damage the organs of the body for years before symptoms develop. But, despite the apparently invisibility of stress and high blood pressure, their effects can linger throughout many life activities, including sex. Unfortunately, the biggest problem with high blood pressure is that many people who have it don’t feel it. The absence of immediate symptoms makes it easy to ignore, or stop drug treatment when side effects appear.
Sex-related side effects such as impotence and ejaculation problems in men, painful or uncomfortable intercourse, difficulty having an orgasm in women, and lack of desire in both sexes have been ascribed to virtually all classes of drugs used to control blood pressure.
Can high blood pressure and sex be related? Well, Dr Cecilia Babalola, an internal medicine expert, who was in Nigeria as part of the Medical Mission of Mercy from the USA, explained that the link between high blood pressure and the overall satisfaction with sex men had been proven. In fact, poor libido is quite common in men who have high blood pressure, especially those who aren’t treating their condition.
According to her, “blood pressure affects all organs of the body, including the kidney, heart, brain and blood vessels. It damages the lining of blood vessels and causes arteries to harden and narrow, limiting blood flow. However, since a man achieves erection when the male organ gets supplied with blood, anything that cuts down on blood supply would cause a decreased libido. So definitely, they are interwoven and definitely high blood pressure can lead to decreased libido.”
For some men, the decreased blood flow makes it difficult to achieve and maintain erections — often referred to as erectile dysfunction. The problem is fairly common, especially among men who are not treating their high blood pressure. Unfortunately, even a single episode of erectile dysfunction can cause anxiety. Fears that it will happen again might lead men to avoid sex — and affect relationship with their sexual partners. In some instances, the fear of having sex in some individuals with high blood pressure may cause heart attack, which on its own contributes to poor libido.
The biggest irony of the strange relationship between blood pressure and sex surfaces when you study the effect of high blood pressure medicines on sexual functioning. Some of the medicines used for treating high blood pressure can further deplete sex drive by causing erectile dysfunction.
Mr. Akinlolu Akinseye, West District representative of Pfizer Specialties’, in a talk he gave in Ibadan, explained that the chances of a man having quality sex reduce due to several factors including hypertension.
Mr. Akinseye explained: “Take high blood pressure for example, this makes the heart to work harder, so putting more strain on the blood vessels which then harden and narrow. A hardened and narrowed blood vessel can prevent blood from getting to the penis and that makes it more difficult to get or keep an erection.”
High blood pressure medications that can cause sexual dysfunction as a side effect include diuretics. For example, diuretics can decrease forceful blood flow to the penis, making it difficult to achieve an erection. They can also deplete the body of zinc, which is necessary to make the sex hormone testosterone. In addition, beta blockers, another group of drugs for treating hypertension can affect the nervous system reaction that causes an erection. Beta blockers can also make it difficult for the arteries in the penis to widen (dilate) to let in enough blood flow to cause an erection.
For now, high blood pressure’s effect on sexual problems in women isn’t well understood. But it’s possible that high blood pressure could affect a woman’s sex life. Experts are of the opinion that high blood pressure can reduce blood flow to the vagina. For some women, this leads to a decrease in sexual desire or arousal, vaginal dryness, or difficulty achieving orgasm. Improving arousal and lubrication can help. Like men, women can experience anxiety and relationship issues due to sexual dysfunction. Women should talk to their doctor if they experience these difficulties.
Certainly, people need not live with a loss of sexual satisfaction. Professor Babatunde Salako, a nephrologists at the University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan, Oyo State, said men that experience low libido as a result of their antihypertensive medications should open up to their doctor about the problem.
According to him, there was no point in not disclosing such an information to their doctors. Their doctors’ knowledge of the problem could lead them to look for replacement of the medications with other ones if need be, or even prescribe drugs to boost libido.
Since diuretics and beta-blockers may lead to erection problems, some men overcome this by taking male sexual enhancement drugs. The drugs are usually safe to be taken with blood pressure medication, but you should always consult a physician before taking them to make sure. Sexual enhancement drugs should not be taken if you are using nitrates, usually prescribed for angina or chest pain.
Nonetheless, by making healthy lifestyle choices, one can lower one’s blood pressure and potentially improve on one’s sex life. Healthy lifestyle choices include not smoking or using tobacco; eating healthy foods; reducing the amount of salt intake; losing weight, managing stress and exercising regularly.
written by bembino, January 12, 2012