Almost 60% of American men aged 40 to 59 years have hypertension. This means that their arteries are no longer functioning properly. And that includes the penile arteries. Hence, hypertensive men often find themselves also suffering from erectile dysfunction. Fortunately, there are various ways to manage impotence in hypertensive men.
#1 Lifestyle Modification
Hypertension, obesity, dyslipidemia, and physical inactivity often go together. These factors are consistently associated with endothelial dysfunction. When the endothelium or the inner lining of the blood vessels are damaged, it results in impaired blood flow.
The penis is one of the organs that are most sensitive to blood flow impairment. Thus, when there is endothelial dysfunction, sexual dysfunction in the form of erectile dysfunction consequently follows.
Regular exercise has positive effects on sexual function that are independent of the benefits of exercise on cardiovascular health and endothelial function. Moreover, engaging in physical activities helps with weight reduction, and if coupled with a healthy diet, can help reduce the risks of obesity-induced erectile dysfunction by 30%.
Physical activity often results in improved immune and neuroendocrine functions as well as better vascular health. Exercise causes your blood vessels to widen, resulting in improved blood flow. Moreover, regular exercise also helps fight off inflammation by increasing the body’s anti-inflammatory actions.
Increased nitric oxide production is one of the most important benefits a man can gain from engaging in regular physical activities. This, in turn, helps improve the condition of the endothelial cells. This contributes not just to better blood flow, but also to improved erectile function.
For men suffering from arteriogenic erectile dysfunction or impotence caused by dysfunction of the arteries, aerobic exercise is the most recommended form of physical activity. Engaging in regular aerobic exercise is like hitting two birds with one stone – it benefits your erectile function and it helps you manage your hypertension.
Three sessions of 40-minute aerobic exercise every week can help reduce both systolic and diastolic blood pressure. Walking or jogging in moderate intensity three to five times every week for 30 minutes to an hour can also lower your blood pressure and help improve your erectile function. Even isometric hand-grip exercises, when done regularly, can also help improve both blood pressure and erectile function.
#2 Switching Antihypertensive Therapy
Several antihypertensive medications cause erectile dysfunction as a side effect. For instance, chlorthalidone, a diuretic commonly prescribed to hypertensive patients, is known to cause erectile dysfunction. Studies have shown that older-generation prescription medicines for hypertension often cause erectile dysfunction. These include diuretics, beta-blockers, and central acting medications.
Diuretic drugs are also called water pills specifically because they cause excess water and salt to be removed from the body. Hypertensive patients taking diuretic medication will find themselves urinating frequently as this is how the excess water and salt are excreted from the body.
Diuretics work for hypertensive because when sodium and water get excreted during urination, it lowers the blood volume. When the blood volume is lower, the rate of blood flow also slows down which, in turn, decreases the blood pressure.
Unfortunately, diuretics also decrease forceful penile blood flow which can lead to problems with achieving erections. Moreover, taking diuretic medication can also cause zinc depletion which will affect testosterone production.
Beta-blockers, on the other hand, help reduce blood pressure by slowing down the heart. The medicine’s mechanism of action is also the cause of its various side effects. Examples of side effects associated with beta-blockers include weakness and fatigue.
Beta-blockers may also cause sexual dysfunction because the drugs act on the sympathetic nervous system which, in turn, plays a crucial role in erections, ejaculations, and testosterone release. Knowing that your medication negatively impacts your sexual functions can also cause anxiety, which further contributes to sexual dysfunction.
The problem with medications that negatively affect sexual dysfunction is that the patients may stop taking the medicines just to restore their erectile function. Thus, it’s important for the male hypertensive patient and the healthcare provider to discuss possible side effects of the antihypertensive medications, and to switch to a different treatment, if necessary.
#3 PDE5 Inhibitors
If it’s not possible to switch to a different antihypertensive therapy, one option to manage erectile dysfunction is to use PDE5 inhibiting medications. However, this should be thoroughly discussed with the healthcare provider not only to ensure the patient’s safety but also to determine if such medications are necessary or appropriate.
PDE5 inhibitors such as sildenafil work by increasing the bioavailability of nitric oxide not just in the tissues of the penis, but also in the entire blood system circulation. Thus, PDE5 inhibitors help improve a man’s physical capacity for erections as well as reduce blood pressure.
Although the reduction in blood pressure caused by PDE5 inhibitors is not as significant as the reduction caused by antihypertensive medications, patients suffering from high blood pressure can still benefit from it. In fact, in recent studies, PDE5 inhibitors such as sildenafil were found to benefit pulmonary hypertensive patients.
Specialists don’t recommend PDE5 inhibitors to men who are on alpha-blocker medication or whose blood pressure levels are uncontrolled. PDE5 inhibitors are also not advisable for men who have had incidents of stroke or heart attack in the last six months.
Natural Ways To Manage Hypertension
Although it is always recommended to take prescription medicines to manage hypertension, there are also natural ways to lower blood pressure. Certain vegetables and herbs, for instance, can help with hypertension.
Ginger tea is a healthy drink that can have beneficial effects on both hypertension and erectile function. Ginger helps increase vasodilation which, in turn, improves erectile function. Moreover, ginger also helps stimulate the body to excrete excess water and salt, thus acting as a natural diuretic.
Eating vegetables that have high water content not only helps keep your body hydrated but also stimulates urination. Celery, for instance, helps increase urine production. Other water-rich vegetables include eggplant, cauliflower, and broccoli. Aside from the high water content of broccoli, it also contains many antioxidants which can also help improve fertility and protect the body from various diseases.