Leading a healthy lifestyle can help reduce the chances of experiencing erectile dysfunction (ED). This can include everything from limiting alcohol intake, staying active, and avoiding smoking. But maintaining a healthy blood pressure is one of the best ways to prevent ED. Here's why:
How Erections Work
To understand why avoiding high blood pressure (hypertension) helps prevent ED, it's important to have a basic understanding of how erections work. It’s actually a pretty complicated process, but to put it simply, when a man is aroused, the brain and nerves in the genital area signal the blood vessels in the penis to relax, which allows blood to rush in. This causes the penis to expand and stiffen, resulting in an erection.
How Does High Blood Pressure Affect Erections?
Blood pressure is the force of blood pressing against the walls of the body's arteries. The higher the blood pressure, the harder the heart must work. Over time, the increased pressure can cause damage to the walls of the arteries, which makes it difficult for them to dilate and allow the influx of blood that is needed to achieve an erection. It can also make it harder for the muscles of the penis to relax. Studies have shown that around 50-80% of men with chronic hypertension also have erectile dysfunction.
Why Lowering Blood Pressure Can Help
When blood pressure is healthy, the heart and arteries are operating at maximum efficiency to move blood throughout the body, including to the penis. Better blood flow ultimately results in overall better health, which can positively affect sexual health. Men can help lower their blood pressure naturally by exercising more, losing weight if needed, cutting back on sugars and refined carbs, eating less sodium, and reducing stress. If lifestyle changes alone are not enough to keep blood pressure under control, medication may be necessary. Your doctor will take your entire medical history into consideration when making treatment recommendations. Some medications used to treat hypertension, such as beta-blockers and diuretics, can cause or worsen ED symptoms, so make sure to talk to your doctor about any symptoms you may be having.
Erectile dysfunction is common in men with hypertension, but there are many ways to reduce the risk for ED. Lifestyle changes and appropriate treatment for high blood pressure will not only help to maximize sexual health, but overall health as well.