Erectile difficulties can happen at any age for a variety of reasons; in fact, most men experience some type of erectile issue at some point during their lives. The reason for ED might be temporary, or there might be an underlying cause that’s contributing to ongoing ED symptoms; including high blood pressure. Some men are able to lower their BP through lifestyle changes alone, but many others need additional help from high blood pressure medication.
Unfortunately, many common types of blood pressure drugs can also significantly affect erectile function. This can make it difficult to stay on medication, and might seem like a vicious cycle; however, there are many alternatives that can help.
While many drugs used to treat high blood pressure have been linked to ED, some are much less likely than others to cause problems. Certain high blood pressure drugs may even improve erectile dysfunction for some men. It’s important to speak with your healthcare provider before changing or trying any new medications, particularly when it comes to blood pressure.
What types of blood pressure medications affect erectile function?
Typically, there are a few different blood pressure medications that have been known to affect erectile function, including:
- Water pills (diuretics): 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.
- Beta blockers: These medications, especially older generation beta blockers such as propranolol (Inderal, Innopran XL), are commonly associated with sexual dysfunction.
If you take a diuretic, you should stay on it until high blood pressure is under control. If erection problems persist, or blood pressure goes back up, then your doctor might switch to a drug that's less likely to cause erectile dysfunction. Or, a combination of medications might work better to control high blood pressure and lower the risk of erectile dysfunction.
If you take a beta blocker, you may also want to ask your doctor if it might cause erectile dysfunction. You might be better off on a medication less likely to cause a problem.
High blood pressure drugs less likely to cause ED
Some families of high blood pressure drugs rarely cause ED as a side effect. They include:
- ACE inhibitors
- Calcium channel blockers
Even if you do not take blood pressure drugs, you should get your blood pressure checked, as high blood pressure is actually often a sign of ED.
If you are already experiencing some erectile difficulties, consider helping your physical symptoms through penile exercises and vacuum pumps. When used, vacuum pumps create a vacuum around the penis, quickly drawing in blood, resulting in an erection. Many users report improvements after using vacuum pumps: in fact, 86.66% of hydro pump users report better and longer-lasting erections (Survey, Q1 2020).
Additionally, taking up healthy habits such as exercise (particularly aerobic exercise) have been shown to help with erectile issues and overall cardiovascular health.