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How high blood pressure can lead to erectile dysfunction

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Let's talk about sex

Sex may permeate our popular culture, but conversations about it are still associated with stigma and shame in Indian homes. As a result, most people dealing with sexual health issues or trying to find sexual information often rely on unidentified online sources or follow their friends’ non-scientific advice.

To address the widespread misinformation about sex, News18.com runs this weekly sex column entitled “Let’s Talk Sex”. Through this column I would like to start a conversation about sex and address sexual health issues with scientific insights and nuances.

This column was written by Professor Saransh Jain, a sexologist. In today’s column, Dr. Jain discusses the relationship between hypertension and erectile dysfunction.

High blood pressure (high blood pressure) is the main cause of erectile dysfunction. It puts people at a higher risk of ED. You can have a healthy erection when your blood flows naturally. Natural arousal leads to increased blood flow to your penis, causing an erection. This process becomes more difficult with high blood pressure. In this case, the blood vessels contract, slowing the natural flow of blood. High blood pressure not only increases the risk of stroke and heart attack, but also complicates erections. Men with high blood pressure are almost twice as likely to have erectile dysfunction and impaired blood flow in the penis as men with normal blood pressure.

Why high blood pressure is a silent killer

High blood pressure can occur for a variety of reasons, including medical conditions such as kidney disease and lifestyle choices such as smoking and a high-sodium diet. Sometimes people develop high blood pressure without a specific cause.

Regardless of the reason for high blood pressure, untreated chronic high blood pressure can damage the heart and blood vessels, ultimately leading to life-threatening conditions such as heart disease and stroke. Doctors also call it a “silent killer” because the symptoms are less noticeable.

Link between erectile dysfunction and high blood pressure

To understand that high blood pressure can lead to erectile dysfunction, we first need to understand how erections work. Getting an erection is a complex process.

The shaft of the penis has two side-by-side chambers of corpus cavernosum tissue called the corpus cavernosum. They are made up of small arteries and veins, smooth muscle fibers and empty space. The chamber is wrapped in a thin tissue sheath.

This is how to get an erection. Signals from the brain travel through nerves to the penis, relaxing the smooth muscles of the chamber and dilating or widening the arteries. This allows a large amount of blood to fill the empty space. Due to the pressure of the bloodstream, the sheath of the tissue around the chamber presses on the veins that normally drain blood from the penis. It traps blood in the penis. With more blood flowing in, the penis expands, becomes stiff, and erects.

High blood pressure damages blood vessels and arteries, and the arteries that supply blood to the penis fail to function. It also affects the muscles of the penis by creating an unrelaxed state. As a result, your penis does not get enough blood to erect it or keep it upright. In addition, with hypertension, the risk of low testosterone is almost twice as high. The relationship between high blood pressure and low testosterone is still under investigation, but having low testosterone may contribute to erectile dysfunction and decreased libido.

Treatment options for men with high blood pressure and erectile dysfunction

Keeping high blood pressure under control is essential for your overall health. Each year, the silent killer kills or contributes to nearly 500,000 deaths, but only one in four adults with hypertension controls this condition.

At the doctor’s suggestion, it is important to take steps to lower blood pressure through both lifestyle changes and dosing. Unfortunately, many medications prescribed to lower blood pressure affect blood flow and can exacerbate erectile dysfunction. At times, the choices made by men with high blood pressure can exacerbate the problem. Smoking is one of them. Smoking raises blood pressure, damages blood vessels, and reduces blood flow in the body.

By living a healthy lifestyle and working with your doctor, you may be able to regain normal sexual function. Incorporating these lifestyle changes to control blood pressure can be much more successful in treating erection problems.

• Eating well and exercising regularly can help prevent and manage high blood pressure.

• If you need help managing your blood pressure, try the DASH (Diet to Stop High Blood Pressure) diet. This allows you to lower your blood pressure in just two weeks. In general, the DASH diet emphasizes eating whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and low-fat dairy products, limiting salt, fat, and sugar.

• Sodium should be limited to 1,500 milligrams per day. This is about two-thirds of a teaspoon of table salt. We recommend fresh foods without preservatives or fats. Also, read the food label to see how much sodium is in one serving and do not add extra salt.

• Burning calories through exercise helps to keep you in shape and lose weight. Overweight increases the likelihood of erectile dysfunction.

• When it comes to exercising, you don’t have to follow intense training. Find a way to move and increase your heart rate by doing moderate exercise 5 days a week for 30 minutes.

• If you are a smoker, consider a smoking cessation program and seek support from your doctor, family and friends.

Talk to your doctor if you experience erectile dysfunction immediately after starting hypertension treatment. They can work with you to recommend alternatives to existing medicines and troubleshoot problems. Keep in mind that different drugs have different half-lives. This means that it can take days or weeks for the medicine to get out of the body. Therefore, it may take some time for the erection to return after stopping the high blood pressure medication.

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