Erectile dysfunction is a problem that is very common in men. It can strike any man no matter what age, with the frequency increasing as they age. It becomes a problem in sexual intercourse leading to dissatisfaction for men and their partners.
It is becoming so frequent that this dysfunction may affect over 300 million men by 2025, with additional risk factors.
Apart from age, many other factors contribute to this dysfunction. In this article, we’ll examine whether or not low blood pressure or hypotension is among the factors that can cause it.
How Erections Work
Before we dive in, it is important to understand the underlying mechanism of the erection. How do erections work? What goes on in men’s bodies to make it happen?
The Primary Players
Well, the erection of a penis all starts in the shaft. Within this shaft are side-by-side chambers identified as corpora cavernosa, translated into “cave-like body.” This cave comprises spongy tissue and is the primary driver of erection.
Within the cavernosa are smooth arteries, veins, and muscle fibres.
The stage has been set. The players have been identified. Let’s see what happens in men’s bodies to make erections happen.
How It Happens
When an erection occurs, signals from the brain travel south to the nerve endings found in the penis. Once the message is received, the smooth muscles in the cave-like chamber begin to relax.
This relaxation allows for the arteries in the area to dilate and widen. More blood begins to flow with all that extra space in the arteries, filling the new space created.
Due to the blood flow pressure, the tissue within the chamber starts to constrict around the veins. It allows for blood to be trapped within the penis. The more blood that comes in, the more the penis enlarges and becomes stiff.
Thus, an erection takes place and is maintained.
Can Low Blood Pressure Result in Erectile Dysfunction?
Now that we understand how erections take place, we can better surmise the potential effects of blood pressure, specifically low hypotension.
On Low Pressure As a Cause
The simple answer to the question is a resounding no. Hypotension does not cause any dysfunction in the erections. It isn’t hypotension that is the potential culprit, but hypertension.
The True Culprit: Hypertension
It may seem counterintuitive for hypertension to be a cause. As stated previously, more blood flow to the penis makes it larger and stiffer.
The problem with high blood pressure is that the increased pressure damages blood vessels within the body. It includes the crucial vessels within the penis. If damaged enough, they become too narrow to let any blood in.
Additionally, this pressure also makes it so that the muscles in the penis cannot relax. It means less space is made for the blood to come rushing in.
Hypertension also brings with it several other factors that serve to complicate the erection. Apart from blood flow, hypertensive males tend to have low testosterone. This hormone plays a significant factor in arousal and subsequently an erection.
Ironically, certain medicines that help treat hypertension also contribute to the dysfunction of erections.
For instance, diuretics decrease the flow of blood to the penis. At the same time, taking this pill reduces the amount of zinc in the body, a vitamin needed to create testosterone.
Another one is beta-blockers. They weaken how bodies respond to impulses from the nerves.
How to Treat Erection Problems
Discuss Your Medications
If you think your hypertension is causing ED, you should first talk to your doctor. They can often change the dosage or type of medicine you’re taking. There are also other medications available that don’t have sexual side effects.
The important thing here is that you become honest with your physician. Be open about your concerns regarding this dysfunction and see what possible solutions you can come up with.
Meet Your Doctor
Even if you’re not currently experiencing problems with erections, it’s essential to monitor your blood pressure. It is because hypertension often has no symptoms until serious damage has been done. Regular meetings with a doctor will help ensure your blood pressure stays at a healthy level.
Check for Other Causes
Other health conditions can also cause erection problems.
Diabetes can damage blood vessels and nerves, similar to hypertension, making it difficult for signals to be sent from the brain to the penis.
This causes reduced blood flow, making erection harder to achieve.
Heart disease can also restrict blood flow to the penis. It is because the heart cannot pump as much blood when diseased. Atherosclerosis, or the hardening of arteries, is especially dangerous as it narrows the arteries and limits blood flow even further.
Thyroid problems can also lead to sexual dysfunction as this gland regulates hormones in the body. Testosterone levels can drop when it isn’t functioning correctly, leading to a loss of libido and erectile problems.
Improve Overall Health
Making lifestyle changes is essential to keeping hypertension and erection problems under control. This includes eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and activities like quitting smoking.
A recent study shows that physical activity and exercise are important in battling dysfunction. The best types of exercise are aerobic in nature, with it being done at least four times every week.
These sessions should last at least 40 minutes, and the routine should be taken for at least half a year to see any relevant changes.
There is a specific diet that can help address hypertension and, subsequently, erectile problems. It is called “DASH” or Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension.
This diet puts things like vegetables, fruits, and whole grains into the spotlight. At the same time, it also aims to take away as much salt, sugar, and fat as possible.
It can improve a person’s blood pressure in just two weeks.
Additionally, quitting smoking is a very critical factor. Like the other causes, smoking hampers the blood vessels in parts of the body, one of them being the penis.
Smoking’s effect on reproduction is so widespread that it can affect smokers as young as 20.
Make a Change For the Better
Erectile dysfunction caused by low blood pressure is a myth that we have debunked. Now, we understand that the true culprit is high blood pressure, a serious condition in its own right.
Note though that both high and low levels of blood pressure are dangerous, but in terms of sexual performance, the former is more serious.
Thankfully, hypertension is easily spotted in people. In addition, there are many ways to treat it. These include discussing your medications with your doctor, making lifestyle changes, and checking for other causes. You can enjoy a healthy and active sex life with the proper treatment.
You can make a change for the better with the right decisions.
Apart from reproductive issues, including erection problems, hypertension brings along a whole host of health problems that should also be worried about and treated.
If you or a loved one are living with hypertension, it may be in your best interest to learn about the proper first aid practices. The various problems it brings are dangerous and can often result in fatal situations.
Understanding first aid practices can help you identify the signs and symptoms these problems bring and how to administer care.
Learn all about first aid via CPR First Aid’s Liverpool course today.