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How high blood pressure leads to erectile dysfunction

High blood pressure stops the arteries that carry blood into the penis from dilating the way they are supposed to. It also makes the smooth muscle in the penis lose its ability to relax. As a result, not enough blood flows into the penis to make it erect.

Narrowing of the blood vessels going to the penis is commonly linked with high blood pressure (hypertension), high cholesterol and diabetes.

Men with high blood pressure may also have a low testosterone level. Testosterone is the male hormone that plays a big role in sexual arousal.

High blood pressure by itself can lead to erectile dysfunction. However, some drugs for treating high blood pressure can actually be the cause as well.

Diuretics - sometimes called water pills - and beta-blockers are the blood pressure medications most commonly linked to erectile dysfunction.

Diuretics may cause erectile dysfunction by decreasing the force of blood flow into the penis. They may also decrease the amount of zinc in the body. Your body needs zinc to make testosterone.

Beta-blockers dampen the response to nerve impulses that lead to an erection. They also make it more difficult for the arteries in the penis to widen and let in blood. What is more, they can make you feel sedated and depressed -- and the mind always plays a part in sexual arousal.

Sometimes, the choices that some men with high blood pressure make can add to the problem. Smoking, in particular, is one of those. Smoking increases blood pressure, damages blood vessels and reduces blood flow round the body.

The power to take control of your blood pressure and your sexual health is in your hands. By living a healthy lifestyle and working with your doctor, there's a very good chance you'll once again be able to have satisfactory sexual function.

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WebMD Medical Reference

Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks on April 19, 2016

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