anonymous on September 12, 2011

How can I help my partner get excited about sex despite her high blood pressure meds?

My partner is on high blood pressure medications and now she has no sexual desire whatsoever. She’ll satisfy my needs, but it’s all one-sided. I want to enjoy sex WITH her. Do you have any advice to counteract these side effects?

answered by Mitchell Tepper, PhD, MPH on September 12, 2011

Thank you for sharing your question, and for caring about your partner’s sexual experience as well as yours. Not only can uneven levels of sexual desire cause difficulties in a relationship, but a low sex drive can also signal an issue with certain medications and/or other health problems.

First, I encourage your partner to speak with her doctor about the change in her sex drive (libido). For example, her doctor may be able to modify the dosage of her current blood pressure medication, or recommend a different treatment altogether, which may help resolve her low sex drive. Not to mention, some other medical issues – like diabetes – can also cause a lower libido. So, again, talking to a doctor is a good first step.

Her doctor may also be able to suggest other ways to lower blood pressure, including lifestyle changes…

What lifestyle factors affect high blood pressure? According to a study of 83,882 women byresearchers at Harvard Medical School, being overweight is the largest risk factor for high blood pressure (hypertension) among women. A body mass index (BMI) over 25 is considered overweight and puts you at a higher risk (you can calculate your BMIhere).

The women with the least likelihood of developing high blood pressure had a normal BMI, did about 30 minutes of vigorous exercise a day, ate a healthy (low salt) diet, drank alcohol moderately, rarely used medicines like aspirin and ibuprofen, and took at least 400 micrograms of folate each day.

If it turns out that your partner’s lifestyle could be affecting her blood pressure, talk to your doctors about working on a lifestyle-change together. Eating right and being more active might help your partner reclaim her sex drive...and it’s something you can do together.

That said, sometimes couples suffer from decreased interest in sex for other reasons…reasons that have more to do with the health of the relationship than the physical well-being of either partner. For example, if you and your partner are having a difficult time with communication and connecting emotionally, a couple’s counselor or sex therapist might be able to help get you back on track. To find a sex therapist in your area, you may want to check out theAmerican Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists.

I wish you and your partner the best of luck in reviving your sex life, and thanks again for sharing your concern with us.

Related info:

Mitchell Tepper, PhD, MPH

Dr. Tepper directs sexual health education at An AASECT-certified sexuality educator and counselor, his areas of expertise include sexual dysfunctions, sexuality following disability or illness, pleasure and orgasm, relationships, and military and veteran couples' counseling. Dr. Tepper was educated at the University of Pennsylvania and Yale University.

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