anonymous on August 26, 2011

Now that my partner takes high blood pressure meds, he can’t get an erection. What can we do about it?

My sweetie takes a medication for high blood pressure. Now he can’t get an erection or feel desire. If he is able to get an erection, it only lasts 10 minutes. It's very frustrating for me…I wear sexy lingerie and try other things, but it doesn’t help. Is anything we can do?

answered by David Sobel, MD, JD on August 26, 2011

Thanks for coming to us on a very important topic.

First, it’s great that your partner’s high blood pressure (or hypertension) is being treated…that’s key to his overall health, including his sexual health.

Even though hypertension is a “silent” health condition – meaning that most people don’t experience any obvious symptoms or discomfort – it can do a lot of damage if it’s left untreated. Why? Because high blood pressure destroys the lining of blood vessels and, over time, they can become hard and narrow which can decrease blood flow. And since good blood flow is needed for men to have erections, untreated high blood pressure can lead to problems getting or keeping erections and cause a lower libido (less desire for sex).

So one way to improve erectile dysfunction (ED) is to treat high blood pressure. While some medications (like angiotensin receptor blockers, or ARBs) can help with erection problems, others – like diuretics (water pills) or beta blockers – may contribute to ED. But no matter what medication your partner is taking now, it’s important that he not stop taking it without first consulting his doctor.

If it turns out that your partner’s hypertension medication is truly the cause of his ED and decreased sex drive, it’s possible that his doctor may prescribe a different medication to treat his high blood pressure without causing erection problems. And if switching medications doesn’t do the trick, his doctor might prescribe a medication for ED, like Viagra, Levitra or Cialis.

Lifestyle changes can help, too. Regardless of whether a different blood pressure med improves your partner’s ED, there are some lifestyle changes that can help keep his hypertension in check, as well as help improve his erection problems. Regular exercise, losing weight (if he’s overweight) and watching his dietary salt intake can help lower blood pressure naturally…in fact, some people show so much improvement that they can go off their blood pressure medication.

I hope this information is helpful to you and your partner, and that soon resume a satisfying sex life.

David Sobel, MD, JD

Dr. Sobel is a Colorado-based urologist and Director of the Denver Center for Men’s Health. His areas of expertise include men's sexual health and all areas of urology, including urologic oncology, treatment of benign prostatic hypertrophy, stone disease and incontinence. Dr. Sobel was educated at the University of Michigan Law School and the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine, and completed his residency at the Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, IL.

Related Q&A's

Why do condoms give me erectile dysfunction?
Does my husband’s habit of masturbating to porn affect his ability to stay hard during sex?
To help my depression, I smoked pot…I stopped smoking, but I still can’t get it up. What gives?