Men's Health Patient Care

High Blood Pressure and Erectile Dysfunction

Doctor taking a blood pressure reading with cuff and stethoscope.

Erectile dysfunction is a very common problem that affects more than 30 million men in the United States. Men may experience erectile dysfunction at any age, although it becomes more common as you get older. Erectile dysfunction is when a person cannot get or keep an erection satisfactory for sexual intercourse.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than half of men over 40 have high blood pressure, and high blood pressure is even more prevalent in older men.

For some men, there may be a connection between high blood pressure and erectile dysfunction. Understanding this relationship could help men improve their health and find the men’s health treatment that is right for them.

What is high blood pressure?

High blood pressure (also called hypertension) is when the force of blood flowing through your blood vessels is consistently too high. This can put you at risk for cardiovascular disease. High blood pressure causes damage to arteries, causing them to narrow and harden, which can result in heart attack and stroke.

It is important to regularly monitor blood pressure. A blood pressure reading of less than 120/80 is considered normal. The American Heart Association notes that there are typically no symptoms of high blood pressure, so regular doctor visits and blood pressure readings are the best way to catch the condition before it leads to a serious problem.

Healthy vessels with normal blood flow compared with damaged vessels affected by high blood pressure.

Does high blood pressure cause erectile dysfunction?

An erection is caused by blood rushing to fill the arteries in the penis. High blood pressure can block up the arteries that usually carry blood to the penis. When not enough blood circulates to the penis, this prevents it from becoming erect.

Since the arteries in the penis are smaller than the arteries in other parts of the body, they can be some of the first to be affected by high blood pressure and other cardiovascular conditions. Some men find out they have high blood pressure only after seeing their doctor about erectile dysfunction.

This means that erectile dysfunction could be an early sign of high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease or other health problems. Washington University urologists can help patients find the cause of their erectile dysfunction and the solution that is best for them.

Can blood pressure medications cause erectile dysfunction?

Some common drugs for treating high blood pressure might cause erectile dysfunction. These medications may decrease the force of blood flow into the penis, make it more difficult for the arteries to widen and allow blood to flow, or affect the nerve impulses that usually lead to an erection.

Certain types of blood pressure medications are not safe to mix with other drugs, such as pills for erectile dysfunction. The best way to find out about side effects and interactions of these drugs is to talk to a doctor.

Even if high blood pressure medication is causing erectile dysfunction, there may be options to help. Washington University urologists offer a range of medical and minimally invasive treatments for erectile dysfunction.

Erectile Dysfunction Treatment at Washington University Urology

The men’s health specialists at Washington University Urology consider every aspect of a person’s health. Our experts start by determining the underlying cause of the problem. Once your urologist knows the root cause of erectile dysfunction, they can help you understand your options. Different types of treatment may be better for some men, depending on their health and other conditions.

If high blood pressure or another condition might be causing erectile dysfunction, Washington University urologists can also help men connect with other doctors to improve their overall health.

To learn more about men’s health and erectile dysfunction treatment, visit the Washington University Urology website.

To schedule an appointment with a Washington University urologist, please call 314-362-8200 or fill out an online appointment form.