Men with high blood
pressure may also encounter troubles in the bedroom, but the problem may
not be with blood flow alone. New research suggests plummeting levels of
the male hormone testosterone could partly be to blame.
raises the overall issue of how sexual [problems] can be affected by
common medical conditions," says Michael A. Weber, MD. Weber is chairman
of the department of medicine at The Brookdale University Hospital and
Medical Center and is a professor of medicine and associate dean of the
State University of New York, Health Science Center in Brooklyn.
The study shows
middle-aged men with high blood pressure have sexual intercourse 25%
less frequently each month and experience a 12% drop in testosterone
levels compared with healthy men.
sexual problems are common in men with high blood pressure, but it
hasn't been clear whether the problems are caused by the hypertension
itself or the medications used to treat the condition. But previous
studies have suggested that sexual problems are much more common among
published in the March issue of American Journal of Hypertension,
looked at 110 middle-aged married men who had recently been diagnosed
with high blood pressure, but had never been treated with medication,
and 110 healthy men.
Even though none of
the hypertensive men had ever been treated with anti-high blood pressure
medications, the study found they experienced a 25% drop in frequency of
sexual activity. Researchers say that means something about the
hypertension itself must be at work in creating sexual problems.
were also much lower among the men with high blood pressure compared
with the healthy men. Although the exact mechanism between low
testosterone and hypertension is not known, researchers say this
relationship "may be partly responsible for the reduced sexual
activity observed in hypertensive men."
More than 50 million
Americans suffer from hypertension, which puts extra stress on the heart
and arteries and can lead to heart attack or stroke.
Experts say the
study raises the general issue of how sexual dysfunction can be linked
to common medical conditions, such as high blood pressure, and recommend
that patients talk to their doctors about these issues.