Hypertension, the medical term for high blood pressure (HBP), and lack of sexual satisfaction have the potential to go hand in hand. You must get your blood pressure under control to prevent a low libido and other health threats such as a heart attack. Take a look at this graph to gain a better understanding of blood pressure measurements and whether or not you’re at risk of HBP.
What is high blood pressure?
An individual is usually diagnosed with high blood pressure when the force of blood pushing against the blood vessels is continuously more elevated than usual. HBP is known as the ‘silent killer’ because it doesn’t present with noticeable signs and symptoms that are indicative of a health issue.
The consequences of untreated high blood pressure, according to the American Heart Association, include
- Loss of vision
- Heart attack
- Heart failure
- Kidney disease/failure
- Sexual dysfunction
The link between high blood pressure and sex drive
According to an article published by the Mayo Clinic, ‘high blood pressure can reduce blood flow to the vagina. For women, this leads to a decrease in sexual desire or arousal, vaginal dryness, or difficulty achieving orgasm.’
Sexual arousal in women (and men) is dependent on regular blood flow through arteries to the genitals. High blood pressure increases the workload of the tissues in the arteries and, over time, the constant friction tears the tissue in the artery walls; LDL cholesterol (the bad type of cholesterol) forms plaque along the tears, in turn, causing narrowing of the blood vessels.
Now, the blood requires more force to move through the smaller space, creating a vicious cycle that further harms your body. Simply put, a decrease in blood flow to the genitals equals a decline in sex drive.
Treatment for high blood pressure
High blood pressure can be treated without medication by making specific lifestyle changes that are targeted at lowering blood pressure. Through these adjustments, you can avoid or lessen the chances of needing medication later in life to treat HBP. Here are five effective lifestyle changes you can include to lower your blood pressure.
- Regular exercise: Cardiovascular (aerobic) exercises such as walking, jogging, cycling and swimming are ideal for lowering blood pressure.
- Eat healthily: A diet that contains whole grains, fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy products and is low in saturated fat can help lower your blood pressure significantly. If you’re not sure where to start, consult a dietitian.
- Lose extra kilos: Blood pressure usually rises as weight increases. Regular exercise and a healthy diet contribute to weight loss, and it’s considered one of the most effective ways to lower blood pressure.
- Quit smoking: Blood pressure increases minutes after smoking a cigarette. By ditching the butts, you’re saving yourself from HBP and heart disease.
- Limit your alcohol intake: A moderate intake of alcohol is generally considered to be one drink per day for women or two per day for men and shouldn’t affect blood pressure. However, exceeding this amount can raise blood pressure.
By implementing these changes, you’ll lower your blood pressure and subsequently maintain a healthy sex drive.
How Marie Stopes will help you
Marie Stopes is dedicated to caring for women’s sexual and reproductive health. We offer a Women’s Wellness package in which your blood pressure will be tested. If it’s higher than normal, our medical professionals will recommend treatment that suits you best.
We also believe in a ‘my body, my choice’ philosophy and therefore also offer safe abortion services should you wish to terminate an unintended pregnancy.
For more information about high blood pressure and our services, please schedule an appointment at your nearest centre.