High Blood Pressure Tied to Low Testosterone
Mon Mar 18,10:31 AM ET
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Men with untreated high blood pressure appear to have lowered levels of testosterone in their blood, which could partly explain the less-active sex lives often found in men with the condition, according to Italian researchers.
Sexual dysfunction and high blood pressure have a well-known relationship in men. For instance, men with hypertension are at increased risk of impotence, and this is often seen as a side effect of blood pressure medications.
But the extent to which drug treatment or the high blood pressure itself affects men’s sexual function is unclear, the authors of the new study explain.
So they looked at 110 men newly diagnosed with hypertension who had not yet started medication, and compared them with the same number of healthy men. The participants, all in their 40s, were asked about their sex lives and had their blood levels of testosterone measured. None had a history of sexual dysfunction.
Overall, the researchers found, the men with high blood pressure had sex with their wives less frequently–two to three times a month, compared with six times a month among men without hypertension. In addition, the hypertensive men had about 12% less circulating testosterone.
Dr. Roberto Fogari and colleagues at the University of Pavia, Italy, report the findings in the March issue of the American Journal of Hypertension.
These findings, the investigators point out, give weight to past research showing that sexual dysfunction is more common among hypertensive men, independent of treatment. They also demonstrate a relationship between high blood pressure and lowered testosterone levels–which, Fogari’s team writes, “may be partly responsible for the reduced sexual activity observed in hypertensive men.”
However, they note, it is unclear whether blood levels of testosterone influence blood pressure control, or whether high blood pressure changes hormone levels. In addition, there may be genes involved in blood pressure control that also affect testosterone production, according to the researchers.
They call for more research into the relationship of blood pressure, testosterone and sexual function, since it could provide a better understanding of how blood pressure is controlled.
SOURCE: American Journal of Hypertension 2002;15:217-221.