Don’t dwell on the negatives, healthy sexual activity can lower blood pressure.
There is a significant body of research around the topic of sex and high blood pressure and a large part of it focuses on the negative aspects. However, there are two sides to every coin.
The negative associations are that and high blood pressure and anti-hypertension medications cause atherosclerosis making it difficult for some men to achieve and maintain erections, interfere with ejaculation, and reduce sexual desire. For women, high blood pressure may cause reduced sexual desire or arousal, vaginal dryness, or difficulty achieving orgasm.
On the other hand, studies have shown that that diastolic blood pressure tends to be lower in people who live together and have sex often. Another study showed that women and men who had engaged in sexual activity before being subjected to a stressful situation like public speaking or doing math out loud, had better blood pressure readings than those who hadn’t had sex.
There are several articles written on the fact that hypertensives experience elevated blood pressure during or after sex, but this is typically brief. As long as blood pressure is controlled and a person does not have debilitating heart disease, there is no reason not to have sex.
Given the strong association between sex, stress relief and lower blood pressure, the flipside is that illicit sex can lead to anxiety or fear and hence potentially dangerous high blood pressure as the heart works harder. In a normal situation, however, sex helps release stress, which is a contributor to high blood pressure.
Sex also improves heart health. A 20-year-long British study showed that men who had sex two or more times a week were half as likely to have a fatal heart attack than men who had sex less than once a month. Moreover, despite fears in older people, the study found no link between how often men had sex and how likely they were to have a stroke.
According to WebMD, sex also burns calories, which is good for hypertensives who know they need to exercise. Thirty minutes of sex burns 85 calories or more. Forty-two half-hour sessions will burn 3,570 calories, more than enough to lose a pound, and so on.
Another benefit is that the oxytocin released during orgasm helps sleep and the body needs to rest in order to function normally. Research shows that people with chronic sleep disruption or who suffer from exhaustion during the day are more at risk of developing hypertension.
Engaging in safe, regular sexual activity is not only beneficial for the young and fit and older people should not think it’s too strenuous for them. Megan O’Brien, of the Center for Human Sexuality Studies, Widener University, says that as we age, “some of us may notice a decrease in libido – but not everyone – and some of us may even experience an increase. These changes often contribute to a misguided notion that we are not expected to maintain a healthy and active sex life as we grow older. While many of us may notice changes in our sex lives after 60 – tamer positions, a slower pace, etc. – these changes should not give us pause because the benefits of sex only increase as we get older.”