The ONE organ responsible for high blood pressure.
How Hypertension Can Affect Your Fertility
Can I get pregnant if I have hypertension?
The vast majority of women with "chronic essential hypertension" (high blood pressure that's not caused by another condition such as kidney disease) have normal pregnancies and healthy babies.
Furthermore, chronic hypertension can cause poor egg quality; also, many hypertensive women suffer from obesity which is mostly a result of excessive estrogen production which can lead to infertility.
Hypertension and male fertilityHypertension is the most common chronic illness reported among men in the U.S., reported being about 30%. Hypertension can affect male fertility in several ways. A 2017 review of studies showed that men with hypertension may have erectile dysfunction and are more likely to have one or more semen abnormalities compared to men with standard blood pressure. The study showed that men with hypertension may have:
- a lower semen volume
- lower sperm mobility
- lower total sperm count
- lower mobile sperm count
- abnormal sperm structure
How does hypertension affect infertility?
Studies show that hypertension can impair sexual health in all genders.
A 2020 study showed that hypertension appears to lead to an imbalance of hormones and changes in the network of blood vessels that carry blood to the gonads. In males, this network includes the testicular vein. In females, this includes the ovarian vein.
Hypertension and female fertilityFemales with high blood pressure may have more trouble conceiving. High blood pressure may be associated with high BMI, insulin resistance, smoking, and advanced age — all of which are also associated with decreased egg quality. Egg quality is important for fertility because it can impact the quality of embryos produced, which in turn drives success rates for implantation as well as risk of miscarriage or pregnancy failure. If you have hypertension, you may also have the following symptoms:
- decreased vaginal lubrication
- reduced orgasm
- complications in pregnancy leading to fetal and maternal health challenges
- preeclampsia following pregnancy
Hypertension during pregnancyHypertension is the most prevalent medical problem during pregnancy. It involves between 6% to 8% of all pregnancies and accounts for about 25% of all pre-birth hospital admissions. Some newer studies have also found an increased risk of hypertension in women that underwent more invasive assisted-reproductive procedures. Hypertension is also associated with several significant pregnancy complications including:
- placental abruption
- preterm delivery
- several other fetal complications
Hypertension and intersex fertilityWhile studies are limited, hypertension does seem to be common in intersex individuals. A 2020 study on the physical and mental health of intersex adults in the U.S. reported that over 43% of study participants rated their physical health as fair/poor and 53% reported their mental health as fair/poor. Health diagnoses included:
How do you know if you have high blood pressure?
Blood pressure is measured using two numbers separated by a slash:
- The first number measures the pressure in your arteries when your heart is pumping. This is called systolic blood pressure.
- The second number measures the pressure in your arteries when your heart is resting. This is called diastolic blood pressure.
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Does blood pressure medication affect fertility?Although it’s difficult to investigate whether hypertension itself or the medications used to treat hypertension impair fertility, research shows that medications used to treat hypertension may affect semen. Compared to men not taking medications, men taking medication for hypertension had a statistically significant decrease in semen volume and a trend toward a lower sperm count. Men who were taking beta-blockers had a decreased volume, concentration, and mobility of sperm compared to men not taking medications. Beta-blockers are one of the most common medications prescribed for hypertension. If you’re looking to conceive and have high blood pressure, regardless of your gender or sex, make sure to talk with your doctor. Many drugs treating hypertension have the potential to impact your fertility, and your doctor will know the best way to care for you and your future family.
Can fertility drugs cause high blood pressure?Researchers are divided over whether there is a correlation between fertility treatment and hypertension in women. A 2015 study showed that there was no apparent increase in hypertension risk among infertile women or among women who had undergone fertility treatment in the past. However, a more recent 2019 study found that hypertension disorders are somewhat more common in women receiving fertility treatments. If you’re a woman or person assigned female at birth that’s taking fertility treatments, make sure to talk with your doctor about any blood pressure concerns you may have. Erectile dysfunction also has a close connection with high blood pressure, and some drugs treating hypertension are known to cause ED. However, it’s currently believed to be safe for males with hypertension to take drugs to treat ED. If you’re living with both conditions, talk with your doctor about informed ways to treat them.
Treating hypertension when you’re trying to conceive
Certain health conditions and lifestyle choices can contribute to developing hypertension. Lifestyle adjustments can help you treat your hypertension and increase your chances of conceiving. Below is a list of possible choices: Healthy diet Try to increase your intake of whole grains, high fiber foods such as fruit and vegetables, legumes such as chickpeas, beans, lentils, and low fat dairy products. Reducing your intake of saturated fats that are found in commercial baked goods and fried foods can also help you. Decrease your salt intake High sodium consumption contributes to high blood pressure. Try to limit your intake of salt to 1 teaspoon (about 2,300 mg) a day. Exercise The American Heart Association (AHA)Trusted Source recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity, aerobic exercise every week, or 75 minutes of high intensity exercise every week. Limit alcohol and don’t smoke Limiting your intake of alcohol to 1 or 2 drinks a day can help reduce hypertension. Manage stress Yoga, meditation, and mindfulness can help lower your stress levels. Research shows that mindfulness is a very effective tool that can help you cope with the stress of infertility and fertility treatments.
Undergoing fertility treatments can be overwhelming and stressful, even before you add living with hypertension as well. As just mentioned, looking after your mental health is an important part of treating both conditions. Below is a list of organizations that can help you find the mental health resource that suits your needs.
- Fertility for Colored Girls
- The Cade Foundation (Infertility Grants)
- Family Equality (LGBTQ+ Family Building Grants)
- The Mental Health Professional Group (MHPG)
- American Society for Reproductive Medicine
- RESOLVE The National Infertility Association
Hypertension is a complex condition that can affect your fertility in a variety of ways. Medications that treat hypertension can also affect your fertility. By speaking with your doctor and making lifestyle changes that suit you, you can address your hypertension and increase your chances of conceiving.