Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Hypertension/High Blood Pressure Health Center

Font Size

Blood Pressure and Women's Sex Drive

Researchers Find High Blood Pressure May Be Linked to Sexual Dysfunction in Women

WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

May 19, 2006 -- It is well known that men with high blood pressurehigh blood pressure are at a greater risk of developing sexual dysfunction and now new research shows that the same holds for women.

The new findings were presented Friday at the 21st Annual Scientific Meeting of the American Society of Hypertension (ASH 2006) in New York City.

In the study of 417 sexually active women aged 31 to 60, women with high blood pressure were twice as likely to experience sexual dysfunction compared with their counterparts who had normal blood pressure. What’s more, advancing age and duration of high blood pressure further increased the risk of sexual dysfunction in women.

“These findings are significant because although hypertension affects more than 20% of the general population, and is a known risk factor for male sexual dysfunction, there have been no definite data on a relation between sexual dysfunction and hypertension in women,” says researcher Michael Doumas, MD, of the University of Athens in Greece. “Since female sexual dysfunction greatly affects patients and their sexual partner’s quality of life, it seems of great importance to properly recognize and manage female sexual dysfunction in hypertensive women.”

The Blood Pressure Connection

Exactly how high blood pressure and female sexual dysfunction are connected is not clear, he says. “Women are more complex than men and many things affect their sexual desire and arousal,” he says, “We do know that you need a decent blood supply to the clitoris and vagina to have an orgasm, but we are just in the beginning of this field in regard to understanding the mechanism [of female sexual dysfunction] and treatments.”

Of the 65 million Americans with high blood pressure, nearly half are women, according to statistics from the American Heart Association. A blood pressure of 140/90 mmHg or higher is considered high.

Female sexual dysfunction is defined as persistent or recurring decrease in sexual desire, persistent or recurring decrease in sexual arousal, difficulty in or inability to achieve an orgasm, and pain during sexual intercourse.

“The big surprise is that more women than men experience sexual dysfunction,” he says. In fact, 43% of women and 31% of men experience sexual dysfunction, he says. Just as in men, several chronic diseases and drugs can affect sexual function, he points out.

Women in the new study completed a standard questionnaire called the Female Sexual Function Index (FSFI), which consists of 19 questions concerning desire, arousal, lubrication, orgasm, satisfaction, and pain. Results showed that more than four out of 10 (42.1%) women with high blood pressure had female sexual dysfunction compared with fewer than two out of 10 (19.4%) women without high blood pressure.

Today on WebMD

blood pressure
Symptoms, causes, and more.
Learn the causes.
Compressed heart
5 habits to change.
Mature man floating in pool, goggles on head
Exercises that help.
heart healthy living
Erectile Dysfunction Slideshow
Bernstein Hypertension Affects Cardiac Risk
Compressed heart
Heart Disease Overview Slideshow
thumbnail for lowering choloesterol slideshow
Heart Foods Slideshow
Low Blood Pressure

WebMD Special Sections