Hypertension or high blood pressure is a chronic medical condition that affects millions of people worldwide but while it is commonly known that hypertension can lead to various cardiovascular complications, its impact on reproductive health is often overlooked. Medical professionals insist that it is crucial to highlight the detrimental effects of hypertension on reproductive health.
In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr Haritha Mannem, Fertility Consultant at Nova IVF Fertility in Delhi NCR’s Indirapuram, said, “Hypertension can impair both male and female fertility. In males, high blood pressure can lead to erectile dysfunction by affecting blood flow to the genital area. It can also cause a decrease in sperm count and motility, resulting in reduced fertility. In females, hypertension can disrupt the normal functioning of the reproductive system, leading to menstrual irregularities and reduced fertility. It can also increase the risk of complications during pregnancy, such as preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, and premature birth.”
Revealing that hypertension can have adverse effects on the development of the fetus, she explained, “When a pregnant woman has uncontrolled high blood pressure, it can restrict blood flow to the placenta, resulting in inadequate oxygen and nutrients reaching the developing baby. This can lead to growth restriction, low birth weight, and developmental abnormalities. Additionally, hypertension increases the risk of sexual dysfunction and decreases libido in both men and women. The chronic stress and fatigue associated with high blood pressure can significantly affect sexual desire and performance, thereby impacting overall sexual satisfaction. It is important to emphasise that managing hypertension through lifestyle modifications, such as maintaining a healthy diet, regular exercise, and stress reduction techniques, can significantly improve reproductive health outcomes. Additionally, proper medication and regular monitoring of blood pressure levels are essential in preventing and managing hypertension-related complications.”
Dr Beena Muktesh, Clinical Director- Fertility and IVF at Motherhood Fertility & IVF, highlighted, “Male and female reproductive tissue vasculature and hormone levels are both affected by hypertension. In men the detrimental effects of hypertension include erectile dysfunction, decrease in semen volume, sperm count and motility, and abnormal sperm morphology. Whereas in women, hypertension may lead to low egg quality. It is possible that the embryo will not be able to implant in the uterus if a poor quality egg is fertilised. The embryo even if successfully implanted may not develop properly which might lead to a miscarriage.”
She added, “Talking about hypertension during pregnancy, while some women may have hypertension before getting pregnant, some women develop hypertension during pregnancy which is known as Gestational hypertension, also known as preeclampsia. Around the world, 6% to 8% of pregnancies have problems related to hypertension during pregnancy, which account for roughly 25% of maternal hospital admissions. Early diagnosis and management of hypertension is crucial to reduce the risks involved to reproductive and overall health of the person, along with lifestyle changes like having a healthy diet, regular exercise and reduced intake of salt.”