Does High Blood Pressure Affect Fertility?
A large, new study has found that women or men with high blood pressure have lower pregnancy rates each month. Will treating high blood pressure improve your fertility?
We've known that certain health problems in both men and women can make it more difficult to get pregnant. But it looks like we may have to add one more problem to the list.
General impact of high blood pressure
High blood pressure is referred to by doctors as the silent killer. Because it usually produces no symptoms but increases the chances for heart attacks and strokes. About 7 to 8% of women who are of childbearing age have high blood pressure.
Risks of high blood pressure during pregnancy
Women who have high blood pressure before pregnancy are at increased risk for complications during pregnancies such as:
- Premature delivery
- Fetal growth restriction
- Fetal death
- Placental separation from the uterus
- Cesarean delivery
New study of high blood pressure and fertility
A new study has also concluded that high blood pressure in both women and men can make it harder to get pregnant. Here is what this study showed:
The study was conducted in China. Over 2 million women aged 20 to 49 and their male partners had their blood pressure checked. None of the couples had ever been pregnant before. Then, they looked at how long it took them to become pregnant. Here are the results:
Fertility in women with high blood pressure who are trying to conceive
Compared to women with normal blood pressure women with high blood pressure had a 21% lower chance for getting pregnant each month they tried.
Fertility in men with high blood pressure
For men with high blood pressure, their partners also had a 21% lower chance for pregnancy each month.
Fertility when both partners have high blood pressure
If both partners had high blood pressure, they experienced a 27% lower chance for pregnancy. People who are older or are obese, have a greater chance for having high blood pressure. Age and obesity also make it harder to get pregnant.
So the researchers in this study adjusted for those problems, but found that high blood pressures still predicted a lower chance for pregnancy.
How does high blood pressure be causing fertility problems?
We don't know, but here are some ideas:
High blood pressure in women could affect blood flow in the uterus which might make it less receptive to an embryo.
In Men, previous studies have shown that men diagnosed with high blood pressure have a lower semen volume, sperm motility and total sperm count. This would certainly impact their ability to produce pregnancies and their partners.
There are two big questions left unanswered from this study.
The first is the impact of medications. The study didn't look at whether men and women with high blood pressure were taking any medications to control their blood pressure. If they were, it could be the medications that were making it harder for them to become pregnant.
For example men who use a type of blood pressure medication called calcium channel blockers are known to have more trouble producing pregnancies.
As of now we don't know of any blood pressure medications that make it harder for women to get pregnant.
The second, is whether controlling blood pressure will improve the chances for conceiving. That is something that will be more difficult to figure out. However, because of the multiple other health problems that high blood pressure can cause, we would still highly recommend getting your blood pressure under control before you get pregnant.
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