Smokers Beware: Smoking Can Cause Erectile Dysfunction
Posted: November 23, 2022
We all know that smoking is bad for your health. There have been numerous public service announcements and campaigns to raise awareness about the dangers of smoking. However, one consequence that hasn’t been talked about very much is the risk for erectile dysfunction.
Smoking and tobacco use can actually cause erectile dysfunction (ED). Therefore, smoking isn’t just bad for you, it’s bad for your sex life. The good news is that the sooner you quit, the better, as your erectile function can improve after quitting smoking. Let’s talk about smoking, erectile dysfunction, and how quitting can keep your sex life strong.
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Smoking Increases Your Risk for Erectile Dysfunction Two-Fold
Men who smoke are two times more likely to develop erectile dysfunction than non-smokers. While the rate of smoking has decreased over the years, it’s still a serious problem for men most at risk for ED. Some estimate that 20% of middle aged men in America smoke cigarettes. With age, your risk for ED also increases. For instance, while 20% of all men have ED, 52% of men between 40 and 70 years old suffer from erectile dysfunction. Therefore, if you’re a smoker over 40, you have several risk factors for ED.
The amount you smoke may also play a role in your risk for erectile dysfunction. Studies have found that heavy smokers are more likely to develop severe ED compared to occasional smokers. Additionally, the longer you smoke, the higher your risk for erectile dysfunction. Therefore, the cumulative effects of smoking on your body may also affect ED severity.
Erectile dysfunction can cause serious issues for your everyday life. Not only can it negatively impact your sex life, but it may also affect your self-esteem, mood, and relationships. Many men with ED suffer from low self-image and depression due to sexual dysfunction.
What is Erectile Dysfunction?
Erectile dysfunction is a health condition where you have trouble getting or maintaining an erection firm enough for sex. This can occur for many different reasons, as erections are a pretty complex process involving many different systems.
For an erection, you need to be sexually stimulated mentally and become aroused, which allows your brain to flood your body with hormones necessary for an erection. Then, the arteries to your penis relax and expand to allow more blood to flow into the penis. Continued mental and physical stimulation help your body maintain your erection until orgasm.
An issue with any one of these processes can affect your ability to achieve or maintain an erection. However, physical issues that restrict blood flow are some of the most common causes of ED.
Why Does Smoking Affect Your Risk for ED?
Decades of studies show that smoking increases your risk for erectile dysfunction. However, you might be wondering why. Smoking causes stress on the cardiovascular system and can decrease libido, both of which can lead to erectile dysfunction. These issues are the result of nicotine and other chemicals in cigarettes entering your body.
Smoking Puts Stress On Your Cardiovascular System
One reason smoking is associated with erectile dysfunction is due to the damage it does to your cardiovascular system. The chemicals in cigarettes put a lot of stress on your heart and circulatory system. Nicotine itself increases adrenaline levels, which in turn increases heart rate, breathing, and blood pressure. Over time, this increased stress can make your heart less effective at pumping blood and can narrow the veins and arteries in your circulatory system. These effects happen throughout the body, including to the penis. Therefore, smoking makes it difficult for your body to supply enough blood to your penis for an erection and also makes it hard for the arteries necessary for erections to relax fully. This can lead to ED.
Smoking Can Lower Your Libido
Smoking can also affect your libido. The chemicals in cigarettes can actually lower your testosterone levels, which can lead to a significantly lower sex drive. While low libido is different from erectile dysfunction, it does share some of the same symptoms. If you’re not as interested in sex, it can be difficult to become aroused enough or stay aroused enough for a healthy erection. Therefore, this is another way that tobacco use can negatively affect your sex life.
Vaping is Also Linked to a Higher Risk for Erectile Dysfunction
We’ve talked a lot about smoking, but what about vaping? Vaping is another term for e-cigarette use, which is a method for vaporizing liquid nicotine as an alternative to cigarette smoking. It’s often touted as a “safer” and “healthier” form of smoking, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t come with health risks. While some use vaping as a method for smoking cessation, there are an increasing number of people who vape but who never smoked and have become addicted to nicotine. The problem is, vaping can also cause erectile dysfunction, even at similar rates to smoking.
While vaping is a relatively new technology, it has been around in some form for the last decade or two. Since that time, a lot of research has been conducted on the effects of vaping. Emerging research shows that vaping can increase your risk of developing erectile dysfunction. Men who vape are about two times as likely to suffer from ED than those who don’t.
Nicotine in E-Cigarettes Can Lead to ED
Even though vaping supposedly releases fewer chemicals into your body than cigarettes, it does still provide your body with nicotine. Nicotine by itself is a huge factor for why you might develop ED as a smoker or vaper. As we mentioned earlier, nicotine can trigger your body to release adrenaline, which puts your cardiovascular system into a constant state of overwork. Eventually, this leads to poor circulation, including to your penis. E-cigarettes often contain high concentrations of nicotine, sometimes even higher than cigarettes, which may lead to erectile dysfunction.
The Good News: Quitting Smoking or Vaping Can Improve Erectile Dysfunction
Now we’ve established why smoking and vaping can cause erectile dysfunction, let’s talk about erectile dysfunction treatment as a smoker. The great news is that many of the effects of smoking are reversible once you quit, including a lot of the damage that causes ED. Immediate benefits of quitting smoking include improvements in blood pressure and heart attack risk. Within two to twelve weeks, your circulation also improves after quitting smoking, which can also improve your erectile function. Therefore, quitting smoking can improve your sex life.
Here are some tips to help you quit smoking:
- Choose a date for quitting and prepare for it
- Throw out cigarettes, lighters, and ash trays in your home, car, and office
- Ask your friends, family, and coworkers for support
- Remind yourself of the benefits every time you want to smoke, including improvements in your erectile dysfunction
- If you’re a heavy smoker, ask your healthcare provider about smoking cessation medications, both over the counter and prescription, to see if they’re right for you
You May Need Both Lifestyle Changes and Medicine for Erectile Dysfunction Treatment
While quitting smoking is a great way to improve your health and ED, some of the damage done to your body after years of smoking may not be completely reversible. If your ED doesn’t disappear after you quit smoking, don’t get discouraged. Maintain your smoke-free lifestyle for your health and get in touch with our team to discuss erectile dysfunction treatment options. There are many options available for ED so you can enjoy a better sex life.
Low T Center – Your Men’s Health Clinic for ED Solutions
Our team at Low T Center is here to provide quality health care for men. Whether you’re suffering from erectile dysfunction or simply want to know how you can improve your health over time, our men’s health clinic is a great source for diagnosis, treatment, and treatment optimization. We take care of everything under one roof through our team of experienced professionals. Get in touch now to make an appointment at a location near you!
Disclaimer: This article is made available for general, entertainment and educational purposes only. The opinions expressed herein do not necessarily reflect those of Low T Center. You should always seek the advice of a licensed healthcare professional.