Cigarette smoke containing nicotine has several serious health effects on a person’s body, including erectile dysfunction (ED). Some evidence suggests that nicotine gum could also result in ED.

Nicotine gum is chewing gum that contains a small dose of nicotine. It enters a person’s blood through the lining of their mouth as they chew it. This can help people who are quitting smoking to relieve symptoms and cravings.

Nicotine gum is a Food and Drink Administration (FDA) approved treatment that can help people stop smoking. People do not need a prescription to buy nicotine gum. However, nicotine gum has different strengths and doses. People also should chew it in a different way from normal chewing gum.

ED is a condition where people have difficulty getting or keeping an erection, and healthcare professionals can often treat it. Scientists believe the nicotine in cigarette smoke may lead to ED. Although uncommon, some research indicates that the low levels of nicotine in nicotine gum could also lead to ED.

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Scientists believe exposure to cigarette smoke or nicotine can lead to ED. Although the FDA does not list ED as a side effect, some research shows nicotine gum may result in ED. Scientists believe nicotine plays an important role in ED from smoking or passive smoking.

Scientists reviewed past studies into ED and smoking in 2023. In one older study, researchers gave 28 nonsmokers nicotine gum or a placebo before watching an erotic film. The nonsmokers who used the nicotine gum showed some signs of ED. However, the reviewing scientists also noted that anti-smoking treatments can help treat ED for smokers.

Nicotine is a highly addictive chemical present in tobacco products, such as cigarettes. People may smoke cigarettes regularly due to the addictive nature of the nicotine in them. This addictiveness can make it very hard for people to stop smoking.

Smoking also causes several serious diseases and cancers. It is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States.

However, there are several treatments people can use to help quit smoking. These treatments include nicotine replacement therapy, including nicotine gum. The treatments give people nicotine without the other harmful chemicals in tobacco.

Smoking increases a person’s risk of ED. Exposure to chemicals and other substances in cigarette smoke can interfere with how a person gets an erection. These include nicotine and:

  • carbon monoxide
  • oxidants
  • metals

These substances cause damage to a person’s cardiovascular system. This includes the heart and blood vessels that circulate blood. The damage reduces how well a person’s cardiovascular system moves blood around their body and into their penis.

Nicotine can also interfere with the chemical nitric oxide (NO). NO is one of several chemicals in a person’s brain that help to control erections. Cigarette smoke and nicotine may interfere with how well NO works.

Scientists believe nicotine can impact a person’s sex drive. In 2020, researchers investigated how risk factors affected sexual functions in people with nicotine dependence. These functions included a person’s sex drive.

They studied 52 people aged 18 to 45. Of these, 32 were male and 20 were female. In this group, they found that several factors could directly impact a person’s sex drive, including how severe a nicotine dependence they had.

In 2022, scientists investigated if quitting smoking improved aspects of a person’s sexual function, including libido.

They analyzed data on several sexual functions in 6,754 males aged 50 to 75. Some of the participants had never smoked, others were former smokers, and some were current smokers.

The scientists found that former smokers had higher libido than current smokers. They concluded that stopping smoking might improve several aspects of male sexual health.

Another 2021 study found that smoking is a significant risk factor for decreased libido in older males.

Several other health conditions can cause a person to have ED, including:

Certain psychological factors may cause a person to develop ED, such as:

Other factors that may contribute to ED include:

  • excessive alcohol intake
  • some illegal drugs
  • having obesity or being overweight
  • not being physically active

ED can also be a side effect of several common medications. Aging does not cause ED, although a person is more likely to develop ED as they age.

Healthcare professionals can treat the underlying causes of a person’s ED using:

  • lifestyle changes, such as:
    • quitting smoking
    • stopping or drinking less alcohol
    • maintaining a medically recommended weight
    • staying physically active
    • stopping illegal drug use
  • counselling
  • medication to help get or keep an erection
  • surgery, or implantable devices to get or keep an erection

Healthcare professionals can also treat conditions or change medications that may be causing ED. People should never stop or change medication without seeking professional medical advice first.

Smoking has several health effects, including ED. Scientists believe that nicotine plays a part in causing ED. Some studies have found that the nicotine in nicotine gum may also have some ED effects.

However, there is limited research investigating this and whether ED can occur due to the nicotine in nicotine gum or from prior exposure while smoking.

Nicotine and smoking may also have an impact on a person’s sex drive. However, quitting smoking can often help to treat these effects and a person’s ED — and nicotine gum may help a person to do so. Healthcare professionals can often treat the underlying causes of a person’s ED.