Any amount of smoking can contribute to erectile dysfunction. Smoking tobacco products can damage the circulatory system, making it harder for blood to reach the penis and create an erection.
This article will explain the link between smoking and erectile dysfunction (ED), its symptoms, and how doctors may diagnose and treat it. It will also offer some advice on how to stop smoking.
Doctors describe ED as frequently or routinely having trouble achieving or keeping an erection that is firm enough for sex. Some people call it impotence. It affects as many as 30 million males in the United States.
When a male is sexually aroused, the body releases chemicals. These chemicals cause blood to flow into the spongy tissue in the penis.
The blood pressure keeps the penis firm, or erect, during sex. After ejaculation, the blood flows back into the male’s circulation, and the erection reduces.
Having limited blood flow to the penis interferes with this process.
Some things that may reduce blood flow to the penis include:
- health conditions that affect blood flow, such as atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries, heart disease, high blood pressure, or diabetes
- stress or emotional responses
- taking certain medications
- smoking tobacco products
Learn more about ED and its causes.
It also increases a person’s chances of developing health conditions that can cause ED. It can, for example,
- heart disease
- high blood pressure
Smokers are between
Are menthol cigarettes ok?
According to the
Menthol cigarettes carry all the same risks as conventional cigarettes. They are not a healthier option, and can still contribute to ED.
Learn more about ED and other substances.
Quitting smoking can
It can also significantly reduce a person’s chances of developing:
- multiple cancers, including cancers of the lung, throat, bladder, liver, stomach, and more
- heart disease
- chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
- type 2 diabetes
- rheumatoid arthritis
How long after quitting does erectile dysfunction improve?
Many males could see a difference in
- how long the person has smoked for
- how much they smoked regularly
- whether they have any other health conditions, such as heart disease or diabetes
However, smokers with severe ED may never regain normal erectile functioning, even after quitting. They may require medication and other treatments for ED.
The main symptom of ED is being unable to get or maintain an erection.
Of course, it is normal for this to happen from time to time. However, when it happens frequently or routinely, doctors call it ED.
- low self-esteem
- relationship problems
If someone is regularly or routinely experiencing ED, it is usually a good idea to contact a doctor. It can be a sign of undiagnosed cardiovascular disease.
ED is not the only smoking-related sexual problem in males. This section looks at how smoking can affect a male’s sex life.
Smoking negatively impacts a person’s physical fitness, including stamina levels. This can affect sexual performance.
Low sperm count
Smoking can contribute to
This can impact fertility.
To diagnose ED,
They will also ask about the symptoms and the person’s mental health.
Treatment will depend on the cause of the problem. In the first instance, the doctor will usually recommend lifestyle changes.
That might include stopping smoking, cutting down on alcohol, or eating healthily. All this can help to
Sometimes, doctors may recommend medication that increases blood flow to the penis.
Pills that can help with ED include:
In some cases, doctors may recommend alprostadil, which is an injection.
Learn more about erectile dysfunction treatments.
Quitting smoking can be difficult, but lots of help is available.
The American Lung Foundation (ALF) says people can try:
- Focusing on why they want to stop: Reasons might include improving ED symptoms and lengthening life expectancy, for example.
- Managing stress: It may help to find alternative ways to manage stress or cope with negative emotions, such as meditation, yoga, or therapy.
- Staying positive: It is important to not get discouraged by any failed attempts to quit in the past. Instead of dwelling on failure, people can think about what they have learned, and what they can do differently this time.
- Reaching out: Asking for help from friends, family, or groups such as the ALF will help a person to stay on track with their quitting goals and get the support they need.
Learn more about how to give up smoking and the benefits of quitting.
If an underlying condition is causing ED, such as high blood pressure or atherosclerosis, treating the condition with medication, diet changes, and exercise may alleviate ED.
If ED results from emotional causes, such performance anxiety, generalized anxiety disorder, or low mood, communicating openly with a partner and attending therapy may help a person overcome ED.
There are many different treatments available for ED. A person should discuss these options with a doctor.
This section looks at some frequently asked questions about smoking and erectile dysfunction.
Do smoking and drinking cause erectile dysfunction?
Researchers are not clear on the link between drinking alcohol and ED.
However, studies have suggested that males who drink a lot are more likely to experience ED than those who do not drink, or who drink moderately.
Does smoking menthol cigarettes cause erectile dysfunction?
Will quitting smoking increase testosterone?
Researchers are unclear on the link between smoking and testosterone.
Smoking may lead to raised testosterone levels, which can cause low sperm count and ED.
A review of multiple studies, published in 2016, found that males who smoked had higher testosterone levels than those who didn’t. Doctors need more studies before they can be sure.
Smoking can damage blood flow to the penis, resulting in ED.
Smoking can also contribute to health conditions that can cause ED, such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
Stopping smoking can improve the symptoms of ED. It can also help prevent a range of health conditions, including many types of cancer.
If quitting does not solve the problem, doctors may recommend medications to treat ED, such as Viagra.
In severe, unresponsive ED, doctors may recommend injectable medication or surgical implants.
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