Smoking, Vaping, Tobacco, and ED

Written by Lindsey Mcilvena, MD, MPH

What's the link between tobacco use and erectile dysfunction?

If I had one wish... to eliminate a single habit from peoples' lifestyles, it’d be smoking (or vaping, or any other type of tobacco use). Even as an eternal optimist, I have yet to discover anything redeeming about it. Smoking is simply not healthy and has such a devastating financial, psychological and physical impact. If it is a healthy sex life that you seek, then steer clear of smoking altogether.

First, the bad news

In general, smoking negatively impacts the circulation of blood, leading to conditions like heart disease, heart attacks and strokes. Regular smoking damages blood vessels and reduces blood flow throughout the body. Nicotine is the chief culprit because of its vasoconstrictive effects (it causes the blood vessels to constrict or narrow and reduces blood flow).

If you smoke and you are experiencing problems in your sex life, there is likely a link. Medical literature and studies link tobacco use and erectile dysfunction (ED) primarily because of the effects smoking has on your overall cardiovascular health. An occasional cigarette or cigar is unlikely to cause erectile dysfunction, but regular smoking can have a very real impact.

For men under the age of 40, smoking is the chief cause of erectile dysfunction. Maintaining an erection requires a healthy blood supply, and as mentioned above nicotine causes your blood vessels to contract (which causes the penis to shrink). The longer you've been a smoker, the more difficult it is to treat or reverse erectile dysfunction.

Since erections depend on this mix of brain signaling and increased blood flow to the penis, anything that affects that reliable blood flow can contribute to ED. The reduced blood flow from smoking will leave you with a weak erection or no physical response to sexual arousal .

Medical literature and studies show that men who smoke have a higher risk of developing ED than non-smokers, regardless of age. In addition to ED, smoking also causes sperm damage and fertility issues, making it one of the least sexually healthy practices out there.

And now, the good!

The good news, is quitting smoking can reduce or sometimes eliminate ED symptoms altogether. If you don’t smoke, don’t start. If you do smoke, seek help in quitting-- it will undoubtedly lead to a healthier overall life and especially a healthier sex life.

The views expressed in this article intend to highlight alternative studies and induce conversation. They are the views of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of HeyDoctor, and are for informational purposes only, even if and to the extent that this article features the advice of physicians and medical practitioners. This article is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice.

Check out the HeyDoctor app

With over 1,000 5-star reviews, we're one of the highest rated medical apps. See for yourself!