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Smoking and Erectile Dysfunction: What Is the Connection?

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Everyone knows that smoking is bad for your lung health (among many other organs), but a lesser-known casualty of lighting one up on the regular may also be your erection.

Below, we will cover just how much smoking can increase your relative risk of ED, just how smoking causes erectile changes, how smoking can reduce your fertility, review if the smoking amount matters, and address if stopping can aid in erectile dysfunction recovery.

Can smoking increase your risk of developing ED?

A few studies have looked into just how much smoking may influence your risk of developing erectile dysfunction. Of course, it is known that ED becomes more likely as you get older. But, it turns out that adding smoking on top of that can make erectile problems even more likely.

Multiple studies on the subject present a range of increased risk of having or developing ED over non-smokers with an odds ratio of between 1.4 to 3.1. This means that smokers may be between 1.4 to 3.1 times more likely to have or develop ED as compared to those that abstained from nicotine. And, since erectile dysfunction is already a very common occurrence with increasing age, multiplying that a few times over can be pretty significant.

How does smoking lead to erectile changes?

The connection between how smoking can cause negative erectile effects may not be as clear for some people. But, once you learn what effects smoking has on your blood vessels, and what is needed for healthy erections, it makes perfect sense.

Below, are just a few of the mechanisms behind how smoking can exacerbate or induce erectile dysfunction.:

  1. Vascular damage - Smoking can damage the small arteries in the genital region, making it more difficult to get adequate blood flow to the area to produce and maintain an erection.
  2. Vascular constriction - In addition to the potential for damage to the vessels, nicotine has the immediate effect of constricting vessels. This can also impede proper blood flow to erectile tissues.
  3. Neuronal nitric oxide (NO) activity is reduced - Nitric oxide works as a main chemical signal to induce muscle relaxation and increased blood flow via vasodilation for an erection to happen. Smoking has been found to reduce nitric oxide signaling in neurons.
  4. Metabolites in smoke can further reduce nitric oxide - In addition to directly reducing the NO signaling, the metabolites in cigarette smoke have been found to also reduce free levels of NO in the penile tissues.
  5. Smoking induces arterial stiffness - Smoking alters the elastin component of arteries, making them more resistant to dilation for good circulation. This can eventually lead to calcification of arteries.

Nicotine effects on fertility and arousal

In addition to causing trouble with romance, smoking may also make it more difficult to conceive a child for both men and women.

Smoking can directly damage the genetic material inside eggs and sperm. This makes male and female smokers twice as likely to experience infertility as compared to non-smokers. In women, this may also translate to more difficulty in IVF therapy as compared to non-smokers, with more medications required, fewer eggs retrieved, and 30% lower IVF pregnancy rates.

So, even if your smoking has yet to present problems in the bedroom, you may consider the toll it could take on your future family planning.

Another interesting study looked into the effects of using nicotine and female arousal. The researchers had 25 non-smoking women with normal sexual functionality either chew nicotine gum or a placebo gum and then measured physiologic arousal while watching erotic films. The study found that even in non-smokers, chewing nicotine gum lead to a 30% reduction in the physical arousal assessment. 

A similar study in non-smoking men found a 23% reduction in physiological sexual arousal when chewing nicotine gum.

These studies suggest that while nicotine replacement can play an important role on the road to reducing or stopping smoking, there may still be sexual effects from the continued use of nicotine in these replacement sources. Ideally, these replacements should be used as needed to help quit, but would then be phased out completely to help with sexual health improvements.

The ED and smoking connection is dose-dependent

There is also a connection between how many cigarettes are smoked per day and the risk of erectile dysfunction, with more being worse. 

Studies show that men who smoke greater than 10 cigarettes per day had an even higher odds ratio of erectile dysfunction than men who still smoked, but kept it under 10 cigarettes per day. 

Can your erectile dysfunction improve if you quit smoking?

Luckily, there is a good possibility of your erectile dysfunction improving if you stop smoking.

One study showed that in men who stopped smoking, greater than 25% of the ex-smokers had improved ED status after just 1 year. This is compared to 0% of the men who continued smoking in this study. Also, 6.8% of the men who continued smoking had worsening ED after 1 year as compared to only 2.5% of the men who quit smoking.

However, it is important to note that the researchers found that older age and worse ED severity before stopping smoking made improvements less likely. So, if you are hoping to achieve erectile improvement by quitting cigarettes, doing so at an earlier age or before ED symptoms worsen may help you achieve a better recovery.

Strut Health erectile dysfunction medications prescribed online

Ditching the nicotine is a great way to help improve your overall health as well as potentially reducing your erectile dysfunction symptoms.

But, some men may also need additional help in the form of erectile dysfunction medications. 

PDE-5 inhibitors like sildenafil (generic Viagra) and tadalafil (generic Cialis) are the most commonly prescribed medications for ED, and they work for the majority of men to help achieve and maintain erections when used before intimacy.

If you are interested in seeing if a prescription ED medication is a good fit for you, you can have a free online questionnaire-based telemedicine consultation with our U.S. licensed doctors in under 15 minutes. If you are a good candidate for treatment, your medication can be shipped to your front door with our free shipping.

If you have any questions during your treatment, our team and doctors are available for free, unlimited follow-ups.

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