Erectile dysfunction is more common among men over the age of 40 and less common among younger men. Studies have shown, however, that in all age groups, erectile dysfunction is more common in smokers than in non-smokers. 15 percent of smokers or former smokers have suffered from erectile problems, but among younger men, smoking is one of the most common causes of impotence. Smoking and impotence are therefore closely related.

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The connection between ED and cigarettes

The consequences of erectile dysfunction may be very uncomfortable. Many men feel embarrassed and do not want to talk about their problems. This often leads to frustration and reduced self-esteem. Also, the quality of the relationship often suffers from these problems because both parties may feel guilty about their impaired sex life.

Where does the causality stem from?

In addition to nicotine, the tobacco leaf contains about 4,000 different toxins. Some of them are also found in rat poison, nail polish, batteries, and detergents. So it is not surprising that many of these substances are not very healthy for the human body and can cause many health hazards. Scientific studies have been able to demonstrate a connection between tobacco smoke and impotence. Smoke damages and narrows the arteries. Therefore, blood flow to the penis is also disturbed and the result is an erectile dysfunction.1

Nicotine has a direct effect on blood vessels transporting blood to the penis, as the blood flow to the genital area decreases achieving erection becomes more difficult. Sexual stimulus expands the blood vessels so that it swells and fills with blood. In the case of smokers, this blood flow may not be strong enough, so that erection is not achieved even if the desire to sex is there.

Does quitting smoking help?

The good news, however, is that smoking cessation has a positive impact on erections. After cessation, the blood vessels recover very fast, and the blood flow strengthens and it manages to flow into the penis as usual. The level and speed of vascular recovery depend on the age of the person and how long they have been smoking before quitting.

The impact of nicotine on sperm

One additional disadvantage of smoking is the negative effects of nicotine on sperm. When a man breathes in nicotine, it transmits directly to the sperm through the bloodstream, which then gets damaged in two ways. Firstly, the viability of the sperm is reduced, so that the chances for a woman getting pregnant are worse. Secondly, the sperm travels slower, which decreases the chances of having a child. Smoking, therefore, causes not only impotence but also infertility.

What should I do?

Studies have shown that quitting smoking is the fastest, healthiest and the most effective way to treat erectile dysfunction. Previous smokers have had harder and longer-lasting erections compared to current smokers. In one study, 75% of the smokers who had suffered from erectile dysfunction got rid of their problems after smoking cessation, so that no ED medication was needed anymore. The good news is that smoking and impotence are so closely connected so that smoking cessation is often a very effective aid to the treatment of impotence.

Moreover, your doctor can help you stop smoking. Today, there are many tools to help in that, such as NRT or other medications. Due to the adverse effects of nicotine, improvement in erectile related problems after cessation may take longer if nicotine patches are used but on the other hand, it can improve the likelihood of success in quitting.

If erectile dysfunction has lasted for a long time, it is advisable to consult a doctor in order to find out the underlying causes of the problem. If necessary, your doctor may prescribe erectile dysfunction medication such as Viagra, Cialis or Levitra.


  1. Smoking and ED – Healthline