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What is the link between smoking and impotence or erectile dysfunction?

Madeleine M. Castellanos, MD
Psychiatry
Nicotine is a very strong vasoconstrictor, which means that it causes arteries to tighten and prevents blood flow to the arteries of the penis. Studies show that men who smoke are more likely to develop erectile dysfunction (ED) than nonsmokers. Smoking also increases the risk of heart disease (a risk factor for ED).
Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
Male smokers may be at risk for impotence, which is the inability to either achieve or maintain an erect penis. While the juries still out, some studies have found a link between these two issues.

Nicotine lowers blood flow to the penis, which makes it harder to get an erection. Think of penile blood flow as water shooting out of a garden hose. Then nicotine ambles over in a garish Hawaiian shirt and absently stands on the hose, causing it to go limp.

Over time, damage done to the blood vessels by smoking can affect a man's ability to achieve or sustain an erection. In other words, although it's not 100% clear that smoking will cause impotence, the evidence out there suggests a link. By not smoking, you are probably lowering your chance of having erection problems. To my mind, that sounds like reason enough to put down the cigarettes.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.