ASK DR.K: Up in Smoke

Updated: Mar 11, 2021

Dear Dr. K, How does smoking affect ED?

The use of any nicotine-containing material-cigarettes, cigars, chewing tobacco, snuff and e-cigarettes-is detrimental to your ability to have erections, as well as to your general health. Nicotine is a vasoconstrictor, restricting the bloodflow to the penis and other areas. It is a toxic chemical and highly addictive. (Nicotine and its metabolites are used as weed killers, if that gives you an idea of how toxic it is.)

The smoke from cigarettes also contains heavy metals and free radicals all of which cause damage to the lining of blood vessels, essentially depriving the penis (and other more or less important organs, depending on your point of view) of bloodflow and oxygen. Smoking accelerates the damage to your vessels caused by high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity.

A man who smokes has a 50/50 chance of developing ED. Even guys who are able to quit smoking have a 20% chance of ED. Nicotine patches/gum or e-cigarettes are “better” for you but they still deliver nicotine which closes off the bloodflow. Quitting all forms of nicotine is better for you and you may see a reverse of your symptoms within two months.

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