Nicotine and erectile dysfunction: facts, advice, quitting smoking


Nicotine, whether smoked or vaped, has a vasoconstrictor effect on the body, which means that it narrows and constricts blood vessels and reduces the amount of blood that can pass through them. Since an erection depends on a lot of blood flow, smoking can potentially lead to erectile dysfunction (ED).

This article will explain how smoking works against a healthy erection and offer tips to improve your overall and sexual health.

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Can Nicotine Cause Erectile Dysfunction?

Nicotine is a highly addictive stimulant naturally present in tobacco. It is the substance that produces euphoria and pleasure when inhaled as a vapor or smoke, but it is also what makes smoking or vaping so addicting.

In addition to the many cardiovascular, respiratory, and even neurological problems that smoking and vaping tobacco products can cause, it can also be associated with erectile dysfunction. It is believed that smoking causes problems with the lining of the blood vessels in the penis itself.

This problem, called endothelial dysfunction, can be caused by a reduction in nitric oxide and imbalances in the body that lead to oxidative stress.

Endothelial cells are responsible for the contraction and relaxation of blood vessels. To achieve an erection, the vessels that supply the spongy tissues and smooth muscles of the penis must open and allow blood to flow. This blood is then trapped in the tissues of the penis.

Nitric acid causes the muscles of the penis to relax and allow blood to flow, and it also helps create a seal that maintains an erection.

It depends on the dose

The effects of a number of substances are “dose-dependent”, which means that the greater the amount consumed, the greater the effect. Nicotine is no exception. Research shows that smoking and vaping health problems, including heart disease and erectile dysfunction, are worse in heavy smokers. The amount of smoke you smoke can affect the degree of problem you have with any smoking-related condition.


A common source of preventable deaths, smoking is linked to nearly half a million deaths each year in the United States alone. This fallout results from a combination of the health impact of smoking and nicotine alone, as well as the effects of the thousands of other chemicals that can be found in a single cigarette.


Vaping is the second most common way to consume nicotine. One study found that nearly 2.3% of tobacco users in the United States choose this method.

The same study found that 23.1% of e-cigarette users said they never smoke, and most were under 35. The young age of many users is of concern as nicotine is highly addictive and can negatively affect brain development, which continues until the age of 25.

Vaping involves using an electronic cigarette that vaporizes liquid nicotine and inhaling this vapor. While many believed vaping to be a safer method of absorbing nicotine, recent studies have shown many significant risks.


Cigars may have a reputation for being the most stylish and safe version of cigarettes, but the opposite is actually true. Cigars are larger, unfiltered, nicotine-rich versions of cigarettes that nearly 4% of American smokers use.

How Does Smoking Affect Sex?

Smoking can have a negative impact on erections and overall sexual health, but for some it is also a stimulant. Capnolagnia is a term used to describe people who become sexually aroused by watching others smoke.

The impact of mental health

Getting help for erectile dysfunction can be a challenge. There are a number of mental health issues that can cause or accompany erectile dysfunction.

One in four adults in the United States has some sort of behavioral health problem, and these people consume about 40% of the total cigarettes smoked in the country. The psychotropic properties of cigarettes can also worsen existing mental disorders.

In addition to the adverse mental health effects that cigarettes can have, men who develop erectile dysfunction as a result of smoking may struggle with emotions such as:

These feelings are normal and are the main reason erectile dysfunction is underestimated. While smoking can be used as a way to cope with stressful situations, stress and smoking can also contribute to erectile dysfunction.

If you smoke to manage stress or think smoking is contributing to your erectile dysfunction, remember that smoking is a difficult addiction to overcome and there is help.

Additional causes of erectile dysfunction

Besides smoking, other causes of erection problems include:

  • Diabetes
  • Arterial hypertension
  • High cholesterol
  • Obesity
  • Certain drugs

You can get erectile dysfunction from any or a combination of these conditions and medications, but your doctor can help. A number of treatments can improve conditions and potentially provide relief from erectile dysfunction.

There are also specific treatments for erectile dysfunction such as:

  • Oral PDE5 inhibitors, including Viagra (sildenafil) and Cialis (tadalafil)
  • Penile injections, which are medicines used to help you get an erection
  • Vacuum devices, which suck blood into the shaft of the penis and cause an erection
  • Surgical implants, which are inflatable implants surgically inserted into the penis

If you want to try natural erectile dysfunction relief before trying medication, lifestyle changes like losing weight, exercising, and improving your cardiovascular health can help. Improving circulation and blood flow is the key to a healthy erection. Stopping smoking will also help. Researchers found that erectile dysfunction improved dramatically within six months to a year after quitting.

How to maintain an erection

There are a lot of things you can try to improve your sexual performance and the quality of your erection. The first step is to stop worrying about it. It might be easier said than done, but stress is a major contributor to erection problems.

If you’re having trouble getting or maintaining an erection, consider talking with your partner or a therapist, engaging in a relaxing activity beforehand, or using other stress management techniques.

Other things that can help strengthen your erection include:

  • Avoid fatty and fried foods
  • Reduce your waistline
  • Exercise regularly
  • Focus on improving pelvic floor strength
  • Reduce stress
  • Involve your partner
  • Avoid alcohol and other drugs
  • Stop smoking

Erectile Dysfunction Physician Discussion Guide

Tips for quitting smoking

Quitting smoking is not easy. Cold turkey doesn’t work for many people, but there are a number of new programs and products designed to help you kick the habit for good.

Talk to your health care provider about medications like Chantix and nicotine replacement therapy. You can also find help through groups and apps or digital tools that can help you quit smoking.

Here are some other things that can help you quit smoking:

  • Know your triggers
  • Use all available tools
  • Celebrate your milestones
  • Ask for help
  • Change your routine and habits
  • Finding ways to overcome food cravings

The cravings to smoke can be one of the most difficult parts of quitting smoking. Some people find relief in activities that keep their hands and mouth occupied, such as tools, gum, and candy.


Smoking can narrow blood vessels and restrict blood flow, which is an integral part of getting and maintaining an erection. Some research suggests that this may be related to a reduction in nitric oxide, which helps blood flow to the penis and keeps it there while maintaining an erection. A number of conditions can also lead to erectile dysfunction, such as diabetes and high blood pressure. To help you quit smoking, you can seek the help of your doctor, who can help you find the best nicotine replacement therapy and other strategies to quit smoking.

A word from Verywell

Nicotine is a highly addictive drug, but quitting smoking can have a major impact on your overall health. If you have erectile dysfunction or other sexual health issues and you smoke, finding a way to quit and stick with it may be your best bet to lower the risk of permanent damage to your sexual health and performance. . There are many tools available to help you quit smoking.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does erectile dysfunction go away after quitting smoking?

There can be a number of contributors to erectile dysfunction, and it can be a lifelong condition. However, a number of studies have shown that quitting smoking can improve erectile dysfunction symptoms for many.

How does nicotine affect testosterone?

Nicotine can disrupt hormonal regulation, especially in the pituitary gland, causing testosterone levels to drop.

How to reverse erectile dysfunction naturally?

Healthy eating and exercise can go a long way in improving cardiovascular health and circulation, which in turn can improve the quality of your erection.

What are the other causes of erectile dysfunction?

A number of health problems that reduce circulation and the functioning of the nervous system can contribute to erectile dysfunction. These include high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes.


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