Effect of Healthy Lifestyle Choices on Erectile Dysfunction: Can Smoking Cigarettes Cause Impotence?

It is a well known fact that smoking causes damage to the human body in various ways. A less well known fact is that effect that smoking can have on erectile dysfunction. It’s important that you discuss your smoking habits with your doctor as part of a comprehensive examination of ED. What follows is a summation of smoking’s effects on the cardiovascular system, as well as fertility and erections in general.

A man coughing infront of his laptop because of smoking

Smoking and the Cardiovascular System 

The impact of smoking on health cannot be underestimated, as demonstrated by Cardiovascular Disease (CVD), which is the second-largest killer in Australia after cancer Smoking, along with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, a sedentary lifestyle, overweight size or obesity, poor nutrition, diabetes, and drinking alcohol to dangerous levels are some of the preventable factors that contribute to CVD. Smoking triples your risk of CVD, with 15% of CVD deaths being due to smoking. This risk increases between the ages of 45 to 54, with approximately 38% mortality for men. Smokers over 60 experience a decreased lifespan of five years. Although smokers who smoke more than 25 or more cigarettes a day increase their risk for CVD fivefold, even a few cigarettes a day doubles the risk.

Smoking and Fertility 

Does smoking affect your fertility? The answer is yes: smoking can negatively affect male fertility in many ways and make it difficult for men and women to conceive a child together. Even second-hand smoke has been found to be almost as damaging as direct smoking. The chemicals found in cigarettes damage sperm DNA and male hormone production, which can impact fertility, as well as the health of a future child.

In total, smokers experience infertility at greater rates than non-smokers. Furthermore, men who smoke experience erectile dysfunction, perhaps as a direct consequence of CVD. As sperm takes three months to mature, quitting smoking three months before trying to conceive can increase the chance for a healthy baby.

Smoking and Erectile Dysfunction 

There is a significant correlation between erectile dysfunction and smoking. Male smokers experience ED at twice the rate of non-smokers, with ED in itself as a marker of CVD. The result is a vicious cycle where sustained smoking increases CVD, which in turn heightens the signs and symptoms of ED. Smoking and ED are intrinsically related, with men under 40 particularly at risk. In all cases, the amount smoked directly affects the severity of ED.

To understand the relationship between CVD and ED, it is important to know a brief overview of the erectile process. The penis consists of spongy erectile tissue called Penis Corpora Cavernosa, which contains lots of little vessels that fill with blood during an erection. Healthy blood vessels have a venous seal, which, in this case, helps to maintain an erection. Smoking causes damage to these blood vessels, meaning that erections are delayed or even prevented.

Causes of ED not Directly Related to Smoking 

There are certain causes of ED that are not due to smoking, such as other diseases or psychological factors. Some conditions that can result in ED include removal of the prostate, Peyronie’s Disease (PD) or fibrous scarring of the penile tissue. In fewer cases, injury to the brain or spinal cord can create nervous system damage which impedes erection.  Psychological factors that can impact erection include anxiety, stress, depression, and problems within a relationship. In every case, smoking can exacerbate symptoms not directly caused by smoking.

It’s undeniable that smoking adversely affects fertility as well as ED. For this reason, smoking cessation is undeniably important if you wish to have a child or experience a sustained erection. If you have questions about erectile dysfunction, contact Katelaris Urology for an appointment. Dr. Katelaris will guide you through the process of smoking cessation as well as a plan to improve and correct erectile dysfunction.