Medical research has consistently shown that smoking is most likely a major cause of Erectile Dysfunction (ED). Erectile Dysfunction is also colloquially referred to as ‘impotence’ (a term of much wider import encompassing multifarious dysfunctions of the male reproductive system). Men who smoke over 20 cigarettes a day have a 60% higher risk of Erectile Dysfunction as compared to men who do not smoke. The Erectile Dysfunction becomes much more severe if the smokers also suffer from diabetes. Most people start smoking in their teenage and end up with a strong nicotine dependency that persists even in adulthood. Further, they are often unaware that smoking can cause Erectile Dysfunction in the later years of life.
How does smoking affect sexual function and performance?
• When a person smokes he inhales large amounts of carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide deprives the voluntary muscles as well as vital organs such as brain, heart etc of oxygen. When these vital organs do not receive sufficient oxygen, they immediately lose their ability function efficiently and optimally. Principally, the heart has to work much harder to deliver oxygenated blood to all parts of the body. Naturally, this leads takes a toll on the supply of blood to the male genital organ as well. As full erection needs effective and optimum supply of blood, any inadequacy in blood supply leads to Erectile Dysfunction.
• Nicotine in cigarettes, although regarded by smokers as a stimulant, only worsens the harmful effects of carbon monoxide by increasing heart rate and elevated blood pressure. There is a strong link between high blood pressure and Erectile Dysfunction ().
• Scientists have found that smoking leads to fat deposition in blood vessels. This reduces the inner circumference of blood vessels. Even elasticity of blood vessels diminishes as a result of sustained smoking. Thus arteries fail to supply adequate amount of blood to organs of body and male reproductive system is no exception to this inadequacy. This paves way for Erectile Dysfunction.
• Additionally, the so-called ‘Low- Tar’ cigarettes are more harmful than their ‘regular’ counterparts due to physiological and psychological reasons. ‘Low-Tar’ cigarette smokers inhale more smoke and carcinogenic agents (caner causing agents) than regular cigarette smokers. Further, they are psychologically pre-disposed to smoking more cigarettes believing them to be less harmful that the regular ones. Thus ‘Low- Tar’ cigarettes cause more harm to body.
• Although erectile dysfunction is not a life threatening condition, it certainly spoils the quality of life and can be a cause for much emotional and psychological turmoil. Thus it goes without saying that it is of paramount importance to stop smoking and embrace a healthy lifestyle to lead a quality sexual life.