Image of man vaping - does it cause ED?

There are many things that can lead to a man developing erectile dysfunction in his life. There are psychological components, physical components and lifestyle choices that can affect a man’s ability to get an erection or maintain an erection. [1]

Today, we will be discussing some of these and diving deeper concerning the effects vaping may play in sexual function.

What Is Vaping?

More than 9 million adults use electronic cigarettes or vaping products on a regular basis according to a recent report from the US Centers for Disease Control. [2] E-cigarettes are more popular among men than they are among women and more young people than older adults are likely to be users of them.  Obviously, they are a popular product, but what are they?

In 2007 e-cigarettes were first brought to mass market sale in the United States. Since then, their popularity has exploded.

There are a few different styles of these gadgets like e-cigarettes, vape pens and MODS (advanced devices that were specially made by their user). E-cigarettes tend to look like a normal cigarette whereas vape pens look like a writing pen and they are about the size of a cigar.

The act of using these devices is called “vaping”. A person vapes the same way they would smoke – by inhaling the contents of the vape pen or e-cigarette.

An electronic cigarette or vape pen is a battery-powered device. The battery powers a heating unit which heats up the liquid and turns it into an aerosol that the user can inhale.

The liquid used in these electronic cigarettes is composed mostly of vegetable glycerin or propylene glycol. In addition, there are chemicals and flavorings as well as nicotine.

Is It Safe?

These electronic cigarettes or vape pens are seen as a better alternative to cigarette smoking because they do not contain tobacco. But are they safer than smoking regular cigarettes? The jury is still out on that one. Since e-cigarettes and vape pens haven’t been used for long, there have been no long-term studies to see how they affect the users.

While the use of tobacco has been linked to many diseases and health issues [3], there are far more problems with cigarettes than just this one ingredient.

Regular cigarettes are full of dangerous gases like hydrogen cyanide and carbon monoxide. These are given off into the air as the cigarette burns. Cigarette smoke is also full of fine particles of a gummy substance known as tar. Research has shown that the tar is where most of the carcinogens are found. [4]

We also know that smoking can cause damage to everything from your lungs to your skin. Of course we should look for an alternative that will do less harm which is what many people tout as a benefit to e-cigarettes.

Studying these products and the effects they have is presenting a problem to researchers but they are beginning to become more familiar with e-cigarettes and the liquids they use.

One thing we do know is that there are many dangers and health problems that can come as a result of the chemicals in the vaping liquids…

  • Formaldehyde – This is a chemical that is commonly used in consumer and industrial applications and it also a byproduct of fire, cigarette smoke and auto exhaust. Formaldehyde has been linked to many forms of cancer and was long ago classified as a known carcinogen. [5] E-cigarettes also produce formaldehyde in the vapor t expelled by the user and researchers have been surprised at just how high the levels are. [6]
  • Diacetyl – Many flavors for e-cigarettes contain a chemical called diacetyl. This chemical can be dangerous when it is inhaled as when using a vape. Diacetyl has been linked to many problems in the lungs such as bronchitis, airway obstructions and other respiratory symptoms. [7]
  • Nicotine – This is a chemical present in traditional cigarettes and it is the chemical linked to addiction. [8] In addition to causing a person to become addicted to something deadly, nicotine has been linked to insulin resistance, diabetes, problems with regulating blood pressure and brain impairment in young children as well as erectile dysfunction. [9]

Can Vaping Cause Erectile Dysfunction?

Currently, there is no evidence linking the act of vaping directly to the prevalence of erectile dysfunction. However, one of the main ingredients in the vaping liquids has been repeatedly connected to this problem. Therefore, we can conclude that in all likelihood, vaping might indeed lead to a man experiencing erectile dysfunction.

The problematic ingredient in this instance is nicotine. Nicotine has been repeatedly linked to problems that can lead to impotence.

To get an erection, a man’s body must have adequate blood flow to the sexual organ. Increased blood flow filling the arteries and spongy tissue of the penis is what causes the erection. If this process is not able to happen for some reason, a man will be unable to get an erection.

Nicotine damages the endothelial system. It is known to be a vasoconstrictor, meaning that when it is in the bloodstream, it causes the blood vessels to narrow. This *reduces blood flow. [10] When blood flow is *reduced and adequate blood cannot get to the penis, an erection cannot be achieved.


While we can’t say for certain that vaping leads to ED, we can certainly see that ingredients used in the process of vaping can cause this problem.

If you are a vaper and you are experiencing erectile dysfunction in your life, consider cutting back on the nicotine ratio you are using or quitting altogether.


[1] Wyllie MG (2005) The Underlying Pathophysiology and Causes of Erectile Dysfunction. Clin Cornerstone 7(1): 19-27

[2] Schoenborn C, Gindi R (2015) Electronic Cigarette Use Among Adults: United States 2014. NCHS Data Brief 217

[3] Winn DM (2001) Tobacco Use and Oral Disease. J Dent Educ 65(4): 306-12

[4] Stellman SD, Garfinkel L (1989) Lung Cancer Risk is Proportional to Cigarette Tar Yield: Evidence from a Prospective Study. Prev Med 18(4): 518-25

[5] Swenberg J, Moeller B, Lu K, Rager J, Fry R, Starr T (2013) Formaldehyde Carcinogenicity Research: 30 Years and Counting for Mode of Action, Epidemiology, and Cancer Risk Assessment. Toxicol Pathol 41(2): 181-189

[6] Jensen RP, Wentai L, Pankow J, Strongin R, Peyton D (2015) Hidden Formaldehyde in E-Cigarette Aerosols. N Engl J Med 372:392-394

[7] Harber P, Saechao K, Boomus C (2006) Diacetyl-Induced Lung Disease. Toxicol Rev 25(4): 261-72

[8] Cosci F, Pistelli F, Lazzarini N, Corrozi L (2011) Nicotine Dependence and Psychological Distress: Outcomes and Clinical Implications in Smoking Cessation. Phsychol Res Behav Manag 4:119-128

[9] Mishra A, Chaturvedi P, Datta S, Sinukumar S, Joshi P, Garg A (2015) Harmful Effects of Nicotine. Indian J Med Paediart Oncol 36(1): 24-31

[10] Neunteufl T, Heher S, Kostner K, Mitulovic G, Lehr S, Khoschsorur G, Schmid RW, Maurer G, Stefenelli T (2002) Contribution of Nicotine to Acute Endothelial Dysfunction in Long-term Smokers. J Am Coll Cardiol 39(2): 251-6

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