Picture of a man covered in smoke, symbolizing the will to quit to reverse problems caused by it, like erectile dysfunction

Erectile dysfunction, also known as impotence, is a sexual health problem that can plague men of any age though it tends to have a higher prevalence in men over 40 years of age. [1]

There are a wide variety of physical and psychological things that can lead to a man’s impotence. A man’s lifestyle choices also heavily influence his ability to achieve and sustain an erection. One of the main lifestyle choices that play a role in a man’s sexual dysfunction is whether or not he is a smoker.

Smoking can cause any number of terrible health problems from skin conditions like psoriasis to cardiac problems like coronary heart disease. Smokers are also 3 times more likely to have a stroke than people who don’t smoke. [2] According to the CDC, the leading cause of cancer death in the United States is lung cancer that is the result of smoking.

If these problems aren’t enough to make you consider putting down the pack of cigarettes then you should also know that smoking habits have been directly linked to the prevalence of erectile dysfunction in men. [3]

Relation Between Smoking and Impotence

When you light up a cigarette and inhale the smoke, it starts to take hold on every part of your body. There are a huge number of chemicals in cigarette smoke and they can all cause serious damage. One specific system that the cigarette smoke damages is the endothelial system. [4] This is the lining of your blood vessels.

If you are wondering what the lining of your blood vessels have to do with your ability to get an erection, keep reading…

When your body is sexually stimulated in some way, be it by something visual or a touch sensation, your brain starts sending signals out to your body letting it know it’s aroused. Your heart starts pumping blood to your penis and the spongy tissue and arteries inside the sexual organ fill with this blood. When the penis is filled with blood, it lengthens and hardens resulting in an erection.

If the blood is unable to get to the penis due to damage to the blood vessels, a man will not achieve an erection. Sometimes he can get a small erection but it won’t last long enough to have satisfactory sexual intercourse.

In addition to the problems caused within the blood vessels, studies have also shown that smoking has an effect on testosterone levels. [5] *Lower testosterone levels can affect a man’s ability to become aroused, which will obviously play a role in his ability to get an erection.

In another study that was done in 2016, researchers found that when compared to nonsmokers, men who do smoke have far more damage to their sperm. [6] Smoking was shown to *lessen the health and activity of the sperm and it also causes problems with DNA in the sperm. These unhealthy sperm can negatively affect a man’s ability to become a father.

What Can I Do To Reverse This?

In a word, quit.

Your risk of developing erectile dysfunction is much higher if you light up multiple times a day. The more cigarettes you smoke, the more likely you are to suffer with the inability to get an erection. [7]

While it’s possible that you can *reverse the effects of erectile dysfunction caused by smoking, there are many factors that will come into play when determining how successful you will be in doing so.

Your age will play a role in your success. While impotence is not a rite of passage when aging, there are plenty of factors that can cause it to become a problem as a man gets older.

Another factor will be how serious your problems with erectile dysfunction were before you stopped smoking.

Many people who smoke also have other poor habits such as overconsumption of alcohol or an unhealthy diet.

So, in order to reverse your erectile dysfunction and *improve the quality of your erections, you need to stop smoking. It has been proven time and again in many studies that when men quit smoking, their sexual function *improves.

In a study conducted in 2011, researchers gave men the tools needed to quit smoking – nicotine replacement therapy and counseling. They measured the men’s erections throughout the duration of the study and found that the men who successfully quit smoking had great results upon the completion of the study. The men who continued to abstain from nicotine were able to reach peak arousal faster than the others and their erections were wider and firmer. [8] Quitting the cigarettes directly affected the ability to get erections and sustain them for longer periods of time.

Drinking too much alcohol can also *reduce a man’s ability to get an erection or to achieve orgasm during intercourse. Cutting back on the booze will likely benefit your sexual function.

An unhealthy diet can lead to many health problems. These problems can include obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure.

All of these problems can lead to disturbances in the blood flow throughout the body, which can result in erectile dysfunction.


To wrap this up, anything that is bad for your heart is bad for your sexual functioning.

Quit smoking and make *better lifestyle choices and it is highly likely that your sexual functioning will greatly *improve as well.

What are you waiting for?!


[1] Johannes CB, Araujo AB, Feldman HA, Derby CA, Kleinman KP, McKinlay JB (2000) Incidence of Erectile Dysfunction in Men 40-69 Years Old: Longitudinal Results from the Massachusetts Male Aging Study. J Urol 163(2): 460-3

[2] Hankey GJ (1999) Smoking and Risk of Stroke. J Cardiovasc Risk 6(4): 207-11

[3] Millet C, Wen LM, Rissel C, Smith A, Richters J, Grulich A, deVisser R (2006) Smoking and Erectile Dysfunction: Findings from a Representative Sample of Australian Men. Tob Control 15(2): 136-139

[4] Pittilo RM (2000) Cigarette Smoking, Endothelial Injury and Cardiovascular Disease. Int J Exp Pathol 81(4): 219-230

[5] Svartberg J, Jorde R (2007) Endogenous Testosterone Levels and Smoking in Men. The Fifth Tromso Study. Int J Androl 30(3): 137-43

[6] Antoniassi M, Intasui P, Camargo M, Zylbersztejn D, Carvalho V, Cardozo K, Bertolla R (2016) Analysis of the Functional Aspects and Seminal Plasma Proteomic Profile of Sperm from Smokers. BJU Int 118:814-822

[7] Pourmand G, Alidaee MR, Rasuli S, Maleki A, Mehrsai A (2004) Do Cigarette Smokers with Erectile Dysfunction Benefit from Stopping? A Prospective Study. BJU International 94:1310-1313

[8] Harte CB, Meston CM (2012) Association between Smoking Cessation and Sexual Health in Men. BJU International 109:888-896

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