Is there a connection between smoking, vaping and erectile dysfunction?

Smoking and vaping, in fact any form of nicotine intake, increase the risk getting ED

Nicotine is the culprit

That smoking is bad for your health and eventually can kill you in the long term shouldn’t be news to you. It also hurts your wallet and is a nuisance to people around you. All of that should be reason enough to abandon this bad habit.

If you are worrying about your ability to get and maintain erections or if you already have noticed first difficulties, there’s yet another reason to consider quitting smoking. Research in recent decades has demonstrated again and again that long-term smokers are more likely to get erectile dysfunction (ED) than non-smokers. This is particularly true if you are a man in his 40s and or older.

This is because smoking affects your cardiovascular health. It doesn’t matter whether you smoke cigarettes or shisha or vape or apply nicotine patches. It’s the nicotine that does most of the cardiovascular damage, as it causes blood vessels to repeatedly contract or narrow and thus causes blood flow irregularities. This wears out the blood vessels, just like high blood pressure, obesity and chronic stress, etc. The more you smoke, the greater the damage is done. A cigarette a day has limited impact, but once it becomes half a pack a day, your chances of ED and other cardiovascular issues and heart problems (not to mention lung cancer risk) significantly increases.  

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What happens is that once blood vessels in the penis are worn out they can no longer trap blood in sufficient quantities. Your erection’s stiffness and duration critically depends on how much blood can be trapped inside penile veins and for how long. Damaged blood vessels no longer live up to their job and your penis doesn’t get as hard as you’d like.   

By the way, long-term smoking can also damage the quantity and genetic quality of your sperm cells. If you still plan on having kids, that’s yet another reason to throw away your cigs and vapers.   

Is the damage done by smoking to you erectile functioning reversible?

That depends on how old you are and for how long you’ve been smoking or vaping. At least, if you give up tobacco now, the damage won’t get worse. In fact, in addition to quitting smoking, you’ll have to examine whether other lifestyle chances are required to prevent ED, such as doing more exercise, controlling your blood pressure better, and losing weight. A doctor can help you figure out what changes may be needed and could benefit your performance in bed.  

Studies suggest If you are younger than 50 and experienced ED problems, there’s a greater than 50% chance that your erectile functioning will improve after you quit smoking. However, the older you are, the longer this recovery takes. For men aged 50 and older, there even can be an initial worsening of their ED right after they give up smoking. If that happens to you, it’s important to remain patient; it may take up to a year or longer before you notice any improvements.     

The bad news is that this is that in cases of severe ED, stopping smoking, unfortunately, doesn’t yield any improvements anymore. The blood vessels are permanently damaged and won’t recover.

In the case of such permanent physical damage, only medications may still be able to improve erectile functioning. Sildenafil (Viagra), vardenafil (Levitra) and tadalafil (Cialis) are popular choices and have helped many men. They all are oral medications and increase the blood flow in the penis and thereby help you to get and keep erections. Depending on the drug, 50-80% of users notice some improvement. Of course, these drugs only increase the blood flow; you still need to be sexually aroused in order for your brain to trigger the erection. 

Each medication acts differently in terms of effectiveness and timing, and each has different side effects. Talk to a doctor to learn more about if you need such medical help and which drug may work best for you.    


  1. Kovac, J. R., et al. “Effects of Cigarette Smoking on Erectile Dysfunction.” Andrologia, vol. 47, no. 10, 29 Dec. 2014, pp. 1087–1092,, 10.1111/and.12393. Accessed 24 Feb. 2020.
  2. Chan, Sophia S. C., et al. “Smoking-Cessation and Adherence Intervention among Chinese Patients with Erectile Dysfunction.” American Journal of Preventive Medicine, vol. 39, no. 3, 1 Sept. 2010, pp. 251–258,, 10.1016/j.amepre.2010.05.006. Accessed 24 Feb. 2020.
  3. Austoni, Edoardo, et al. “Smoking as a Risk Factor for Erectile Dysfunction: Data from the Andrology Prevention Weeks 2001-2002 a Study of the Italian Society of Andrology (s.I.A.).” European Urology, vol. 48, no. 5, 1 Nov. 2005, pp. 810–817; discussion 817-818,, 10.1016/j.eururo.2005.03.005. Accessed 24 Feb. 2020.

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