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Does smoking cause impotence?

Erectile dysfunction (ED), also called impotence, can be caused by a variety of physical and psychological factors. Among them is smoking. This is not surprising, since smoking can damage blood vessels, and ED is often the result of poor arterial blood supply to the penis. Fortunately, if you quit smoking, your vascular and sexual health and performance are likely to improve.

Smoking can damage almost every part of your body. Chemicals in cigarette smoke damage the lining of your blood vessels and affect the way they work. These chemicals can also damage your heart, brain, kidneys and other tissues throughout your body.

The risk of smoking to your erectile health is due to the effects of the chemicals in cigarettes on the blood vessels in the penis. An erection occurs when the arteries in the penis expand and fill with blood after receiving signals from the penile nerves. The nerves respond to sexual arousal signals from the brain. Even if the nervous system is working well, an erection may not be physically possible if the blood vessels are unhealthy due to smoking.

Research suggests that the chances of developing erectile dysfunction are much higher in patients who smoke. However, quitting smoking can improve erectile dysfunction symptoms.

A June 2016 study also found that men who smoke have more damage to their sperm than nonsmokers. The study, published in the journal BJU International, compared 20 men who did not smoke and 20 who smoked. The smokers had a higher percentage of damaged sperm, possibly due in part to the inflammation seen in the testes and accessory glands. Smoking appeared to decrease sperm health activity and caused increased DNA fragmentation in the sperm. These problems with the men's sperm could influence their fertility. https://bjui-journals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/bju.13539

The new findings, published in the British Journal of Urology International, suggest that it is not just smoking, but nicotine itself that causes erection problems, as improvements in the men's erections were not seen until patch use was discontinued. https://bjui-journals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/j.1464-410X.2011.10503.x

Other studies claim that men who make lifestyle changes to improve their cardiovascular health (quit smoking, reduce cholesterol, lose weight, and exercise) also improve their erectile dysfunction symptoms.

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