Smoking can make you impotent

Posted by DrMendelsohn on 29 April, 2013

ED-and-smoking-4.jpgSmoking increases a man’s risk of developing erectile dysfunction (impotence). The good news is that the condition improves after quitting.

A recent scientific study (Cao 2013) pooled all the findings from 8 previous studies and did a combined analysis of the data (meta-analysis). They found that smokers had a 51% increased risk of ED compared to non-smokers.

As with many smoking-related health conditions, the risk of erectile dysfunction fell significantly after quitting. Ex-smokers on average had only a 20% increased risk, a 30% reduction after quitting.

How does smoking make you impotent?

Erectile dysfunction is when a man is unable to get and/or keep an erection that allows sexual intercourse. An erection is produced by an increased flow of blood into the penis. The blood is trapped in the penis, leading to engorgement and swelling.

However, smoking causes progressive narrowing of the artery to the penis, reducing the flow of blood, so an erection cannot occur.

The blockage of the penile artery is similar to the narrowing and blockage of arteries all over the body. Narrowing of heart arteries can cause a heart attack, narrowing of arteries to the brain can cause a stroke.



Cao S. Smoking and risk of erectile dysfunction. A systematic review of observational studies with meta-analysis. PLoS One 2013

Tostes RC. Cigarette Smoking and Erectile Dysfunction. Journal of Sexual Medicine 2008

Andrology Australia. Fact sheet on erectile dysfunction


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