These days it’s common knowledge that smoking cigarettes can lead to health complications like cancer, lung disease, and cardiovascular issues. A lot of people, especially men, are still finding out that smoking cigarettes can also cause erectile dysfunction.
Smoking’s effect on erections
Erections mostly come down to blood flow. For an erection to occur, blood must enter the penis and fill the corpora cavernosa. So when your blood pressure and blood flow are inhibited, this can become difficult. It’s been proven that smoking cigarettes can lead to cardiovascular dysfunction, because nicotine can make your veins and arteries smaller, which makes it hard for blood to move through the body. This can lead to symptoms of erectile dysfunction, or ED.
Reversing ED from cigarette smoking
When you stop a smoking habit, you’re vastly improving your overall health and well-being. Among reducing your risk for lung, oral, and cardiovascular conditions, quitting smoking can quickly improve ED symptoms. In most cases, men who quit smoking see improved cardiovascular circulation in as little as 2-12 weeks, which can improve and sometimes eliminate symptoms of ED.
In addition to quitting cigarettes, here are some of the best ways to improve your cardiovascular (and sexual) health:
- Exercise regularly
- Eat more fruits and vegetables, especially leafy greens
- Avoid processed fats and sugars
- Monitor and control stress levels
The emergence of cigarette alternatives like e-cigs and vape rigs are sometimes misconceived to be a safer option than traditional cigarettes. In reality, e-cigs and vapes also contain nicotine which can cause the blood flow issues that lead to ED.
7 strategies to quit smoking
Smoking is a huge roadblock to a life of optimal health and wellness. The mental and physical effects of nicotine addiction can be difficult to treat. But, it’s absolutely worth the effort. And there are many resources, like Giddy, that want to help. Here are some of the strategies anyone can take (and should) to help them quit smoking:
Find a good reason: If regaining the ability to perform sexually isn’t a strong enough reason, find some motivation to rally your mission around. Whether it’s to set a good example for your kids, or to improve your overall health, or to save extra money every month, having a “why” will help you stay firm in your decision to quit.
Consider nicotine patches and gum: If quitting ‘cold turkey’ sounds unrealistic for you, that’s okay. Talk to your doctor about nicotine alternatives you can use to help with some of the chemical and physical symptoms of quitting. These shouldn’t be used on an ongoing basis, but can be a helpful tool in the earlier stages of quitting.
Have a support system: Get your friends and family on board to hold you accountable. Another person being available to tell you “no” or help distract you during a craving can go a long way.
Find ways to relax: For many people, smoking cigarettes can be an escape when stressed. Look for other outlets to regulate your stress levels like regular jogs or walks, yoga, playing a sport, even treating yourself to a massage; whatever helps to replace the physical routine of smoking and keep you stress-free
Remove social pressure: Temptations to smoke can easily occur in social situations like being at bars, or parties. Try to remove these situations from your schedule, or plan for them accordingly, while you navigate the more difficult earlier weeks.
Exercise, exercise, exercise: When you exercise, your body releases endorphins that make you less stressed and more relaxed. This not only helps reduce cigarette cravings, but the improved cardiovascular health you gain from exercise can also help improve your ED.
Stay positive and accept the slip-ups: Many people slip up occasionally when trying to quit smoking. If this happens to you, stay positive; look at the big picture. Every attempt to stop smoking is helpful, and good for you. Don’t use this as an excuse to smoke; this doesn’t mean you’ve failed and should give up. Remind yourself that this is going to take some work. Acknowledge the mistake, adapt to the slip up, and continue to make your best efforts to quit.