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Reviewed by Katelyn Hagerty, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
So you’ve stubbed out your last cigarette, and the number on your “days since” chalkboard keeps going up and up. Nice job, bud — quitting a nicotine habit is no small feat.
Research has long shown a connection between smoking and stiffened arteries, but if you hoped quitting your tobacco habit would stiffen something else right away, you might need to find a (healthy) way to chill for a bit.
Unfortunately, smoking can do a lot of damage to your body, whether you’re using tobacco or vaping nicotine. And it may take some time for the parts of your body affected by the bad habit to get better.
We know you’ve probably got a pack of questions for us and may have read some things that sparked your curiosity elsewhere. Below, we’ll cover everything you want to know, like:
How smoking affects erectile dysfunction
How long it takes for ED to get better after you quit
Other sexual benefits of quitting smoking
We’ll also share some great tips for treating ED and quitting your smoking habit — that is, if you’re trying to be optimistic but still fighting the fight.
Smoking is, straight up, a bad time for your body — and you know just as well as we do that you don’t need a medical degree to prove it.
A cigarette isn’t exactly going to kill you on its own, but the habit leads to a number of terrible long-term health repercussions that start adding up a lot sooner than you might think.
More than seven million people die each year from smoking, including nearly half a million in the U.S. What’s more, smokers die an average of 10 years sooner than non-smokers.
What they die from can be a varied list. Smoking causes:
Several types of cancer
Then there’s the smoking and erectile dysfunction (ED) connection. Another thing smoking causes in men is ED. Erectile function is a question of healthy blood flow to the blood vessels of the penis. Habits like cigarette smoking and diseases like high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease are causes of erectile dysfunction.
Erectile dysfunction and smoking have many areas of overlap. Since smoking causes cardiovascular problems, it’s an indirect cause of sexual health and sexual performance problems.
It’s unclear exactly how long your particular problems with ED will take to clear up after you stop smoking — it’s also unclear if they’ll clear up at all.
Research shows that ED does improve for people who quit smoking — for the most part. A 2004 study looked at about 300 people with ED who either quit or didn’t quit smoking over the course of a year. It found that the folks who quit were more likely to see improvement than those who didn’t.
Maybe this is obvious, but the heavy smokers fared worst. This cements that not only is smoking a risk factor for ED and sexual dysfunction, but the severity of ED experienced by current smokers is tied to how much they smoke. Yes, health issues and overall health get worse when you smoke more.
Unfortunately, the study also found that only about 25 percent of people who quit saw significant improvement in ED, suggesting that the link between sexual function and ED has its recovery limits.
Health problems may take more than a year to recover, and none of the research we found suggests you’ll definitely regain full function. Heavier smokers might take longer, or the damage might simply be too severe. That’s why quitting now is the only good strategy to treat ED.
More broadly, though, research shows a substantial connection between cessation and better erections, so don’t let your hopes slump too much. Instead, focus on the act of quitting.
Besides, there’s more than one benefit of nixing cigarettes.
What other benefits of smoking cessation could you need if your erections come back at full force? There might be many, actually.
In the long term, smoking can do damage to your appearance, your stuff, your finances and your game. The American Cancer Society mentions lots of these things alongside the awesome “being alive to keep having sex” benefit you’ll keep hearing about from us.
Beyond that, there are some genuine benefits to your sex life to keep in mind when fighting the urge. If you quit smoking, we can pretty much guarantee the following:
You’ll have a bigger budget for great sex toys with all the money you’ll save.
You won’t have to dry-clean your clothes as often.
You’ll be less likely to accidentally light your partner’s stuff on fire.
You might get your morning wood back.
You won’t be carrying around graphic pictures of tobacco-related diseases.
You’ll spend less time in gas stations where they sell questionable sex pills.
Your teeth won’t continue to stain, and your hair and skin may improve.
Your breath won’t offend half the dating pool. (If it does, consider our chewable ED meds hard mints to take care of that and ED at the same time).
Need more motivation? Consider that the following list of people will think you’re cool:
Children who watch TV
Those four out of five doctors everyone is always talking about
All forest fire responsibility mascots
The cast of Sesame Street
Adults who think vaping is dumb
There’s really no reason not to quit, fellas.
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As much as willpower and a “cold turkey” strategy may help some people quit smoking, we can assure you that neither willpower nor cold turkey is the best recommended way to deal with ED or cravings.
Ex-smokers may swear by nicotine patches or nicotine gum to manage withdrawal symptoms. But at the end of the day, whatever helps you stop smoking cigarettes is the right thing.
There are so many treatments, support groups, apps and blogs designed to help you quit. Various tools are available, but certain things are proven to help with smoking.
If you’re ready to quit smoking, consider some of the following treatment strategies:
Try nicotine replacement therapy in the form of gum or a patch.
As for ED, willpower and apps aren’t going to do much to treat the issue. Instead, experts generally advise lifestyle changes, medication and therapy for the treatment of ED.
Regardless of whether you’re suffering from ED due to tobacco use, there are several treatments and ways to get a handle on the problem. These erectile dysfunction treatments include:
Quitting smoking and stopping use of unsafe or illegal drugs
Losing weight, eating well and maintaining an active, healthy lifestyle
Using ED medications like sildenafil and tadalafil
Working through the potential psychological causes of ED with an online therapist
Do that, and you’re bound to see improvements to your health — likely your total health and happiness picture. But it has to start with the decision to make changes — to quit, to seek support, to do better.
Nicotine sucks. There’s pretty much nothing good to say about it — and that’s coming from a blog that’s covered herbal Viagra, natural remedies for ED and some (actually cool) research on the benefits of cock rings.
In other words, if there were any notable benefits of nicotine, we’d have found them.
Chances are, you’re here because you’re looking for something. Maybe it’s a reason to quit, or maybe it’s a timetable for feeling like yourself again. Whatever it is, these takeaways are the key points we’ve shared — if you remember nothing else, remember that:
Smoking can absolutely cause erectile dysfunction. You’re damaging more than just your lungs when you smoke.
Quitting a cigarette habit can reverse ED, but it’s not clear how quickly (or how certainly) your erections will go back to normal.
Quitting smoking and treating ED may be two different challenges that call for medication or therapy.
You can do it, and we can help.
Check out our comprehensive erectile dysfunction guide to learn everything you could want to know.
Smoking and cardiovascular disease - centers for disease control and ... (n.d.). https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/sgr/50th-anniversary/pdfs/fs_smoking_cvd_508.pdf. .S. Department of Health and Human Services. (n.d.-d). Treatment for erectile dysfunction - NIDDK. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/urologic-diseases/erectile-dysfunction/treatment. Sealock T, Sharma S. Smoking Cessation. [Updated 2023 Jan 23]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK482442/. Pourmand, G., Alidaee, M. R., Rasuli, S., Maleki, A., & Mehrsai, A. (2004). Do cigarette smokers with erectile dysfunction benefit from stopping?: a prospective study. BJU international, 94(9), 1310–1313. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15610111/. Kovac, J. R., Labbate, C., Ramasamy, R., Tang, D., & Lipshultz, L. I. (2015). Effects of cigarette smoking on erectile dysfunction. Andrologia, 47(10), 1087. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4485976/. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (n.d.-a). Definition & Facts for erectile dysfunction - NIDDK. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/urologic-diseases/erectile-dysfunction/definition-facts. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022, November 28). Bupropion SR. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/campaign/tips/quit-smoking/quit-smoking-medications/which-quit-smoking-medicine-is-right-for-you/bupropion-sr.html. Health benefits of quitting smoking over time. Information and Resources about for Cancer: Breast, Colon, Lung, Prostate, Skin. (n.d.). https://www.cancer.org/cancer/risk-prevention/tobacco/benefits-of-quitting-smoking-over-time.html