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Vaping and Erectile Dysfunction: Is There a Link?

Kelly Brown MD, MBA

Reviewed by Kelly Brown, MD

Written by Geoffrey C. Whittaker

Published 06/28/2022

Updated 04/27/2024

E-cigarettes and vape pens have become hugely popular in the last decade. But inhaling nicotine in any form still comes with real health risks, including a potential link between vaping and erectile dysfunction (ED).

How does vaping affect you sexually? Like other nicotine products, vape liquids can mess with your cardiovascular system and reduce blood flow throughout your body. Because of this, an increasing amount of research suggests vaping and erectile dysfunction are connected.

Below, we’ll explain how vaping can impact your overall health and sexual function. We’ll also discuss methods for quitting and go over erectile dysfunction treatments.

Described by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) as “electronic nicotine delivery systems,” or ENDS, vape devices are often touted as healthier alternatives to cigarettes. Unfortunately, this isn’t really accurate — case in point: their potential effects on sexual health.

Like traditional tobacco products, the liquids in most vape pens contain nicotine. Smoke or no smoke, nicotine is an addictive chemical with a high risk of long-term dependence. Beyond being addictive, the health effects of electronic cigarettes and similar products can negatively impact your sex life.

What Nicotine Does to the Body

Nicotine has several effects on the body, including some that are positive. For example, it can temporarily boost your mood, making you feel happy. It might also stimulate memory and alertness, helping you focus on tasks.

However, nicotine also has numerous negative health effects. These include increasing your heart rate, elevating your blood pressure and contributing to anxiety, restlessness and cravings. This is where the association of e-cigarettes with erectile dysfunction comes in.

According to a study published in the journal Trends in Cardiovascular Medicine, nicotine is a vasoconstrictor. This essentially means it narrows the blood vessels supplying blood to your heart muscles, which affects blood flow throughout your body.

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Erectile function relies on several factors, one of which is healthy, consistent blood flow. When you feel sexually aroused, chemicals cause the blood vessels supplying your penis with blood to expand, increasing blood flow. As more blood flows to erectile tissue, your penis becomes ready for penetrative sex.

Since healthy erections are so dependent on blood flow, anything affecting heart function, blood vessels and the rest of the cardiovascular system can increase the odds of erectile dysfunction.

For instance, several of the most common physical causes of erectile dysfunction include heart disease, hypertension (high blood pressure) and atherosclerosis (clogged arteries).

Because nicotine constricts blood vessels and reduces blood flow, any habit that provides your body with a regular supply of the stuff — e-cigarette use included — could lead to ED.

Several recent studies have suggested that vaping is related to certain forms of sexual dysfunction, including ED.

One study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found that men who vaped had a significantly higher rate of erectile dysfunction than guys who didn’t use nicotine.

For context, cigarette smoking — which consistently supplies the body with nicotine and harms the cardiovascular system — has long been recognized as a contributor to erectile dysfunction in men.

According to an article published in the book Public Health Consequences of E-Cigarettes, the amount of nicotine in vape liquid can vary dramatically, from 0.3% to as much as 5% by volume. Just like tobacco smoke, the vapor produced from this liquid is absorbed by the lungs, allowing nicotine to rapidly make its way into your bloodstream.

Cigarettes vs. Vaping and ED

The effects of vaping may be less harmful overall than cigarette use, primarily because inhaling actual smoke is bad for the lungs. Still, vaping can affect blood flow throughout your body and potentially interfere with your ability to get — and, just as importantly, maintain — an erection.

In the above-mentioned study, men who reported using electronic nicotine delivery systems were more than twice as likely as non-vapers to have erectile dysfunction.

The researchers also found that physical activity was associated with a lower risk of ED, both in e-cigarette users and non-users.

Research published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health also found that the use of e-cigarettes and other vaping devices can contribute to sexual health issues.

However, further studies are needed to establish a stronger link between e-cig consumption and ED.

Vaping and Sperm Count

Vaping is also associated with a reduction in sperm count — an issue that could have an additional negative effect on male reproductive health.

A systematic review published in the Central European Journal of Urology noted that while mature data on the effects of vaping and urologic health (relating to the urinary tract and reproductive organs) isn’t available, vaping may still damage blood vessels in the penis.

There might also be a link between marijuana and erectile dysfunction — read our blog for details.

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There’s very little research on the interactions between vaping and erectile dysfunction medication. But generally speaking, men should avoid vaping if they’re taking medications for ED.

Prescription ED drugs are formulated to treat cardiovascular health conditions that affect erectile function. These medications create serious health risks when misused or taken alongside nitric oxide and other supplements that can increase blood flow.

Using vasoconstrictors while taking a vasodilator could — at the very least — make medications like Viagra®, Cialis® and Stendra® not function properly.

Chronic vaping can put a strain on your cardiovascular system. If your healthcare provider is unaware of your nicotine habit, they might prescribe higher doses of medication to compensate, which could lead to side effects that make ED medications less effective.

Experts are still investigating whether the damage caused by nicotine can be reversed with smoking cessation and vaping cessation. (Cessation means discontinued use.) But most agree that quitting these habits can reduce the effects on your sexual function — at least, to a degree.

Endothelial (blood vessel) damage is often reversible if you stop doing the thing that caused it in the first place.

Since vaping negatively impacts cardiovascular health, one of the best things you can do to increase blood flow and improve your erections is to kick the vaping habit.

Of course, quitting vaping can be difficult because of how addictive nicotine is. However, it’s not impossible and is absolutely worth attempting.

Vaping and erectile dysfunction (among other health issues) might be connected. Want to cut the habit? Smokefree.gov lets you create a personalized “quit plan.” You can choose your quit date and identify your triggers.

Quitting vaping can be difficult, especially if you’re also a cigarette smoker. Here’s what might make giving up nicotine easier:

  • Understanding and writing down why you’re quitting

  • Quitting vaping and other tobacco products all at once

  • Setting a specific quit date less than two weeks away

  • Identifying vaping triggers and taking steps to avoid them

  • Making the mental shift to seeing yourself as someone who no longer vapes

You may also benefit from talking to your primary care provider. They can provide guidance, prescribe medication to assist with cravings or refer you to a tobacco cessation counselor.

What About Low- or No-Nicotine Vape Liquids?

If you’re struggling to quit, switching to a low-nicotine or zero-nicotine vape liquid might help limit harm to your cardiovascular system and reduce your risk of dealing with erectile dysfunction.

This could also be a temporary solution if you currently vape every day and want to gradually reduce your nicotine intake instead of quitting cold turkey.

But remember, even low-nicotine vape products may have a negative impact on your heart health. Also, keep in mind that many vape liquids contain harmful chemicals other than nicotine.

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Vaping and erectile dysfunction might have a cause-and-effect relationship. But erectile dysfunction is a treatable condition.

Beyond quitting or cutting down on your nicotine habit, you might consider medications, such as sildenafil (the active ingredient in Viagra) or tadalafil (generic Cialis), to improve blood flow to your penis.

The association between erectile dysfunction and vaping isn’t quite as clear as the ED effects of traditional cigarettes. But an increasing number of studies show that men who vape are more likely to develop ED than those who don’t consume any nicotine products.

Here’s what to keep in mind about vaping erectile dysfunction:

  • If you vape daily, quitting may not just improve your overall health — it could also improve your erections and performance in bed.

  • Switching from a high-nicotine vape liquid to something milder might be a good way to gradually reduce your nicotine intake and make progress toward quitting for good.

  • In addition to quitting vaping, you can treat ED by living a healthy, balanced lifestyle with plenty of physical activity.

  • Our range of medications for ED can also help with getting and maintaining erections hard enough for sex.

Hims offers a range of erectile dysfunction treatment options, including Viagra, Cialis and Stendra (and their generic versions), as well as chewable ED hard mints for guys who aren’t into swallowing pills.

16 Sources

  1. Vaping Devices (Electronic Cigarettes). (2020, January). Retrieved from https://nida.nih.gov/sites/default/files/drugfacts-vaping-devices.pdf
  2. About Electronic Cigarettes (E-Cigarettes). (2022, March 21). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/basic_information/e-cigarettes/about-e-cigarettes.html
  3. Eaton, D.L., et al. (2018, January 23). Public Health Consequences of E-Cigarettes. Committee on the Review of the Health Effects of Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK507191/
  4. Nicotine and tobacco. (2020, August 13). Retrieved from https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/000953.htm
  5. Benowitz, N.L. & Burbank, A.D. (2016, August). Cardiovascular Toxicity of Nicotine: Implications for Electronic Cigarette Use. Trends in Cardiovascular Medicine. 26 (6), 515-523. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4958544/
  6. Dhaliwal, A. & Gupta, M. (2021, June 25). PDE5 Inhibitors. StatPearls. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK549843/
  7. Symptoms & Causes of Erectile Dysfunction. (2017, July). Retrieved from https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/urologic-diseases/erectile-dysfunction/symptoms-causes
  8. Kovac, J.R., et al. (2015, December). Effects of cigarette smoking on erectile dysfunction. Andrologia. 47 (10), 1087-1092. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4485976/
  9. El-Shahawy, O., et al. (2022, January 1). Association of E-Cigarettes With Erectile Dysfunction: The Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health Study. American Journal of Preventive Medicine. 62 (1), 26-38. Retrieved from https://www.ajpmonline.org/article/S0749-3797(21)00429-3/fulltext
  10. Devitt, M. (2021, December 22). Research Links E-cigarette Use to Erectile Dysfunction. Retrieved from https://www.aafp.org/news/health-of-the-public/20211222ecigsed.html
  11. Pincus, J., et al. (2022, January). E-Cigarette-Associated Endothelial Damage: A Potential Mechanism for Erectile Dysfunction. Sexual Medicine Reviews. 10 (1), 168-173. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33931382/
  12. Bjurlin, M.A., et al. (2021). Alternative tobacco products use and its impact on urologic health – will the lesser evil still be evil? A commentary and review of literature. Central European Journal of Urology. 74 (2), 152-160. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8318020/
  13. Take Back Control. Make Your Quit Plan. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://teen.smokefree.gov/vaping-quit-plan
  14. How to Quit Vaping. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://teen.smokefree.gov/quit-vaping/how-to-quit-vaping
  15. Treatment for Erectile Dysfunction. (2017, July). Retrieved from https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/urologic-diseases/erectile-dysfunction/treatment
  16. Szumilas, K., Szumilas, P., Grzywacz, A., & Wilk, A. (2020). The Effects of E-Cigarette Vapor Components on the Morphology and Function of the Male and Female Reproductive Systems: A Systematic Review. International journal of environmental research and public health, 17(17), 6152. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7504689/
Editorial Standards

Hims & Hers has strict sourcing guidelines to ensure our content is accurate and current. We rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We strive to use primary sources and refrain from using tertiary references. See a mistake? Let us know at [email protected]!

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment. Learn more about our editorial standards here.

Kelly Brown MD, MBA
Kelly Brown, MD

Dr. Kelly Brown is a board certified Urologist and fellowship trained in Andrology. She is an accomplished men’s health expert with a robust background in healthcare innovation, clinical medicine, and academic research. Dr. Brown is a founding member of Posterity Health where she is Medical Director and leads strategy and design of their Digital Health Platform, an innovative education and telehealth model for delivering expert male fertility care.

She completed her undergraduate studies at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (go Heels!) with a Bachelor of Science in Radiologic Science and a Minor in Chemistry. She took a position at University of California Los Angeles as a radiologic technologist in the department of Interventional Cardiology, further solidifying her passion for medicine. She also pursued the unique opportunity to lead departmental design and operational development at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, sparking her passion for the business of healthcare.

Dr. Brown then went on to obtain her doctorate in medicine from the prestigious Northwestern University - Feinberg School of Medicine and Masters in Business Administration from Northwestern University - Kellogg School of Management, with a concentration in Healthcare Management. During her surgical residency in Urology at University of California San Francisco, she utilized her research year to focus on innovations in telemedicine and then served as chief resident with significant contributions to clinical quality improvement. Dr. Brown then completed her Andrology Fellowship at Medical College of Wisconsin, furthering her expertise in male fertility, microsurgery, and sexual function.

Her dedication to caring for patients with compassion, understanding, as well as a unique ability to make guys instantly comfortable discussing anything from sex to sperm makes her a renowned clinician. In addition, her passion for innovation in healthcare combined with her business acumen makes her a formidable leader in the field of men’s health.

Dr. Brown is an avid adventurer; summiting Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania (twice!) and hiking the incredible Torres del Paine Trek in Patagonia, Chile. She deeply appreciates new challenges and diverse cultures on her travels. She lives in Denver with her husband, two children, and beloved Bernese Mountain Dog. You can find Dr. Brown on LinkedIn for more information.

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