Smoking and impotence in men have now been conclusively found to be linked, as have smoking and infertility. Male impotence, or erectile dysfunction, is the repeated inability to have or maintain an erection.
Erectile functioning needs the coordination of several systems in the body. The nervous system works in coordination with hormones, and the vascular system which supplies blood to the erectile tissue of the penis. Smoking can affect all these systems, which in turn, may result in male impotence.
Long-term smoking leads to a greater risk of male impotence. In a US smoking and impotence study, healthy men who smoked and had no history of impotence, heart disease or diabetes, were interviewed twice over an 8 year period. The second interview in this study revealed that these men were twice as likely to experience moderate or severe impotence.
A secondary study confirmed that smoking is an independent risk factor contributing to male impotence. After considering other risk factors, it was found that current smokers were twice as likely to experience male impotence as non-smokers.
Another study grouped impotent smokers according to how many cigarettes they smoked each day. Heavy smokers, of 40+ cigarettes a day, were found to have the softest night-time erections. It was concluded that smoking was related to an abnormal decline of blood pressure in the male organ. A direct link between smoking and impotence.
Smoking and Impotence: Damage and Recovery
Smoking leads to artery damage where plaques form on their inner lining, slowing the flow of blood to the penis. Additionally, nicotine causes the constriction of blood vessels. This means that blood supply to the penis will be further compromised in a man who smokes; another definite connection between smoking and impotence.
Full or partial recovery of erectile function is possible by quitting smoking. Men who lose their erections have completely reversed this situation by quitting smoking. This recovery from male impotence is subject to the amount of damage inflicted on the body by smoking.
Smoking and Infertility
Smoking affects male fertility by reducing sperm density and motility compared with that of non-smokers, increasing the risk of male infertility.
One study found that sperm damaged by smoking may also result in more couples having baby girls than boys, suggesting that sperm cells carrying the Y chromosome are more vulnerable to cigarette smoke toxins, thus reinforcing the link between smoking and infertility in men.