According to a study published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine, one in four men seeking treatment for erectile dysfunction (ED), or the inability to have or maintain an erection, are under the age of 40. The study may come as a surprise to many who thought this problem only affected older men. Medical researchers have also found that many lifestyle factors can cause ED, including smoking.
Why smoking can cause ED
Erectile function is a cardiovascular function which affects blood flow to nerve endings. Anything that impacts this blood flow can also impact normal erectile function. Smoking increases a person's risk of developing hardening of the arteries, also known as atherosclerosis. This condition can reduce blood flow throughout the body, including to the penis.
Other causes of ED:
- Obesity - increases the risk of vascular disease which can cause ED
- High cholesterol - can damage the walls of blood vessels throughout the body, including those in the penis
- Lack of exercise - not exercising reduces the amount of blood flow through the arteries, including those in the penis
- Drug use - illegal drug use can damage blood vessels and restrict blood flow to the penis
- Drinking - excessive drinking (more than 2 drinks per day) can restrict blood flow to the penis and reduce the production of the male hormone testosterone, causing ED.
For more details about ED, visit www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/erectiledysfunction.html