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What men might not know, however, is that smoking can also lead to erectile dysfunction (ed). Studies have shown that men who smoke are more likely to develop ed. And the more a man smokes - both quantity and duration of time - the worse his ed tends to be.
The good news is that quitting smoking can help restore erections. Let's look at this relationship more closely.
When a man is sexually stimulated, his brain sends signals to the penis to trigger an erection. Smooth muscle tissue relaxes and arteries widen, allowing the penis to fill with blood. When enough blood flows in, veins constrict to keep it there until the man ejaculates (or the stimulation stops). Then the veins open and blood flows back into the body.
As you can see, blood flow is critical for a good erection. Blood is what gives the penis the firmness needed for sex. When blood flow is compromised, so is the erection.
Smoking tobacco releases chemicals that interfere with this process. This can happen in a few ways.
- Hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis). Chemicals can damage the lining of blood vessels, making it difficult for blood to flow into the penis.
- damage to smooth muscle tissue. When this tissue can't relax properly, blood flow becomes impaired.
- decreased nitic oxide.Smoking interferes with the body's production of nitric oxide, a compound needed for erections.
- Other health conditions, like diabetes and heart disease, can contribute to ed, too. If you're having erection problems, it's important to have a full checkup with your doctor. But quitting smoking definitely, can't hurt.
Quitting smoking should make you feel better overall. You'll feel good about yourself knowing that you've taken an important step toward better health - and possibly better sex!