Erectile Dysfunction and Smoking: Are They Related?

By Barb Hicks

The media has bombarded us with advertisements for Viagra and other medications for erectile dysfunction or ED; however these clever ads neglect to tell everyone that this medical condition consists of more than just the inability to obtain and maintain and erection. For men who smoke cigarettes, the ED can also be a sign of vascular disease and the signal that a heart attack is coming in the not so distant future.

It has been widely documented of the negative effects smoking has on the body such as heart disease and cancer. However, it is not widely known that men between the ages of 40 and 49 who experience erectile dysfunction have a high risk for heart disease. Furthermore, it is not generally mentioned that men who smoke increase their risk for heart disease and ED as well.

The inability to obtain and maintain an erection is the definition of erectile dysfunction. While this problem can be caused by many things, it is generally brought about by underlying diseases such as high blood pressure and diabetes. If a man afflicted with these diseases smokes, he only increases their effects as well as creating new problematic symptoms.

How smoking affects the Vascular System:

Smoking causes the blood vessels of the vascular system to become narrow, which can have an effect on a man's ability to have an erection. The ability to get and maintain an erection is dependent upon the health of the vascular system of the body.

There are two erectile bodies in the shaft of the penis called corpus cavernosum. They are made up of smooth muscle and blood vessels. The penis becomes erect when the corpus cavernosum fills with blood and maintains the erection by shutting down the veins that carry blood away from the penis. Erectile dysfunction occurs when this process is interrupted.

A study conducted in China in 2000, suggests that the number of cigarettes smoked can have an impact on a man's erection abilities. In addition to this, the dysfunction was even more pronounced in men who had diabetes. This may also be true as well for men who have hypertension, due to the side effects of the medications prescribed for it.

Heart Disease and Erectile Dysfunction:

It is a well known fact among health care professionals that erectile dysfunction is indicative of vascular disease. It is a two to three year warning sign of myocardial infarction (heart attack). Many men who have consulted with their physicians about their ED after a heart attack, had erection problems two to three years before their cardiac event. This warning sign goes largely ignored by their doctors.

Even though ED is a prime indicator for heart disease, it is most commonly recognized as a recreational problem rather than a warning sign of something more serious.

Smoking in combination with erectile dysfunction is not necessarily an indicator that Viagra is needed. It is however an indication that blood tests and other analyzing may be needed to be performed by a healthcare professional in order to ensure there isn't something more serious at work. - 30540

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