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The connection between smoking and erectile dysfunction, also known as impotence, is related to a problem known as atherosclerosis. This condition is often a result of long-term smoking, and it causes plaque buildup inside the arteries. Atherosclerosis can also cause erectile dysfunction, because the plaque buildup restricts the blood flow through the arteries. When blood flow is restricted to the penis, a man typically has difficulty getting an erection. Studies indicate that smoking and erectile dysfunction go hand in hand, particularly for men who have been smoking for many years.
Studies examining the link between smoking and erectile dysfunction indicate that men who smoke have more than double the risk of experiencing erectile dysfunction than men who have never smoked. Additionally, the risk seemed to go up if a man started smoking at a very early age. The studies also showed that men who were former smokers typically had more problems with erectile dysfunction than those who did not smoke, which indicates that quitting smoking may not completely reverse the problem. There were very few men in the study who had never smoked who had any problems with erectile dysfunction.
Another thing that scientists have discovered regarding smoking and erectile dysfunction is that many popular medicines, both prescription and non-prescription, do not seem to correct erectile dysfunction caused by smoking. The medicines typically work well with non-smoking men who experience erectile dysfunction. The reason these medicines tend to be ineffective might be because some of the damage done by smoking is irreversible, whereas other medical problems resulting in erectile dysfunction can occasionally be managed. There may be a greater chance that the medicines will work when a person quits smoking, although he may still have occasional problems with impotence for the rest of his life.
There is still a good chance that a man will have impotence problems that resulted from smoking even after he quits, and the chances of this are usually greater the longer he has smoked. There also seems to be a connection between erectile dysfunction and the age a man is when he starts smoking. Men who start smoking younger are normally more likely to suffer from erectile dysfunction than those who start when they are older, although impotence is still a possibility at any age. A man who is concerned about smoking and erectile dysfunction should probably stop smoking as soon as possible to keep his problem from getting any worse.