Last updated:

November 4, 2022


 min read

Can smoking or drinking cause ED?

It’s no secret that smoking and/or excessive consumption of alcohol are harmful to health. In popular media, the two are often associated with sex and having a fun time. But what many of us don’t realize is that the effect of smoking and drinking on sexual performance is far from positive. While they certainly make it easier to let go of inhibitions and enjoy the moment, smoking and drinking have been known to increase the chances of Erectile Dysfunction (ED).

Reviewed by
Written by
Paridhi Gupta

What is ED and how is it caused?

Erectile dysfunction is one of the most common sexual disorders in people with penises. People with ED find it difficult to get or maintain an erection despite being aroused, which can often lead to unsatisfactory sexual experiences for them and their partner(s). While it is perfectly normal for most people with a penis to struggle with maintaining erections every now and then, a consistent pattern of weak erection might point to ED.

It is difficult to pinpoint a single cause behind ED. It can be caused due to physiological issues such as diabetes, hypertension, or ageing. Often, psychological factors such as stress, performance anxiety, low self-esteem, or traumatic sexual experiences also play a role in the loss of erection. You can read more about the signs and causes of ED here.

How do smoking and drinking affect ED?

While a moderate amount of alcohol helps calm the nerves and makes one feel more confident, too much alcohol acts as a depressant and can cause weak erections. It reduces sex drive and affects one’s ability to maintain an erection. Not to forget, drinking too much affects muscle coordination and alertness. This makes it difficult for people to enjoy sex as much as they would have if they were sober. 

Occasional overdrinking can lead to temporary ED, which goes away by the time all the alcohol makes its way out of the bloodstream. A possible reason behind this could be that too much alcohol can reduce the blood flow to the penis, which can be a cause of weak erection.

However, drinking too much and too frequently is known to cause erectile dysfunction in 60-70% of men, along with various other sexual problems like premature ejaculation and loss of libido. Studies have found that sober people could maintain erections more easily than people who were too drunk.

Smoking, in addition, further increases the chances of ED. Research shows that drinking more than the advisable amount regularly and frequent smoking can lead to poor sexual performance and lower satisfaction for the people involved. 

Smoking is known to disturb healthy blood flow. The nicotine in cigarettes builds up plaque in the arteries, which can block blood flow to various organs, including the penis. It was once believed that ED only occurs in people over the age of 40-50, but excessive smoking has been found to cause ED in people as young as 20 years of age. Tobacco consumption not only reduces libido but also negatively affects fertility levels by deteriorating the quality of sperm.

Research suggests that smoking more than 10 cigarettes a day can significantly increase the chances of ED, and the effects are generally irreversible, even if you do stop smoking later in life. Smokers are twice as likely to have ED compared to the ones who do not smoke.

Need help?

Like most things, moderation is key to maintaining a healthy relationship between smoking/alcohol consumption and erectile dysfunction. Consuming alcohol only occasionally and controlling the frequency of smoking can help reduce the occurrence of ED. However, it is always best to consult a professional to rule out any underlying diseases or comorbidities. 

Almost 50% of individuals with penises experience erectile dysfunction; if you are one of them, don't worry! It can be cured and is definitely not the end of your sex life. If you suspect what you are experiencing is not occasional weak erections but erectile dysfunction, consult an online doctor for ED. 

At Rocket Health, we match you with an expert who is non-judgmental and can guide you in the best possible way. By adopting healthier lifestyle habits and seeking the right treatment, you can easily overcome ED. 

References 3 ways tobacco use impacts your sex life. (2018, August 21). Truth Initiative. Iliades, C. (2012, January 4). Why Boozing Can Be Bad For Your Sex Life. Everyday Health. Kovac, J. R., Labbate, C., Ramasamy, R., Tang, D., & Lipshultz, L. I. (2015). Effects of cigarette smoking on erectile dysfunction. Andrologia, 47(10), 1087–1092. Lee, A. C., Ho, L. M., Yip, A. W., Fan, S., & Lam, T. H. (2010). The effect of alcohol drinking on erectile dysfunction in Chinese men. International journal of impotence research, 22(4), 272–278.