How Does Smoking Cause Impotence?

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Impotence in males can be caused by a variety of factors, including cigarette smoke that damages blood vessels that supply the penis with a flow of blood. Learn about the substantial risk of impotence in men who smoke with help from a pulmonary disease research expert in this free video on the effects of smoking.

Part of the Video Series: Effects of Smoking
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Video Transcript

Hello. I am Dr. Davis Burns. I am a professor emeritus at the University California San Diego School of Medicine. Impotence is one of the important consequences of cigarette smoking for males. The impotence is caused by a variety of factors, but one of them is damage to the blood vessels that actually supply the penis with blood flow and allow it to become erect. When you narrow those blood vessels you make it much more difficult for enough blood to come into the penis to allow it to become fully erect. That can cause impotence or the failure of the male to get an erection. That obviously has very important consequences for males, but also can be important for their partners as well. The risk of impotence in men who smoke cigarettes is quite substantial. It may also be caused by factors other than simply blockage of the arteries. It can be caused by the affects of cigarette smoking on the ability of those blood vessels to vasodilate by damaging the lining of those blood vessels and their ability to expand or contract to allow increased blood flow to occur. So, one of the more important psychological effects is that impotence provides a very important and very dramatic consequence for males who are cigarette smokers and therefore provides an important reason for them to stop smoking.

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