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Erectile Dysfunction: How to Quit Smoking

If you smoke, it's always a good time to quit. Smoking can cause cancer, heart disease, and emphysema. Smoking can also cause vascular disease and inhibit circulation. This is especially relevant to men who have erectile dysfunction (ED), because proper circulation to all areas of the body, including the genitals, is important to achieve and maintain an erection. Men who smoke are about twice as likely to develop ED than nonsmokers. 

The good news is that once you quit smoking, your health starts to improve immediately. Your blood pressure decreases, your chance of a heart attack goes down, and circulation begins to improve within two to 12 weeks.

If you are a smoker and want to quit, here are some tips to get started:

  • Pick a date to quit and then prepare for the date. Remove all cigarettes, ashtrays, matches, and lighters from your home, office, and car.
  • If you smoke more than nine cigarettes a day, ask your doctor about medications that can help you quit smoking.
  • When you have an urge to smoke, tell yourself, "Smoking is no longer an option," and engage in a different activity to distract yourself.
  • Alter your routines. Try to avoid people or situations that make you want to smoke.
  • Seek the support of family, friends, and coworkers. Tell everyone who is around you that you are going to stop smoking.
  • Spend time doing relaxing activities to reduce stress.
  • Exercise.
  • Spend more of your time in places that do not permit smoking.
  • Keep a plentiful supply of low-calorie snacks available.
  • Remind yourself of the benefits of not smoking, including improved sexual function.

You may have some withdrawal symptoms, but these usually last less than two weeks. There will also be some difficult urges that you will successfully deal with. Some people do gain weight when they quit, but you can maintain your weight by getting regular exercise and limiting the amount of fat in your diet.

Smoking Cessation Aids

There are several different types of smoking cessation aids to help you quit smoking -- nicotine gum, patches, nasal spray, inhalers, lozenges, and non-nicotine drugs. Talk to your doctor to find out which is the best for you.

  • Nicotine gum (Nicorette; Nicorette DS): A box of 48 pieces costs approximately $30. The smoker chews one piece of gum every one to two hours, to a maximum of 24 pieces a day.
  • Nicotine patches (Habitrol, Nicoderm CQ, and Nicotrol): The patches are sold in 1-2 week boxes at a cost of approximately $30 per week. They are applied directly to the skin once a day. Habitrol and Nicoderm are available in 21mg, 14mg, and 7mg patches. Nicotrol comes in a 15mg, 10mg, and 5mg patch and is intended for daytime use only.
  • Nicotine lozenges (Commit): The lozenges come in 2mg and 4mg strengths. Treatment usually lasts approximately 12 weeks. The smoker uses one lozenge every 1-2 hours for the first six weeks, one every 2-4 hours during weeks 7-9, and one every 4-8 hours during weeks 10-12. The cost ranges from approximately $6 a day (for 12 doses) to $12 a day for the maximum dosage (20 doses).
  • Nicotine nasal spray (Nicotrol NS): The spray is available only by prescription. It delivers nicotine rapidly to the blood stream. A dose is one spray in each nostril. The recommended dosing is 1-2 doses every hour.
  • Nicotine inhaler (Nicotrol Inhaler): Also available only by prescription. The inhaler cartridge mimics the hand-to-mouth routine of cigarette smoking. The nicotine released from the inhaler is absorbed in the mouth. The initial dosage is six to 16 cartridges per day for up to 12 weeks.
  • Non-nicotine drugs: Bupropion (Zyban) is the only FDA-approved non-nicotine drug for smoking cessation. The smoker should start taking the drug one to two weeks before his or her quit date, and will take the drug for approximately 7-12 weeks.

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