If you smoke and you’re concerned about erectile dysfunction (ED), there’s no better time to quit than now.
Men who smoke are about twice as likely to develop ED as nonsmokers. Smoking hampers circulation to all areas of the body, including the genitals, making it tougher to get and keep an erection.
Once you quit smoking, your health starts to improve immediately. Your blood pressure improves. Your chance of a heart attack goes down. Most importantly for ED prevention, your circulation begins to improve within 2 to 12 weeks.
How do you quit? Here are some tips to get you 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 do something to distract yourself.
- Change your routines. Try to avoid people or situations that make you want to smoke.
- Seek the support of family, friends, and co-workers. Tell everyone around you that you’re going to stop smoking.
- Spend time doing relaxing activities to reduce stress.
- Spend more of your time in places that don’t permit smoking.
- Keep plenty of low-calorie snacks handy.
- Remind yourself of the benefits of not smoking, including improved sexual function.
You may have some withdrawal symptoms, but these usually last less than 2 weeks.
There will also be some difficult urges that you will successfully deal with.
Some people 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 things out there to help you quit smoking:
- Nicotine gum: A box of 48 pieces cost about $30. You chew one piece of gum every 1 to 2 hours, but no more than 24 pieces a day.
- Nicotine patches: The patches are sold in 1-2 week boxes that cost about $30 per week. You apply them directly to your skin once a day. You should only use these in the daytime.
- Nicotine lozenges: Treatment usually lasts about 12 weeks. You’ll use one lozenge every 1-2 hours for the first 6 weeks, one every 2-4 hours during weeks 7-9, and one every 4-8 hours during weeks 10-12. They cost between $6 a day (for 12 doses) and $12 a day (for 20 doses).
- Nicotine nasal spray: Talk with your doctor about these. It’s available only by prescription. The spray delivers nicotine to your bloodstream quickly. You give yourself one spray in each nostril once or twice an hour.
- Nicotine inhaler: This is also available only by prescription. The cartridges mimic the hand-to-mouth routine of cigarette smoking. The nicotine released from the inhaler is absorbed in the mouth. Your first dosage would be six to 16 cartridges per day for up to 12 weeks.
- Non-nicotine drugs: Bupropion (Zyban) is the only FDA-approved drug to help you quit smoking that doesn’t contain nicotine. You should start taking this a week or two before your quit date. You’ll take it for 7-12 weeks.
Talk to your doctor to find out if one of these aids is right for you.