Men who vape or use e-cigarettes are more than twice as likely to suffer from erectile dysfunction, a new study has suggested.
American researchers surveyed nearly 14,000 men over the age of 20 and found those who used the devices had a 2.4 times higher chance of impotence than non-smokers.
While the study did not prove the link, the experts believe a high level of nicotine in vaping liquid reduces blood flow to the penis by hampering the ability of blood vessels to dilate.
And even fluids without nicotine contain chemicals that may reduce the amount of testosterone circulating in the body, researchers say.
The team, from New York’s Grossman School of Medicine and Johns Hopkins University, said men should be warned about the potential impact vaping could have on their love life — as England gets ready to become the first country in the world to prescribe e-cigarettes to help smokers quit.
About one in five men in the UK and US are believed to suffer from impotence and with it becoming more common as men age, with over half of cases in the over 50s.
Men who use e-cigarettes or vapes could be twice as likely to have problems getting or maintaining an erection according to a new study (stock image)
Traditional smoking has been long established as cause of erectile dysfunction due to the chemicals contained in tobacco products, such as nicotine, damaging the blood vessels connected to the penis.
While vaping is generally considered healthier than traditional smoking scientists have recently been exploring a possible relation between the sexual health problems and e-cigarette products.
WHAT IS IMPOTENCE?
Erectile dysfunction, also known as impotence, is when a man is unable to get or maintain an erection.
It is more common in the over-40s but affects men of all ages.
Failure to stay erect is usually due to tiredness, stress, anxiety or alcohol, and is not a cause for concern.
However, it can be a sign of an underlying medical condition such as high blood pressure or cholesterol, side effects of medication, or hormonal issues.
Lifestyle factors than can affect the condition include obesity, smoking, cycling too much, drinking too much, and stress.
Source: NHS Choices
Lead author of the latest study, Dr Omar El Shahawyl, said the findings indicated that, vapers were more likely to suffer erection problems than non-vapers, even considering previous smoking history.
‘Our analyses accounted for the cigarette smoking history of participants, including those who were never cigarette smokers to begin with, so it is possible that daily e-cigarette vaping may be associated with higher odds of erectile dysfunction regardless of one’s smoking history,’ he said.
With vaping on the rise as a healthier alternative to smoking, Dr Shahawyl said more research was needed to explore any potential consequences on men’s sexual health.
‘We need to fully investigate the relationship between vaping products and erectile dysfunction, and potential implications for men’s sexual health,’ he said.
‘Our findings underscore the need to conduct further studies to contextualize the e-cigarette use pattern that is relatively safer than smoking.’
The research was based on the a survey, with the 13,711 original participants later narrowed down to 11,207 with no prior cardiovascular disease diagnosis.
In both groups men who used e-cigarette products were twice as likely to experience erectile dysfunction, 2.2 times more likely in the larger sample size and rising to 2.4 times as likely in the sample without cardiovascular disease.
Almost half of all participants were former cigarette smokers, 21 per cent were current cigarette smokers, and 14 percent used vapes and e-cigarettes.
In total, 10 per cent of all men in the sample reported experiencing erectile dysfunction.
One limitation of the study was that it based on self-reporting meaning that the results may be influenced by men lying on the questionnaire.
The authors also did not state whether the risk erectile dysfunction for people who use vapes and e-cigarettes was higher or lower than that of traditional smoking.
The researchers, who published their findings in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine said they next plan to examine if different types of electronic nicotine delivery devices have differing affects on erectile dysfunction and if it can be reversed by stopping.
Vaping damages DNA and raises risk of cancer study claims — but it’s not as bad as traditional smoking
Vaping damages people’s DNA in the same way as smoking normal cigarettes — but to a lesser degree — a study warned today.
These biological changes can cause diseases such as cancer, according to the University of Southern California study.
Vaping has been viewed as a safer alternative to smoking, with the UK mulling plans to prescribe e-cigarettes to cigarette users to help them quit.
There have been several studies that suggests e-cigarettes are harmful, but many questioned whether smoking was still to blame since most vapers also smoke traditional cigarettes or have a prior history of smoking.
But a team of researchers at the University of Southern California found that these biological changes happen even in vapers who’ve never touched a cigarette.
However, the changes are much more extensive in people who smoke tobacco products, the scientists said.
Laws restricting what manufacturers are allowed to put in vapes are stricter in the UK than the US, so the American study may not entirely reflect effects of E-cigarettes available on the British market.
The study looked at 82 healthy adults split them into three categories — current vapers, people who only smoke cigarettes and a control group who had never smoked or vaped.
They then analysed the genes of all paricipants and looked for changes in gene regulation in the blood cells of each participant.
When the normal regulation of genes is disrupted it can interfere to gene function, leading to disease.
Reacting to the study consultant uro-andrologist Giulio Garaffa of private health clinic International Andrology in London said the study’s findings made sense.
‘The idea of e-cigarette use negatively impacting men’s ability to get erections does have a foundation,’ he said.
However Dr Garaffa said any damage caused by e-cigarettes and vapes, is both likely to be reversible and less than that caused traditional smoking due to the absence of substances like tar and carbon monoxide.
‘Nicotine has an immediate, short term vasoconstrictor effect, and therefore it may reduce the blood flow to the penis and may impact negatively the ability of getting an erection,’ he said.
‘With time the vasoconstrictor effect of nicotine disappears with no long term damage to erections.
‘Instead, the chemicals inhaled by tobacco smokers, will also cause long term damage to the vessels of the cardiocirculatory system thus causing long term worsening of the erections on top of the short term effects of nicotine.’
But he added it was the duty of all clinicians to inform patients of the risk of erectile dysfunction in vaping products.
Dr Garaffa also urged all patients to contact a health professional if they are suffering from erectile dysfunction as it can be a warning sign of a cardiovascular disease.
Last month it was announced England is set to become the first country in the world to prescribe e-cigarettes to help smokers quit.
Despite a torrent of evidence on the health risks of vaping, the medical regulator is to ‘pave the way’ for it to be offered on the NHS.
Manufacturers will be able to submit e-cigarettes to the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency to undergo the same ‘approvals process’ as other medicines.
This means they could then be licensed as a medical product and prescribed by doctors on a case-by-case basis to people who want to quit traditional cigarettes.
Currently, the NHS advises that vaping can help smokers – though it is not available on prescription.
E-cig devices typically cost around £20 to £30, plus more for replacement cartridges.
The controversial move comes despite the World Health Organization saying last year that the devices are ‘undoubtedly harmful’.
Some 3million Britons use vapes at present, more than triple the 700,000 nearly a decade ago.
What is an e-cigarette and how is it different to smoking tobacco?
An electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) is a device that allows users to inhale nicotine by heating a vapour from a solution that contain nicotine, propylene and flavourings.
As there is no burning involved, there is no smoke like a traditional cigarette.
But while they have been branded as carrying a lower risk than cigarettes, an increasing swell of studies is showing health dangers.
E-cigarettes do not produce tar or carbon monoxide, but the vapor does contain some harmful chemicals.
Nicotine is the highly addictive chemical which makes it difficult for smokers to quit.
Nearly three million people in Britain use e-cigarettes, and more than nine million Americans.
1. Standard e-cigarette
Battery-powered device containing nicotine e-liquid.
It vaporizes flavored nicotine liquid.
Very similar to normal e-cigarettes but with sleeker design and, in the US, a higher concentration of nicotine. In the UK and EU limited to 20 mg/ml.
Thanks to its ‘nicotine salts’, manufacturers claim one pod delivers the amount of nicotine as a pack of cigarettes.
It is composed of an e-cigarette (battery and temperature control), and a pod of e-liquid which is inserted at the end.
The liquid contains nicotine, chemicals and flavorings.
Like other vaping devices, it vaporizes the e-liquid.
3. IQOS by Philip Morris
Pen-shaped, charged like an iPod.
It is known as a ‘heat not burn’ smokeless device, heating tobacco but not burning it (at 350C compared to 600C as normal cigarettes do).
The company claims this method lowers users’ exposure to carcinogen from burning tobacco.