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As a man it’s normal to have trouble initiating or maintaining an erection hard enough to have sex every now and then. The perfect conditions for solo or partnered sex won’t always align, and that’s completely fine. But, when that difficulty in developing or maintaining an erection repetitively occurs over a prolonged time, a diagnosis of erectile dysfunction becomes a real possibility.

To give your penis the best shot at a healthy sex life, familiarise yourself with the things that can impact erectile dysfunction. You never know how your daily habits are contributing towards the wellbeing of your southern pride of joy.


A recent study of more than 13,000 men over the age of 20 suggests that daily vapers are 2.2 times more likely to experience erectile dysfunction in comparison to men who had never vaped. The link between vaping and an increased risk of impotence is caused by the nicotine and other chemicals in vapes inhibiting the dilating ability of the arteries in the penis. And that’s a key stage in the formation of an erection. Chemicals in vapes can also depress testosterone levels, which is another leading cause of erectile dysfunction.

Cigarette smoking

Nicotine, a key ingredient in cigarettes, has proven to reduce sexual arousal in men, with a direct correlation between the intensity of cigarette smoking and likelihood of ED. The nicotine inhaled during cigarette smoking causes blood vessels to narrow and blood flow to the area of the penis to become restricted. Since a healthy blood flow is the driving force to develop and sustain an erection, this is how cigarette smoking impacts erectile dysfunction in men.


Erectile dysfunction is very prevalent in men with diabetes, especially when the condition is not well-controlled. For men with diabetes, ED can stem from damage to the nerves and circulation that controls blood flow to the penis. Erectile dysfunction is so common in men with diabetes that impotence is often the preceding symptom many men initially see their doctor for, prior to being diagnosed with diabetes.

Illicit drug use

Despite ‘party drugs’ having a reputation for being aphrodisiacs, illicit drugs can increase the risk of erectile dysfunction, decreased sexual desire and increased ejaculation latency. This is particularly true for heroin, followed by cocaine, amphetamine and MDMA mono usage.

Psychological Issues

The development of an erection begins when the brain triggers a series of physical events based on feelings of sexual excitement. Several psychological and emotional factors can therefore interfere with sexual feelings and make erectile dysfunction worse, including:

  • Fear of sexual failure
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Guilt about sexual performance
  • Shame surrounding certain sexual activities
  • Low self-esteem
  • Stress, general or sexually related


Erectile dysfunction can be a side effect of some medications, and certain medications can affect blood flow, which can impact a healthy erection. Some of these include:

Even if you experience erectile dysfunction, you should never stop taking prescribed medications without your doctor’s approval.

Medical Conditions

The following diseases and conditions can increase the risk of erectile dysfunction:

This guide is designed to be informative and educational. It is not intended to provide specific medical advice or replace advice from your medical practitioner.