Men who use e-cigarettes are more than twice as likely to experience erectile dysfunction compared to those who don’t vape, according to a study published Wednesday in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
In the first effort to study the relationship between vaping and sexual health, researchers analyzed self-reported data from more than 13,000 men aged 20 and older surveyed in the national Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health Study.
Those who reported daily e-cig use were 2.2 times more likely to report having erectile dysfunction compared to men who had never vaped, regardless of their other risk factors.
In a smaller sample of men younger than 65 with normal BMIs and no history of cardiovascular disease, the trend persisted: vapers were 2.4 times more likely to experience ED compared to non-vapers.
While some may view vaping as a healthier alternative to cigarettes, consuming nicotine in excess will always come with risks, lead author Omar El Shahawy, MD, told Insider.
“Overall, e-cigarettes are likely less harmful than smoking cigarettes to the degree that they substitute cigarette smoking,” El Shahawy, assistant professor in the Department of Population Health at NYU Langone, wrote in an email to Insider.
“For men who smoke and want to switch because vaping is less harmful, they should try to limit their vaping because it is simply not risk free,” he added.
Rates of ED may be higher than they appear
Erectile dysfunction impacts about one in five men over the age of 20 in the US, according to the study’s estimate. But the authors recognized that there could be bias in the self-reported data for both rates of vaping and ED.
The survey also did not include data on whether the respondents were taking any medications that can increase the risk of ED, such as antidepressants or beta blockers.
Smoking cigarettes has long been linked to sexual dysfunction in both men and women, potentially because consistent exposure to high nicotine levels can impair blood vessel function, El Shahawy explained.
Considering that many newer generation e-cigs have particularly high nicotine concentrations, using them frequently could cause a similar effect.