Recently, my girlfriend and I have noticed that I’ve had trouble ‘performing’ in the bedroom, even if I haven’t been drinking. I thought these problems only happened to older people, but I heard that Juuling can cause problems with erections. Is this true?
Sincerely, Vape Lord
Dear Vape Lord,
Thank you for reaching out! Difficulty getting aroused and/or maintaining an erection can be a frustrating and embarrassing problem for many people, so there is nothing to be ashamed of. Luckily, for young people, this is often a fixable problem, too!
An erection occurs when hormone stimuli trigger blood flow into the spongy tissue of the penis. Thus, anything that interferes with these hormones or the blood flow can cause problems getting or maintaining an erection, otherwise known as erectile dysfunction, or ED. In young people, ED can be related to a variety of environmental causes, such as an unhealthy diet, medications, lack of sleep and exercise, and stress. It can also be due to the effects from chemicals or substances, as you note, including alcohol or other drugs.
Vaping – especially using a Juul device or ‘Juuling’ – is becoming increasingly popular because it is thought to be healthier than traditional cigarettes and often comes in a variety of flavors. However, vaping involves the ingestion of an aerosol that frequently contains nicotine and other chemicals and can be highly addictive. Most people do not believe that Juuls or other e-cigarettes contain nicotine, but in fact, a single Juul pod has the equivalent of twenty cigarettes’ worth of nicotine.
Nicotine alone has been shown to reduce sexual arousal in men and long-term studies reveal that the intensity of cigarette usage is correlated with greater degree of erectile dysfunction. Nicotine is a vasoconstrictor, meaning that it causes blood vessels to narrow and blood flow to be reduced. Since increased blood flow to the penis is what causes an erection, decreased blood flow creates more difficulty getting or maintaining them. As long as nothing else has changed in your lifestyle and your stress levels have remained constant, it is possible that excessive nicotine consumption could be causing your ED.
This vasoconstriction can even cause permanent blood-vessel damage with prolonged, heavy use. As scary as ‘permanent damage’ sounds, there is good news! After smoking cessation, ED status improves quickly and significantly, especially in young people. Luckily, if your problem is nicotine-related, it will likely clear up if your nicotine consumption is curbed. If your ED persists, seeing a medical professional might be in order to discuss possible hormonal or lifestyle-related concerns. McCosh Health Center has Sexual Health and Wellness (SHAW) providers who would be able to help you get a diagnosis and treatment.
If you are a regular e-cigarette-user and have had problems with erections, it is definitely worth curbing your use to see if that nicotine consumption could be the root of your ED – it could be a simple and easy solution with the bonus of other health benefits, too.
– The Sexpert