Erectile dysfunction (ED), or impotence, is so profoundly connected to manhood in current times that many men find it embarrassing to approach doctors. Even though most men have encountered some problems in their sexual lives, ED becomes a probable diagnosis when one cannot maintain an erection on several occasions.
Medical research warrants that there are plenty of causes for Erectile Dysfunction. However, it has been heavily linked to smoking and, in particular, menthol cigarettes for a long time. In fact, there is vast conjecture about how smoking menthol cigarettes can lead to shrinkage of a penis.
But, is there any truth to such allegations against menthol cigarettes?
What's the Relation Between Smoking and Impotence?
Erection in a male body is a response to arousal signals sent by the brain. These signals expand the arteries inside a penis to respond to the increased blood supply to soft tissues -corpus cavanosum- inside the penis, making the organ erect and big. When these blood arteries get damaged, they experience a reduced blood flow, causing an inability to attain and even retain an erection.
Smokers can experience reduced arterial blood flow even from damage caused by smoking cigars, cigarettes and even pipe tobaccos. One of the main reasons for this to happen is ‘nicotine’. It is a known vasoconstrictor, i.e. a chemical that reduces blood flow to arteries throughout the body.
Smoking Cigarettes Hinders Natural Bodily Processes (Obviously)
The results of reduced blood flow due to smoking or exposure to smoke can leave you unable to attain an erection, achieve partial erections or, in some cases, have no physical reaction to arousal at all.
For those who worry, hope for curing erectile dysfunction caused by smoking isn’t lost. In a study conducted in 2004, both ex-smoker and smokers with ED were assessed for their symptoms during a year. Ex-smokers showed remarkable improvement, with 25% of participants showing a reduction in ED symptoms.
The Dark (Or Light) Air Around Menthol Cigarettes
Menthol cigarettes were introduced in markets around the 1920s. The marketing for introducing this new product took an exciting turn. Advertisement and posters released used the imagery of ‘nature, spring, waterfalls and fresh outdoors’.
The whole image was designed to promote less harm and emphasising the cool, refreshing taste. All advertisements back then also claimed that these cigarettes were safer, less harmful to the smoker’s health. Since then, they are considered as apt cigarettes for beginner smokers as well.
Today, most beginner smokers prefer menthol cigarettes as it masks the harshness and health perils of tobacco. A study found that menthol smokers consume about 43 cigarettes a week on an average, which is double the average amount smoked by non-menthol smokers.
Because of a perceived image of menthol smoking being healthy than the usual, it attracts a large portion of smokers than other cigarettes.
Manufacturing of Menthol Cigarettes
Contrary to popular belief, a menthol cigarette’s manufacturing process is typically the same as a regular cigarette. Only menthol or a derivative is added to the cigarette on one or several occasions during the manufacturing process.
A recent innovation has been to add a small capsule near the filter, which can be broken to release additional menthol flavour. Usually, the average menthol content in these cigarettes is anywhere between 0.8% to 20%. In other words, it is a regular cigarette with some menthol content here and there.
Ban On Menthol Cigarettes Around The World
There haven’t been many studies that show the correlation between menthol cigarettes and impotence. However, plenty of researchers and health consultants have long believed that menthol cigarettes are harder to quit and more comfortable to smoke, therefore posing a greater risk to the general health of the population.
Countries like Canada, the United States and Brazil have attempted at bringing up legislation that can ban menthol cigarettes. While Canada and Brazil were early to hop on the bandwagon, the European Union decided to ban all menthol cigarettes very recently. The legislation to ban menthol cigarettes came in effect on May 20, 2020.
No Direct Link Between Menthol Cigarettes and Impotence
There is no correlation between menthol cigarettes and erectile dysfunction — but smoking in itself is harmful to life. No matter if the brain processes are working fine, if the chemicals from cigarettes damage the blood vessels, the penis would not be able to attain an erection, which will create a risk for erectile dysfunction.
A leading urologist, Dr George Lee, dispels such myths often in his consultations. He says that correlations between menthol cigarettes and male sterility are merely just a myth. According to him, smoking any cigarette reduces the sperm count by 23% and the sperm mortality rate decreases to 13%.
So, menthol or not, erectile dysfunction is a by-product of smoking as it is. It is time that menthol cigarettes alone are emancipated from the burden of causing erectile dysfunction.