Does smoking affect my sexual performance?

Ian Kerner, PhD
Sexual Health
In men and women, smoking leads to a loss of sexual desire and arousal. It also damages the arteries affecting blood flow to the genitals.
Madeleine M. Castellanos, MD
Before cigarettes kill you for good, they will first kill your sex life. Cigarettes can be just as fatal to your sex life due to the components found in the smoke itself, and especially the active ingredient nicotine and its effects on blood flow. In fact, smokers are about twice as likely to develop erectile dysfunction than non-smokers. The World Health Organization estimates that about 1.5 billion people throughout the world smoke cigarettes, with more than 46 million of these in the U.S. alone. No surprise then that nearly 40 million Americans identify themselves as being stuck in sexless marriages -- how many of these people are smokers?
Smoking definitely has a negative impact on your sexual performance. For years, studies have shown that smoking cigarettes causes erectile dysfunction due to poor blood flow to the penis. Not only does smoking cause impotence, but the severity of the problem is directly correlated with the number of cigarettes smoked. Also, impaired performance eventually leads to diminished desire and when these two are combined your overall satisfaction is likely to suffer. Men aren’t the only ones affected as women have adverse sexual effects from smoking as well. Besides performance, smoking also increases your chances of infertility in both men and women. If you’ve been waiting for a better reason than your health to quit smoking, then maybe a better sex life will do the trick.
Not only is quitting smoking one of the most important things you can do for your cardiovascular health, it can also be of benefit to your sexual health. Nicotine in cigarettes affects hormonal balance, including testosterone, and can decrease sexual desire and cause impotence (the inability to maintain an erection). If you smoke (or use any form of smokeless tobacco) and wish to quit, speak with your physician about how you can get started or try again if you have tried unsuccessfully to quit in the past.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.