Smoking cigarettes can affect a person’s libido, sexual performance, and fertility. People who smoke e-cigarettes, cigars, and other tobacco products are also likely to experience similar detrimental effects.
This article explains how smoking tobacco affects a person’s sex life and looks at the benefits of quitting smoking.
A note about sex and gender
Sex and gender exist on spectrums. This article will use the terms “male,” “female,” or both to refer to sex assigned at birth. Click here to learn more.
According to the American Lung Association (ALA), there are around 600 different ingredients in cigarettes, many of which are toxic.
When a person inhales cigarette smoke, they ingest chemicals such as ammonia, carbon monoxide, and hydrogen cyanide.
Aside from this, smoking also has detrimental effects on a person’s sexual function and fertility. The
A 2018 study published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine explains that sexual dysfunction can affect anyone. Researchers associate sexual dysfunction with relationship difficulties and reduced quality of life.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that around
This is because smoking can damage blood vessels, leading to reduced blood flow to the penis.
Libido describes a person’s desire for sexual activity. People also refer to it as sex drive. Smoking may negatively affect a male’s libido.
The health difficulties that experts
Heart disease, cardiovascular disease, respiratory diseases, and other smoking-related health problems can affect a person’s ability to be physically active. This can include the physical activity needed for sexual intercourse.
People with COPD experience shortness of breath and reduced stamina when physically active. They may need to experiment with less challenging sexual positions or plan intimacy for times when they are well-rested.
Low sperm count
According to a 2019 study, published in the journal Frontiers in Physiology, smoking significantly decreases a male’s sperm count.
Females who smoke may also have issues with sexual activity. And they may have difficulty getting pregnant, according to the
If smoking restricts blood flow to the genital area, it can reduce sensations of arousal. Some people may also find it difficult to achieve orgasm.
There is mixed evidence as to whether smoking can reduce a female’s libido.
According to a
However, the study also found that nicotine dependence correlated to lower sex drives in females.
Fertility issues and pregnancy complications
Smoking is linked to fertility issues, according to the
Smoking while pregnant increases the health risks to the pregnant individual and the unborn fetus. These include:
Children born to those who smoked during their pregnancy are also more likely to be born with a cleft palate or lip.
Sexual dysfunction involves a pattern of behavior, over time, that causes the person distress.
Although sexual dysfunction can be a result of smoking and its related health issues, it can result from other causes, such as mental health conditions.
Some signs of sexual dysfunction may include:
- having a low desire for sex that causes emotional distress
- not being able to respond to sexual stimuli, despite wanting to
- being unable to achieve orgasm
A person should speak with a doctor if they are concerned about their sex life. A doctor may be able to recommend medical and therapeutic treatments.
Learn more about sexual dysfunction in males and females and how to treat it.
According to the ALA, anyone wanting to quit smoking cigarettes should talk with a healthcare professional.
They may recommend medications to help people quit and direct a person toward local resources, including support groups.
Doctors can also help people with sexual dysfunction. A person should talk with a healthcare professional if problems are causing them distress.
Sexual dysfunction is a blanket term covering different types of disorders that prevent a person’s enjoyment of sexual activity.
Most doctors also recommend lifestyle changes, including quitting smoking, becoming more physically active, and limiting alcohol consumption.
If a person continues to smoke, any sexual issues that result from smoking will likely remain and could worsen over time.
The health benefits of quitting smoking are well-documented. The
The researchers reported that quitting smoking may improve male sexual health.
The experience of quitting smoking is different for every person, but there are also some common traits. Knowing what to expect can help people overcome cravings and manage mood swings.
- taking medications that help with quitting
- avoiding triggers for cravings, such as drinking alcohol or spending time with smokers
- regularly thinking about the reasons for quitting
- limiting activities that require strong concentration in the first few days of quitting
- engaging in physical activity as a healthy distraction
Learn more about quitting smoking.
Here are the answers to some frequently asked questions about smoking and sexual health.
Does smoking make you less sexually active?
Yes, smoking can negatively affect a person’s reproductive health and hormone production, according to the
Females who smoke may experience a drop in libido, as smoking
However, there is mixed evidence. A
Despite this, they also found that females with nicotine dependence generally had lower sex drives.
Does quitting smoking give you harder erections?
Yes, it can. The
Smoking can restrict blood vessels in the penis, interfering with the blood supply. Men need a healthy blood supply to their genitals to achieve a firm erection.
Smoking can be detrimental to a person’s sex life. It can affect their fertility, libido, performance, and sexual enjoyment.
Sexual dysfunction is common among both males and females and can lead to tension and relationship issues if not addressed.
Quitting smoking increases a person’s chances of conceiving a child, overcoming erectile dysfunction, and enjoying painless intercourse.