Smoking And Sexual Health

The effects of smoking on overall health are fairly well known. But specific links exist between smoking, sexual health and the enjoyment a person derives from sexual activity. The negative effects of smoking may impact both fertility and the health of a smoker’s reproductive system. The problems of sex and smoking may also be behavioral. Learn how smoking, sexual dysfunction and reduced sexual satisfaction may be connected.

Smoking, Sexual Health and Fertility

The effects of smoking on fertility and the health of the reproductive system differ in men and women.

In women, smoking may alter the body’s concentrations of hormones including vasopressin, epinephrine and estrogen. This can lower fertility and increase the risk of cancer and fallopian tube alterations. If you smoke and take a hormonal form of contraception–such as the pill or the patch–you’re at greater risk of hormonal complications and even heart attacks, due to the increased risk of clot formation. Before choosing these methods of contraception, tell your doctor that you smoke.

The links between sex and smoking for men include elevated risk of cancers of the reproductive system. Male smokers also experience fertility problems, as smoking may lower the quality, motility and overall numbers of functional sperm.

Both men and women may cause problems for an unborn fetus if they smoke. Women who smoke while pregnant have greater chances of premature birth and low birth weight, while male smokers increase the risk of genetic abnormalities.

Smoking, Sexual Health and Sexual Satisfaction

In addition to lowered fertility and health risks to the reproductive system, behavioral complications may result from smoking. Sexual dysfunction and reduced satisfaction are sometimes reported among long-term smokers–both male and female.

Sexual dysfunction in men may involve difficultly establishing and maintaining an erection, since smoking affects blood circulation. In women, smoking increases the risk of developing cervical cancer, and damage to the cervix from related health care procedures may interfere with the likelihood of orgasm.

Sex and Smoking: Tips and Advice

While it’s not impossible have a satisfying sex life if you smoke, your sexual health and satisfaction are likely to improve if you quit. Here are a few bits of additional advice about sex and smoking:

  • Before attempting to conceive, both men and women who smoke should consult a doctor to learn more about the connections between conception, pregnancy, birth and smoking.
  • Exercise has the two-fold benefit of providing a healthy social outlet and reducing stress. In addition to improving sexual drive, both of these provide incentive and assistance when you quit smoking.
  • Socializing with non-smokers may help you find more motivation, making it easier to quit.

Resources

Gunter, J. (2009). Cigarettes are hazardous to your erection: Smoking and sexual health. Retrieved October 3, 2010, from http://www.examiner.com/sf-in-san-francisco/cigarettes-are-hazardous-to-your-erection-smoking-and-sexual-health

Mozes, A. (2010). Smoking could harm sperm, study finds. Retrieved October 3, 2010, from http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=119521

Planned Parenthood. (2010). Smoking and sexual health. Retrieved September 30, 2010, from http://www.plannedparenthood.org/teen-talk/body-mind/drugs-alcohol-smoking/smoking-sexual-health-25209.htm

Zavos, P. (2010). Cigarette smoking and sexual health. Retrieved September 30, 2010, from http://www.acsh.org/healthissues/newsID.646/healthissue_detail.asp