Does smoking affect your sexual health?
Having a healthy sex life makes you feel on top of the world. But what about smokers?
Can smoking affect your sexual health and if so, what can you do about it?
What is your sexual health?
Your sexual health doesn’t just mean avoiding sexually transmitted infections (STIs). The term ‘sexual health’ encompasses a whole lot more. It is part of your overall state of health and impacts your wellbeing too.
What does being sexually healthy mean?
Being sexually healthy means:
- You can communicate openly about your sexual health
- You recognise that sexuality is a healthy and natural part of life
- You can access information about sexual health
- You prevent unintended pregnancies
- You protect yourself and others from STIs and get treatment when necessary
- You experience sexual pleasure and intimacy when desired
- You respect and honour everyone’s sexual rights
- You have a satisfying sex life
When your sexual health is poor, it has a negative impact. From ruining relationships to a loss of sex drive, fun in the bedroom just doesn’t have the same appeal.
Why do you need good sexual health?
Having good sexual health means you experience a satisfying and enjoyable love life. You feel confident and self-assured that all is well in the bedroom department. Having good sexual health boosts your overall wellbeing and improves relationships. Sex is an important part of people’s relationships. Lack of sex or an unsatisfying sex life can lead to feelings of insecurity or even relationship break ups.
As a smoker, the chances are you have experienced - or could experience - some embarrassing problems.
How can smoking affect your sex life?
Smoking can be a real passion killer. Smelling like an ashtray is a real turn off. But that’s not the only thing to worry about. The effect of nicotine on your sexual health can be a lot more serious.
The chemicals you are exposed to in cigarettes can create a whole host of problems if you are trying to conceive a baby.
Some of the effects are:
- Reduces the chances of conception
- Lowers the sperm count
- Create abnormal sperm
- Increases the risk of miscarriages
- May lead to birth defects
Women are strongly advised to quit nicotine during pregnancy. In the US, 5.5% of babies born had mothers who smoked at some point during pregnancy. Younger mothers were more likely to continue smoking after conception.
Even passive smoking can increase the risks during pregnancy.
Your sex drive
Did you know that smoking can interfere with your sex drive? Smoking increases the levels of carbon monoxide in the body and this decreases the levels of testosterone. A lack of testosterone doesn’t just affect men, women also produce testosterone, but in smaller amounts. Testosterone is needed for arousal and sexual desire, so reduced levels can seriously let you down in the bedroom department.
Smoking narrows your blood vessels. So it makes sense that it affects men’s ability to get and maintain an erection. There is a strong correlation between smoking and impotence (erectile dysfunction) with smokers being 50% more likely to suffer with erection problems than non-smokers. Erection problems are common but can be embarrassing to talk about. It is important to get checked out if things aren’t functioning like they used to.
Similarly, the lack of blood flow for women can limit libido and sexual enjoyment. The reduced blood flow makes both lubrication and arousal more difficult. So female smokers risk a lack of sexual sensitivity and reduced orgasm frequency.
Lack of stamina
A marathon night of passion might turn out to be a quick sprint. Why? Because smoking reduces lung capacity and therefore stamina in the bedroom is reduced too. Using tobacco products puts a huge amount of pressure on the lungs and causes inflammation in the airways. This lack of oxygen in your body also makes muscles weaker. So passionate embraces might be more breathtaking for smokers than their partner.
How to improve your sexual health
Ok, so we know smoking can impact sexual health. But what can you do about it?
The harm smoking does to your sexual health is completely avoidable. The majority of the negative effects are caused by nicotine. So quitting nicotine can boost everything from your mood to your erection. Try some of these ideas and say hello to a happy sex life.
Go cold turkey
If the thought of ruining your sex life is keeping you up at night, then stub out those cigarettes Going cold turkey might feel intimidating, but get set with the right resources and you’ll be smoke free before you know it. Ask for help from friends and family, avoid any triggers (coffee, alcohol or socialising) and get yourself in the right mindset.
Start your quit journey
Is the thought of quitting your fix altogether just a lil’ bit too much? There are other options.
- Try some nicotine replacements like gum or patches to gradually reduce your dependence.
- Replace some of your cigarettes with an alternative. Try drinking a cup of coffee or a glass of water instead of your usual cigarette break.
- Switch to a nicotine-free Ripple+ for the sensation of smoking without the harmful chemicals.
Being aware of the impacts of smoking on your health can inspire you to give it up. Any step you take to becoming less dependent on nicotine is a win. Don’t forget to celebrate your achievements - however small! - and think about how amazing you will feel knowing you are smoke-free.
There is clear evidence that the smoking habit can harm your sexual health. Although smoking won’t affect everybody in the same way, it is important to understand the possible effects it can have on your sex life.
The best way to reduce these negative consequences is to kick the habit and give up nicotine. Sex after quitting smoking promises to be more enjoyable and more intense. You will improve your stamina, blood flow and libido. Some key ingredients for a healthy sex life.