Does smoking affect sexual pleasure and sexual health?
If you are a man, smoking could affect your sexual pleasure. Studies have found a link between smoking and erectile dysfunction, defined as not being able to sustain an erection long enough to have sex more than 25% of the time. Erectile dysfunction can be more frustrating than trying to catch a New York City cab in a thunderstorm during rush hour when you’re already late for an appointment that your promotion depends upon. If you smoke, keep that in mind when you take your next cigarette break. I’d wager that the prospect of impotence will make smoking less than relaxing.
For women, the smoking-sexual pleasure link is less direct. Smoking can cause changes in hormone levels, including estrogen, and it has been linked to problems with fertility. If you are hoping to get pregnant, the difficulty you may experience conceiving could also affect your sexual pleasure and desire.
Sexual pleasure is about more than just physiology. Along with those effects of smoking on sexual pleasure, there are esthetic imperatives as well. How would you like to kiss an ashtray. To a non-smoker, that’s what it’s like kissing a smoker. Or have nicotine-stained fingers touching your body. Esthetically, that is not a turn-on. People may be too polite to let you know that those types of things are an issue. They may just say no to the next date and you will be none the wiser.
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.