Friday, September 29, 2006

Does Smoking Help Snuff Out Your Sex Life? - Teresa Ambord

In case you need one more reason to quit smoking, recent studies suggest that smoking affects your sex life, especially for men. That’s a pretty powerful reason.

While an unfortunate fact of growing older is that there may be some performance problems in the bedroom, even men in their 20s and 30s who smoke report less vitality. This is not to suggest that females who smoke aren’t also affected sexually. But the research conducted using female subjects is minimal compared to research involving males.
Among the results of various studies came this finding: male smokers reported engaging in sex an average of six times a month, whereas nonsmokers said they had sex twice as often. This was true even for the younger men in the group who said they and their spouses were trying to conceive.

When asked to rate their overall satisfaction with their sex lives on a scale of 1 to 10, nonsmoking couples averaged 8.7 while couples in which the male smoked, the average score was far lower at 5.2.

Yet another study published in the Tobacco Journal measured the responses of 8,000 men aged 16-59. For these men it seemed clear that the greater their smoking habit, the more likely they were to experience impotence.

• For those who smoked 20 or fewer cigarettes per day, 24 percent were more likely to report this problem.

• For those who smoked more than 20 cigarettes, 39 percent had suffered impotence.

• In the general population, 28 percent of males have at some time been impotent, and of those, 40 percent were smokers.

That’s a pretty convincing reason to believe there is a connection.

What is the Link Between Smoking and Sex?

The jury is still out on that, but there is medical evidence that makes sense. Nicotine tightens blood vessels and restricts blood flow, and over the long term, can cause permanent damage to arteries. Sexual performance depends on blood flow, for men and to a lesser extent, for women.

Any factor that contributes to malfunctioning blood flow has the potential to interfere with activities that depend on that blood flow.

Still, co-author of the book The Sexual Male, doctor Richard Milsten (who is also a urologist) warns against making the explanation concerning sexual behavior too simple. He was quoted on the Web MD Web site as saying "There are so many factors in sexuality. Smoking is just one. Still, I don't think it's outlandish to say that refraining from smoking will benefit your sex life."

Teresa Ambord is a freelance writer for

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