You’ve seen the images on TV and in movies. A couple is in bed together, out of breath, but satisfied. Then, one of them rolls over and reaches onto the nightstand. After a second, he or she sits up, cigarette in hand, happily lighting up and taking a long drag. Cigarettes and sex just go together, right?
Unfortunately for smokers, this image of the romantic cigarette heralding the end of a night of passion is hardly the reality. The happily out of breath couples would be more likely to be coughing or wheezing for one, but that’s not the end of the story.
Smoking and Sexual Performance
Unlike the Romanticized notion of smoking being a relaxing part of the post-sex enjoyment, studies have shown that smokers are less likely to enjoy a fulfilling sex life. Not only does tobacco use dampen sexual desire, but it can also decrease sexual performance. This can be due, in part, to smokers getting easily winded during sex, and feeling less than aroused by their waning performance. Stopping to gasp for air mid-intercourse is hardly the romantic experience most people envision. Smoking can also hinder sexual performance, even when the smoker is initially in the mood. This may be in part due to the lack of blood flow smokers experience due to smoke inhalation and decreased lung function, although researchers are trying to determine all the ways tobacco use can affect sexual function.
Based on a report by Time Magazine, studies have shown that men who quit smoking have thicker, harder erections as well. This not only makes sex more enjoyable for both partners but is also beneficial for the male’s confidence in the bedroom, which is a major libido booster.
Smoking and Fertility
Even if couples are able to get in the mood, having sex may not lead to pregnancy due to men who smoke. Couples who are trying to conceive, in which the male is a smoker, are more likely to fail from his possible infertility. This is due to cigarettes’ impact on sperm. Smokers are more likely to have lowered sperm mobility and other issues which may make impregnating a partner more difficult.
Since the exact ways smoking impacts and impairs sexual functions are not completely understood, the only way to reverse or combat them is to quit smoking. This may be difficult for some, but there are tools available that can help. Prescription medications are available for those who have had difficulties quitting, as well as nicotine replacement products which help with the transition.