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Smoking And Sexual Health


The stressful and competitive life today has pushed many people to pursue different activities to destress themselves and smoking tops them all.

Smoking can cause numerous issues like chronic heart disease, respiratory issues, lung cancer, bronchitis, and the list goes on.

Apart from these issues, smoking can also hurt your sex life. It can disrupt your performance in bed and draw a wedge between your partner and you.

In this article, you will be reading about how smoking affects your sex life, what issues can you face due to smoking, and how can you get rid of these issues.

An Overview On Smoking And Sexual Health

Tobacco and products made from it can be very dangerous to your health. No part of the body remains untouched from the harms of tobacco.

The cigarettes contain substances like acetone, tar, nicotine, and carbon monoxide, all of which could cause complications, some of which might leave long-term effects on your body.

A study by CDC[1] established a link between smoking cigarettes and the adverse health conditions it can cause. They laid out the following conditions-

  • Cancer
  • Heart disease
  • Chronic lung disease
  • Stroke
  • Diabetes
  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease or COPD

However, the list does not end here. Smoking can impact sexual health in both men and women. It can cause hormonal alterations, low libido, infertility, and lower stamina in their bodies.

On one hand, problems like erectile dysfunction, low testosterone count, low sperm motility, damaged DNA in sperm, etc. are found in men.

On the other hand, issues with conception, early menopause, PMS, cervical cancer, lowered vaginal lubrication, etc. can be experienced by the women.

Therefore, quitting smoking as soon as you could, may help you in reversing the side effects it causes to your body.

Effects Of Smoking On Men’s Sexual Health

  1. Erectile Dysfunction

    Erectile dysfunction is when men find it challenging to get or maintain a hard erection during sexual intercourse.

    A study[2] proved that smoking could increase men’s risk of erectile dysfunction in men and worsen the pre-existing condition.

    The same study also mentioned that the condition might arise in men of any age and with comorbidities.

    For getting or maintaining hard erections, the blood flow to the penis must be maintained, but smoking could decrease the presence of nitric oxide in the body.

    Nitric oxide[3] is responsible for the smooth flow of blood in the blood vessels, and the reduction hinders the blood supply, which could ruin erectile function through the vascular mechanisms.

    This contributes to the risk of developing ED in men who are regular smokers

  2. Causes Infertility

    Presently, infertility is one of the most common concerns in young men. Smoking not only acts as a catalyst in such conditions but also increases the risk of infertility.

    A study[4] conducted on semen analysis of smoking men concluded that the semen parameters like semen volume, sperm count, and sperm motility were below average.

    It could also cause damage to the DNA of the sperm and cause difficulty in conceiving a baby.

    It was found in a meta-analysis[5] that there was a decline in the density of sperms by 13% to 17% in men who were regular smokers when compared to non-smokers.

  3. Low Sex Drive

    Consistent smoking could result in a decreased testosterone count, the chief sex hormone in a male body.

    The study[6] has shown that smoking cigarettes could increase the presence of carbon monoxide in the body, which could hinder testosterone production.

    The decline in testosterone production in the body leads to the decline in the sex drive of smoking males.

    Another study[7] stated that smoking plays a vital role while evaluating the testosterone count in males and could also hide the borderline[8] hypogonadism in men.

  4. Lack of Stamina

    Another side effect of smoking is degraded lung function and shortness of breath which result[9] in decreased endurance for physical activities.

    Breathlessness also impacts your stamina and performance in bed. This makes you embarrassed and leaves your partner and yourself unsatisfied.

    Moreover, foul breath and tainted teeth[10] could also be a turn-off for a bed partner. 

Effects Of Smoking On Women’s Sexual Health

  1. Development of Premenstrual Syndrome

    Women who are regular smokers could experience a higher risk of premenstrual syndrome like bloating, backaches, sore breasts, and acne issues in comparison to non-smoker women.

    A review[11] of multiple studies showed that women who were in their early adulthood could have a substantial risk of developing moderate to severe PMS.

  2. Advanced Menopause

    Cigarette smoking can have many adverse effects on health and one of the most common ones in women is early menopause.

    A meta-analysis of 11 studies[12] suggests that it is an important and independent risk for early menopause

    Smoker women experience irregular periods more often too besides experiencing early menopause when compared to non-smoker women.

    The research[13] concluded that due to the increased risk of early menopause, the span of reproductive life of smoking women is also compromised.

  3. Lowered Genital Arousal

    A study[14] was conducted where 25 sexually active women who were least exposed to nicotine were given 6 mg of nicotine gum and were shown an erotic film.

    The outcome of the study showed that nicotine created a flow of biochemical and vascular events which could have led to the disruption in the normal sexual arousal of women.

    Another study[15] showed that smoking could degrade the estrogen level in women which is the chief sex hormone of women.

    This could also lead to lowering the sexual response in female genitalia as well as reducing the lubrication in the vagina.

  4. Infertility

    Similar to men, women who smoke also face issues with fertility. It could increase the rate of loss of healthy eggs and raise the risk of infertility.

    In some women, estrogen production is affected[16] in the ovarian cells due to the smoke of cigarettes.

    This low estrogen production in the body could lead to lower production of eggs and result in genetic abnormalities and lower chances of pregnancy.

    As per this government study[17], smoking can also affect a healthy pregnancy and increase the risk of miscarriages and premature labor.

How To Get Help?

Smoking is a hazardous habit and is capable of causing a lot of harm to your body. Therefore, you must quit smoking as soon as you can.

You could get help[18] from online forums, your health expert, or talking therapies too. Though it will take time yet with dedication you can quit smoking.

Practicing yoga or aerobics could also be beneficial for you if you’re trying to quit smoking as they can help with the nicotine withdrawal symptoms too, as per this study[19].

Research suggested[2] that quitting smoking might reverse the signs of erectile dysfunction in men. Additionally, you could consult a doctor to provide you with medication to cure ED.

On experiencing any of the above medical conditions, a person must visit their doctor and get themselves treated to avoid further complications in their lives.


Thus to conclude, smoking could create disruptions in the sexual life of both men and women.

Smoking hurts the sexual life of smokers and this might lead to complications in their relationships, over time.

As you are aware that smoking will not only affect your sexual health but will also hamper your overall bodily functions, therefore trying to quit is the best option.

Refer to the experts and professionals for help.


Working4Health prefers using primary and verified references. We have strict sourcing guidelines and our primary references include peer-reviewed research, academic, and medical institution studies.

  1. What Are the Risk Factors for Lung Cancer? Page last reviewed: October 18, 2021 Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/lung/basic_info/risk_factors.
  2. J.R. Kovac, C. Labbate, R. Ramasamy, et al. Effects of cigarette smoking on erectile dysfunction Andrologia. 2015 Dec; 47(10): 1087–1092.Published online 2014 Dec 29. doi: 10.1111/and.12393
  3. Kejing Chen, Roland N. Pittman, and Aleksander S. Popel Nitric Oxide in the Vasculature: Where Does It Come From and Where Does It Go? A Quantitative Perspective Antioxid Redox Signal. 2008 Jul; 10(7): 1185–1198. doi: 10.1089/ars.2007.1959
  4. Jason R. Kovac, Abhinav Khanna, and Larry I. Lipshultz. The Effects of Cigarette Smoking on Male Fertility Postgrad Med. 2015 Apr; 127(3): 338–341.Published online 2015 Feb 19. doi: 10.1080/00325481.2015.1015928
  5. M F Vine, B H Margolin, H I Morrison, et al. Cigarette smoking and sperm density: a meta-analysis Fertil Steril. 1994 Jan;61(1):35-43. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8293842/
  6. Julia Blanco-Muñoz, Marina Lacasaña, Clemente Aguilar-Garduño Effect of current tobacco consumption on the male reproductive hormone profile Sci Total Environ. 2012 Jun 1;426:100-5. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2012.03.071. Epub 2012 Apr 24. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22534361/
  7. Johan Svartberg, Rolf Jorde Endogenous testosterone levels and smoking in men. The fifth Tromsø study Int J Androl
    . 2007 Jun;30(3):137-43. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2605.2006.00720.x. Epub 2006 Nov 27. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17163954/
  8. Omeed Sizar; Janice Schwartz. Hypogonadism Last Update: June 27, 2022. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK532933/
  9. Smoking – effects on your body Reviewed on: 12-02-2019 Available from: https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/smoking-effects-on-your-body
  10. Effects of smoking and vaping on oral health Reviewed on: 23-04-2021 Available from: https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/smoking-and-oral-health
  11. Elizabeth R. Bertone-Johnson, Susan E. Hankinson, Susan R. Johnson, et al. Cigarette Smoking and the Development of Premenstrual Syndrome Am J Epidemiol. 2008 Oct 15; 168(8): 938–945.Published online 2008 Aug 13. doi: 10.1093/aje/kwn194
  12. Lu Sun, Lijun Tan, Fang Yang, et al. Meta-analysis suggests that smoking is associated with an increased risk of early natural menopause Menopause. 2012 Feb;19(2):126-32. doi: 10.1097/gme.0b013e318224f9ac. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21946090/
  13. Brian W Whitcomb, Alexandra C Purdue-Smithe, Kathleen L Szegda, et al. Cigarette Smoking and Risk of Early Natural Menopause Am J Epidemiol. 2018 Apr; 187(4): 696–704.Published online 2017 Aug 10. doi: 10.1093/aje/kwx292
  14. Christopher B Harte, Cindy M Meston The inhibitory effects of nicotine on physiological sexual arousal in nonsmoking women: results from a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, cross-over trial J Sex Med. 2008 May;5(5):1184-1197. doi: 10.1111/j.1743-6109.2008.00778.x. Epub 2008 Mar 4. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18331269/
  15. Mari Pölkki and Markus J. Rantala SMOKING AFFECTS WOMENS’ SEX HORMONE–REGULATED BODY FORM Am J Public Health. 2009 August; 99(8): 1350.
    doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2009.163485
  16. Alfred O Mueck, Harald Seeger Smoking, estradiol metabolism and hormone replacement therapy Curr Med Chem Cardiovasc Hematol Agents. 2005 Jan;3(1):45-54. doi: 10.2174/1568016052773270. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15638743/
  17. Pregnancy and smoking Reviewed on: 19-04-2022 Available from: https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/pregnancy-and-smoking
  18. Beth C. Bock, Joseph L. Fava, Ronnesia Gaskins, et al. Yoga as a Complementary Treatment for Smoking Cessation in Women J Womens Health (Larchmt). 2012 Feb; 21(2): 240–248. doi: 10.1089/jwh.2011.2963
  19. How to Quit Smoking Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/campaign/tips/quit-smoking/index.html

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