Want Better Sex? Stop Smoking
Smoking can decrease libido.
From their work with couples being treated for infertility, Zavos and his
fellow researchers have found that men's smoking had a significant and negative
effect on the ability to conceive. But they also turned up a surprise: Smoking
significantly diminished a man's sexual desire and satisfaction -- even for
young men in their 20s and 30s.
The smokers reported having sex less than six times a month, whereas the
nonsmoking men were having sex nearly twice as often. This difference is
especially significant considering that these couples were actively trying to
conceive. "In current research, we are trying to identify how and why
tobacco use negatively impacts men's sexual performance. In my clinical
experience, it does decrease performance. Sexual performance is more than just
erectile function; it involves many of the systems of the body," says
Zavos. "But when a man's ability to have sex decreases, his appetite for
sex will generally follow."
Zavos found that when diminished desire is combined with impaired
performance, overall satisfaction is likely to suffer. When asked to rate their
satisfaction with the sex they were having on a scale of 1 to 10, nonsmoking
couples averaged 8.7, while couples with male smokers fared far worse with an
average of only 5.2. "There's no doubt in my mind," says Zavos,
"that nearly any man's sexual satisfaction and frequency [of having sex]
would increase if he stopped smoking."
Other experts agree that smoking can impair sexual performance. "Smoking
causes damage to smooth muscle inside the penis that interferes with erectile
functioning," says Richard Milsten, MD, co-author of The Sexual Male
and a urologist for more than 30 years in Woodbury, N.J. "So if men can't
perform as well, it would make sense that their libidos would suffer."
However, Milsten cautions against simple explanations for sexual behavior.
"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."