When Mark Jordan was a 22-year-old substitute teacher in Phoenix, he had
been smoking for about a year and noticed the fire in his love life was no
"Sex was suddenly getting boring," he says. "I didn't want to
have it. I would get out of breath so easily, and I simply felt gross."
While he averaged only half a pack a day, he often smoked much more on the
weekends. The effects were not good.
Men don't like to talk about it; neither do their partners. But loss of
libido in men or inhibited sexual desire stresses a marriage more than any
other sexual dysfunction, according to Barry McCarthy, co-author of
Rekindling Desire: A Step by Step Program to Help Low-Sex and No-Sex
Losing interest in sex may not be as common an occurrence for men as it is
for women: It affects about 15% to 16% of men, and at least double that many
women. "But when men lose interest in sex it...
"I remember having sex in the shower and feeling like I was going to
pass out," he says. That was a turning point. He stopped smoking, started
exercising, and began to eat right. After the changes, he had a much greater
interest in sex and enjoys it more than ever.
Being able to dump the cigarettes is a real accomplishment -- especially
when you consider how smoking can become intertwined with the intimacy of a
relationship. Last year, for example, researchers at the University of Arizona
began to study couples where at least one member of the relationship
The investigators began to realize that smoking actually became a method of
subtle communication for members of the couples being studied. Lighting up gave
clues to each partner that it was time to talk, time to give space, or even
time to defend yourself because a world-class argument was about to begin.
The federally funded study is scheduled to go on for another year, and
hopefully, will provide methods to help counsel couples how to recognize
cigarettes as an abusive third member of their relationship. If couples are
going to weed the habit from their lives, the researchers say they will have to
find other ways to relate to each other, and more often than just during the
familiar after-sex smoke.
And of course, as Jordan found, smoking can directly torpedo the sex,
"Smoking has a direct, negative effect on the sexuality of a man on
every level," says Panayiotis M. Zavos, PhD, director of the Andrology
Institute of America and professor of reproductive physiology and andrology at
the University of Kentucky in Lexington.