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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."

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Edited by Charlotte E. Grayson Mathis, MD on May 15, 2000

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