Sex may permeate our popular culture, but conversations about it are still associated with stigma and shame in Indian households. As a result, most individuals dealing with sexual health issues or trying to find information about sex often resort to unverified online sources or follow the unscientific advice of their friends.
To address the widespread misinformation about sex, News18.com is running this weekly sex column, titled ‘Let’s Talk Sex’. We hope to initiate conversations about sex through this column and address sexual health issues with scientific insight and nuance.
The column is being written by Sexologist Prof (Dr) Saransh Jain. In today’s column, Dr Jain explains the impact of tobacco intake and smoking on your sexual health and fertility.
It’s pretty impossible not to be aware that use of tobacco or smoking is bad for our health. It increases the risks of lung cancer, chronic lung disease, heart disease and more which come with lung cancer. But would you be more likely to quit if you learned it could affect your abilities in the bedroom too?
Smoking is a common habit among men in both urban and rural India. The past few decades have also seen a significant rise in the number of women smokers. We all know that smoking adds a significant cost burden on one’s finances, health and relationships. It is recognised as the most important preventable cause of ill health and disease.
‘Remember, the best way to spoil your health is to smoke.’
Cigarettes contain multiple ingredients and about thousands of chemicals when they are burned that are known to cause cancer. Many researches have also demonstrated the link between smoking cigarettes and serious health conditions. Perhaps lesser known is the impact that smoking can have on a person’s sexual function.
The following are the ways in which smoking could impact your sexual health.
Blood circulation is greatly affected by your smoking habits. It is a potential cause behind several critical health problems such as heart disease, stroke, and heart attacks. Therefore, ED is not an exception here.
Erectile Dysfunction is a major sexual problem in males that happens because of the inadequate blood flow in the male genitals. The penis cannot enlarge or stay erect for a long time because of the difficulties in filling the blood. Smoking damages the vascular system which is crucial in the process of facilitating erections. Erections require good blood flow to the penis, so men who smoke are more likely to experience ED because smoking damages the blood vessels and keeps them from functioning as well as they should.
Tobacco directly impacts testosterone levels in males and females. It becomes a major cause of low libido in males. Smoking cigarettes increases carbon monoxide levels in the body which inhibits the production of testosterone, ultimately bringing down the libido. As a result, the average ejaculation timings for smokers are very less as compared to non-smokers.
Smoking links to fertility challenges in many ways. Those who smoke will likely experience infertility than non-smokers. This fact equally applies to both men and women. Men who smoke have a lower sperm count, slow-moving sperm and abnormalities in sperm shape and function. In women, smoking accelerates the loss of eggs and speeds up infertility. Cigarette smoke also interferes with the ovarian cells’ ability to make estrogen and leads to more eggs with genetic abnormalities. The DNA in the egg and sperm are damaged because of tobacco. Besides men experiencing fertility problems, women addicted to smoking have lower chances of conceiving because of the damage caused by tobacco products. Nicotine, carbon monoxide and cyanide are the reasons behind egg-loss.
You can say that gaining or keeping erections isn’t the only problem imposed by tobacco. Such problems can be cured, but they cannot solve your infertility issues.
DECREASED PHYSICAL STAMINA
Because smoking accelerates a decline in lung function, many smokers become out of breath more quickly and have less endurance for physical tasks. This could also impact their stamina during sex. Additionally, physical changes such as stained teeth and bad breath may be unappealing to potential romantic partners.
SHRINKING OF PENIS
Smoking makes the penis shrink over time. As mentioned earlier, smoking hinders blood circulation in many parts of the body. It gets difficult to gain spontaneous erections or night erections that keep the penis stretched and maintain its good health. Such changes may not be witnessed over time, but when it happens, you’ve come too far.
INCREASES THE RISK OF CERTAIN SEXUAL DISEASES
Many different illnesses such as sexual infections, or Peyronie’s disease, an abnormality of the penis, can be activated or aggravated by tobacco. Researchers have also found a link between exposure to tobacco and the sexually transmitted human papillomavirus. This virus is commonly believed to increase the risk of mouth and throat cancers.
WHAT IS THE SOLUTION?
Smoking is injurious to health. This is more than a saying. Tobacco has severe effects on male and female sexual health. Besides degrading the average life expectancy, it impacts the overall health of an individual.
However, if you cannot let go of smoking, you already know the negatives you can bring to your peaceful life. It becomes one of the main reasons behind complicating relationships. Quitting smoking can bring positive changes and can also bring your life back on track.
If you need support or advice for quitting smoking, reach out to a trusted counsellor or a health care professional.
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