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Smoking and Sexual Health

Introduction

Smoking, be it occasional or regular, has a direct implication on sexual health, irrespective of the gender of the smoker. Explanation of the very process of smoking and what it does to one’s body would draw a clear picture of how it affects people’s sexual health negatively, at every stage of sexual intercourse. The impacts could be quite alarming to many, since smoking and sexual health is a subject that is often overlooked by people, until confronted with an issue.

In a study published in Addiction Behavior, it was shown that just two cigarettes could cause softer erections in male smokers.The research showed that 40 percent of men affected by impotence were smokers, as opposed to 28 percent of the general male population.Incidence of impotence is approximately 85 percent higher in male smokers compared to non-smokers. The shocking statistics that does not allow one to forget that smoking kills sexual drive and affects performance shall pose as a motivation for smokers to quit smoking.

 

Causes

Sexual arousal requires good blood circulation. However, tobacco exerts a negative effect on blood circulation by constricting blood vessels, thereby limiting blood circulation to the penis in men, and to the labia, clitoris, and vagina in women.This is because of nicotine’s role as a vasoconstrictor, which narrows the arteries. This may lead to disinterest in sexual intercourse, dissatisfaction, lethargy and over exhaustion. Most of the available studies indicate the negative impact of smoking being on the arousal phase – erection and lubrication.

In male smokers, erectile dysfunction is the most common implication that is diagnosed. The damage of the arteries as a result of the presence of nicotine in tobacco, ultimately leads to erectile dysfunction.That is, difficulty getting or maintaining an erection. Although it is less common in teenage men than in older men, studies show that smokers are at least 50 percent more likely to become impotent than non-smokers. Smoking can affect a man’s sexual health in more ways than one. Erectile dysfunction being the primary one, smokers also experience a reduction in the volume of sperm count, suffers from abnormal shape of sperms which in turn affects the quality of sperms. This can make conception difficult and may also put thefetus at risk of developing from genetic material that has been damaged by smoking. Along with degradation in the quality of semen, smoking affects the mobility of sperms as well, thereby reaffirming a direct relationship between smoking and male impotency.

 

Apart from complications during pregnancy, smoking affects women’s sexual excitement. To add on to it, the anti-estrogen effect of smoking could also advance menopause in women by several years, as a result of hormonal imbalances. Various toxins in cigarettes including carbon monoxide has long term implications on the sexual and reproductive health of smokers, be it a man or a woman.

The risks of passive smoking cannot be overlooked as well.

Diagnosis

Occasional smokers might experience sexual problems not as often as regular smokers and could be diagnosed and cured than the latter.

A pelvic examination along with the complete medical history of the female patient can reveal signs of female sexual dysfunction. Physical changes that affect sexual enjoyment, such as thinning of genital tissues, decreased skin elasticity, scarring or pain can generally help diagnose the state.

Generally, basic laboratory evaluation of erectile dysfunction in men includes measurement of serum HbA1c, comprehensive metabolic panel, morning testosterone levels, urine analysis, and a complete blood count.

 

Treatment

Nicotine content in cigarettes causes restricted blood flow which can be corrected with drugs that improve penile blood flow when injected into the side of the penis before sex.Oral medications are also available to deal with the state. Another option is a vacuum inflation device that draws blood into thepenis by creating negative pressure around it; a rubber ring is then slipped over the base of the penis to maintain the erection.

In females, estrogen therapy benefits sexual function by improving vaginal tone and elasticity, increasing vaginal blood flow and enhancing lubrication. However, a vaginal lubricant could be helpful to deal with vaginal dryness or pain.

Regular exercise increases stamina and general health and helps in smoother metabolism and blood flow through the body.

The alarming medical records that indicate an increase in the number of reported cases of impotency due to smoking shows a pattern in the sexual health of people. Undoubtedly, one of a concern.