When you think of the damage that smoking does to your wellness, you probably think about your lungs, heart disease, and even aesthetic stuff like yellow teeth and nails. However, though you may not realise it, smoking can have a huge impact on your sexual health – especially for men. Nothing affects a man’s sexual wellbeing quite like impotence, and your 20-a-day may be bringing it on.
Any wellness expert – or back of a fag packet – will tell you that smoking has a negative impact on your cardiovascular system, as it causes plaque to build up in your arteries. Men obviously need good blood flow in order to get an erection, but this becomes more difficult when you have arteries that are packed with plaque. Even if you don’t smoke personally, second hand smoking can also lead to erectile dysfunction, so hanging out with or even dating someone who smokes may, in the long run, really dampen your sex life.
However, lighting up prevents you from getting it up in more ways than one; in order to have a healthy sex life your nervous system needs to coordinate with your hormones, as well as mental stimulation, and smoking also gets in the way of this. Aside from the fact that arterial build up can lead to stroke, heart attacks or diabetes, long-term smoking means you’re almost certain to have moderate to severe erectile dysfunction (ED). Studies have shown that men who smoke consistently throughout the day have the softest erections at night. But will the ED go away if you quit smoking?
According to a study carried out by researchers at the University of Hong Kong Schools of public health and nursing, 53.8% of men who quit smoking experienced a noticeable improvement in their sexual function. These quitters were 91.5% more likely to reduce their ED than men who did not quit – you can’t really argue with those odds! As a result of this study, the researchers turned to the government and asked them to change the “smoking may cause erectile dysfunction” labels on cigarette packets to “smoking causes erectile dysfunction”. This is because they believe men who suffer with impotence can experience quick and effective results from quitting.
If you’re a heavy smoker, trying to kick the habit can be extremely difficult. Although there are many resources out there to help you, you’re only going to quit altogether if you are determined enough to pull it off. Still, once you have the right mind set, you can make the process a whole lot more simple by bearing a few important factors in mind:
1. Start strong. Make a firm decision about quitting and pick a particular day to quit.
2. Deal with withdrawal. Once the nicotine starts to leave your system, it can be hard to stay firm in your convictions. A lot of research points towards the use of nicotine replacement therapy or NRT as the most effective way to help smokers to quit.
3. Get help. Even with NRT, you may still experience those strong cigarette urges, so it may be beneficial to join a nicotine anonymous meeting or stop smoking class, and get tips from books, pamphlets and websites.
4. Consult a doctor. It may be embarrassing to talk to your GP about erectile dysfunction, but surely it’s more embarrassing in the long run to let the problem get out of hand, when you have the ability to deal with it. If you have pain with urination, pain in the lower belly or your erection lasts for less than a few minutes, you need to seriously consult a doctor.