One of the many health consequences of smoking is erectile dysfunction in men. Research also suggests that the chemicals in tobacco smoke also affect the quality of sperm, making smokers less fertile. Fortunately, by quitting smoking as soon as possible, you can reduce the negative effects.

With sexual arousal, more blood flows through the arteries to the penis and no blood is temporarily drained by the veins. So because more blood flows to the penis than from it, you get an erection. But chemicals in tobacco smoke, such as nicotine and carbon monoxide, can disrupt that process. After all, they can cause artery calcification, causing blood vessels to constrict and less blood flowing through the arteries. This can lead to erectile dysfunction: short-lasting erection, weak erection or even impotence.

Largely reversible

According to research, smokers are generally about 30% more likely to have erectile dysfunction than non-smokers. The higher cigarette use, the higher the risk. In very heavy smokers, who light up more than 20 cigarettes a day, the risk would be twice as high by about 60%.

However, the damage inflicted is largely reversible, quitting smoking can significantly increase the quality of your sex life. For example, a study showed that about 54% of stopped smokers treated for erectile dysfunction had fewer problems within six months of their last cigarette. By contrast, only 28% of men who continued to smoke noticed an improvement. So this research suggests that those who stop smoking are almost twice as likely to be treated successfully. The sooner you stop, the better, of course.

Damaged sperm

The quality of sperm also seems to suffer from the smoking behaviour of men. The harmful substances in tobacco smoke would, among other things, cause sperm to move less quickly, be smaller in number and have an abnormal form – making them less likely to get to the egg. Logically, this has a negative impact on male fertility. Again, heavy smokers suffer more adverse consequences. The negative effects also decrease when you renounce the cigarette.

Angie Mahecha

An fitness addict passionate of all things nature and animals, Angie often volunteers her time to NGOs and governmental organizations alike working with animals in general and endangered species in particular. She covers stories on wildlife and the environment for the Scientific Origin.