Smoking and Your Sex Drive: Why Lighting Up May Extinguish the Flame in the Bedroom
Changes in the level of intimacy in our relationships aren’t always easy to address without the added fear of embarrassing or hurting our partners. Although these changes may be influenced by a number of factors in our day-to-day lives, it isn’t uncommon for our personal and sometimes unpleasant habits to affect intimacy in ways that aren’t as easy to recognize. Though we may all be well aware of the negative effects smoking is proven to have on our bodies over time, when it comes to smoking and libido it may come as a surprise that lighting up may be extinguishing the flames in our love lives. If it turns out that smoking is contributing to a lack of desire for intimacy, it may be time to think about quitting. And if smoking is a shared habit, encouraging and working with one another may just make the process of quitting that much easier.
Smoking Can Decrease Desire in Both Men and Women
Though the exact mechanisms have yet to be confirmed, several research studies have formed a definitive relationship between smoking and sex drive, specifically cigarette smoke and decreased libido in both male and female participants when compared with non-smokers with the same demographic characteristics.
Cigarette smoke contains thousands of powerful toxins that enter the bloodstream and wreak havoc on our internal organs. Smoking has also been proven to negatively affect both ovarian and testicular functions as well as vital pituitary functions that regulate certain male hormones leading to lessened desire and weakened overall performance. In cases where only one partner smokes, lack of intimate desire could possibly stem from an aversion to the unpleasant smell and residue left behind on the skin, hair and clothing of the smoker.
Because smoking weakens some sensory abilities, especially the senses of smell and taste, people who smoke may be less aware of the strong odors and irritants nonsmokers are easily able to pick up on. Some may find it hard to inform their partners that their less-than-attractive habit may be contributing to the lack of desire for intimacy. In these cases, it is important to realize that even the nonsmoker is at risk when exposed to the harmful toxins from secondhand smoke. Speaking up may be just what it takes to save a life, as well as a love life. Maintaining patience, remaining supportive and presenting an encouraging attitude will go a long way on the journey to helping your partner kick the habit for good.
Smoking and Sex Drive: One of Many Concerns
If the ultimate goal is to start or expand a family, quitting smoking now may be beneficial to increase chances of natural conception. Research shows that excessive exposure to the harmful chemicals in cigarette smoke damages sperm integrity and lessens overall sperm parameters. Spermatozoa examined from men who smoke also show a lessened fertilization rate. Women are also at risk for lessened fertility when overly exposed to cigarette smoke. One study even shows that smoking may decrease normal egg reserves in the ovaries and interrupt regular egg deposits into the uterus leading to higher instances of ectopic pregnancy.
Some Creative Ways to Kick the Habit
Though being able to quit “cold turkey” is an admirable feat to accomplish, it isn’t always as easy as that for everyone. The desire to regain lost intimacy with a partner may be the needed incentive to help get back on track to a healthy life and relationship. If you're trying to quit because you're concerned about smoking and sex drive, having a partner encouraging and helping you get through the tough times will make the process smoother and much more meaningful.
Start by setting attainable goals
Setting attainable goals on the road to quitting may make the process a little less painful. Work with your partner to create a system of attainable goals and incentives. For example, if you regularly smoke a pack a day, try and cut consumption down to a reasonable number. Once you have your starting point cut back a bit more weekly, even daily if possible. One fun and collaborative method of encouragement is using a reward and punishment system. Have your partner fill two containers, one containing reasonable reward options for meeting goals and the other containing reasonable punishments for those minor setbacks. Try and keep the punishments light as not to discourage follow-through in the process. One suggestion is a “pay-up” jar for slip-ups. Your partner will be required to deposit an agreed amount into to the jar if and when they fall off the wagon to discourage those minor slip-ups.
Form healthy lifestyle habits to help reduce the urge to smoke
Physicians cite consuming a healthy diet and exercising regularly as two of the best methods of naturally reducing stress. Coincidentally both cited to be effective methods of naturally boosting libido and energy. Jumping back into a regular exercise routine may be hard to adjust to at first so working collaboratively with your partner should make the experience more enjoyable and a little easier to commit to. And if, like most, you enjoy saving a few bucks; you'll be glad to know that aside from a few healthier choices at the market, it costs nothing. Find a few feet of fairly clear space and you're good to go.
This article was written for informational purposes only and is not intended to be used in place of advice from a licensed physician. Always consult a physician before stopping or making changes to an existing medication regimen.