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3 ways tobacco use impacts your sex life

Big Tobacco works hard to make smoking and vaping seem sexy. Tobacco companies have long used sexual themes in tobacco advertising as a strategy to increase the overall appeal of their products.

Sex ads collage

But, unfortunately for tobacco companies, reality isn’t on their side. Far from sexy, smoking and vaping can negatively affect a person’s sex life in big ways. Here are three of them.

1. Erectile dysfunction

Smoking damages blood circulation in many ways, leading to a range of health problems including heart disease, heart attack, and stroke. Studies show it can also increase the risk of erectile dysfunction.

A review of studies from Baylor University concluded that smokers have a higher risk of developing ED, independent of age and comorbidities. One of the studies reviewed reported that males who smoked more than 20 cigarettes per day had double the risk of severe ED than those who smoked fewer cigarettes. Other studies included in the review found that the duration of smoking – how long a person has smoked tobacco – can significantly increase the risk of ED.

While the effects of smoking on reproductive health are well known, more research is needed to determine how other tobacco products, such as e-cigarettes and oral nicotine products, might affect sexual health. It’s also important to remember that young people are susceptible to these risks as well as older people.

2. Decreased sex drive

Studies have suggested a link between smoking and lowered sex drive (libido) in men. According to a 2022 study published in BJU International involving 6,754 men aged 50-75, current smokers had a higher risk of low sex drive compared to non-smokers.

Some of these effects may be related to mental health. Nicotine addiction can intensify symptoms of depression and anxiety and increase stress levels, which can impact sex drive for both men and women.

3. Infertility

Smoking is linked to fertility challenges in several ways. According to the Surgeon General’s report on the effects of smoking on reproductive health, smoking can damage the genetic material in eggs and sperm, which can lead to higher rates of miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, preterm labor, and birth defects. Smoking is also associated with decreased sperm output and sperm motility (sperm’s ability to move) in men.

In addition, smoking has been shown to affect menstruation by shortening cycles, which can impact the chances of getting pregnant. Erectile dysfunction can also contribute to failure to conceive. People exposed to secondhand smoke can suffer from these challenges too, even if they don’t smoke.

Resources are available for people who want to quit

Whether you want to quit smoking, vaping, or using oral nicotine products, support is available. There are many reasons for quitting nicotine, including cost, social influence, freedom from addiction, and physical and mental health. If you or someone you care about is trying to quit, here are some resources to help.


EX is a free, digital quit-smoking plan and online community of thousands of smokers and ex-smokers developed by Truth Initiative in collaboration with Mayo Clinic. It has helped more than 910,000 people develop the skills and confidence to successfully quit. Research has shown that following the EX quit plan quadruples a tobacco user's chance of quitting.

This is Quitting

The first-of-its-kind program to help young people quit vaping, This is Quitting has helped over 600,000 youth and young adults on their journey to quit vaping. Learn more about how it works and the additional resources available for parents of young vapers and for adults who want to quit.

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