Washington: Between-the-sheets trouble is something all couples dread, but now, a recent study has suggested that for men, kicking the smoking habit can be beneficial not only for heart and lung health, but also for the sexual performance.
"Tobacco is a major cause of damage to the blood vessels that flow to the penis," said J. Patrick Selph from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. "If the blood vessels to the penis are damaged, erectile dysfunction may result. Tobacco is also a major cause of cardiovascular disease, and in some cases where the heart or its blood vessels are damaged, a man may be too unhealthy to engage in intercourse."
Studies have shown that smokers are at a higher risk of having a reduced sperm count and lower sperm motility, affecting male fertility. Side effects are worse in moderate or heavy smokers.
"I always tell my male patients that anything that is heart-healthy is penis-healthy," Selph said. "One of the major causes of both erectile dysfunction and cardiovascular disease is smoking. In fact, studies have shown that men who have erectile dysfunction are at risk for having a major cardiac event within five years. Quitting smoking is a key tool in the prevention of these problems."
In addition to the overall issues with tobacco, chewing tobacco poses a risk for throat and next cancer, as well as many dental problems.
"Those who stop smoking will see an immediate impact on their blood pressure with a decrease within minutes, and the toxic levels of carbon monoxide decrease within a day," said researcher J. Michael Wells. "Within three months, lung function begins to improve, and the risk of stroke and other cardiovascular diseases will decrease by at least four times."
Selph recommended a multifaceted approach, including counseling and sometimes medication. The most important thing to kicking the habit is being ready to do so.
A few additional tips from Selph and Wells to quit:
- If you are not motivated to quit, you probably will not succeed.
Set a stop date.
- Get rid of paraphernalia lying around the house such as ashtrays, lighters and cigarettes.
- Avoid stopping at the store where you typically purchased your tobacco products.
- Don't be afraid to lean on a family member or friend.
- Kick the habit with a friend who is ready to quit also.
- Find a support group.
- Use nicotine replacement products.
"Don't be afraid of failure," Wells said. "If you have a relapse, pick yourself up and try again. Cessation for any amount of time is a success. If it were easy, we wouldn't be having this conversation."