Smoking, Sex and Reproduction

Smoking and Impotence

Impotence is the inability to have or maintain an erection. This condition effects roughly 1 in 10 men between the ages of 21 and 75. Risk of impotence is increased to nearly 50% by smoking cigarettes for men in their 30s and 40s. Diabetes, high cholesterol and drugs used to treat high blood pressure also increase the chances impotence.

During an erection, blood flows into the penile arteries causing the veins which drain the penis to become compressed, preventing blood from leaving the penis. This process is significantly impaired by smoking. Less blood flows into the penis if the route is blocked by fatty deposits in the arteries, (atherosclerosis) caused by smoking.

Acute vasospasm, contraction of the penile tissue, and restricted blood flow to the penis is a result of nicotine stimulation in the brain. The valve mechanism that traps blood in the penis is impaired as a result of nicotine in the blood stream. Some of the other male sexual dysfunctions cause by smoking cigarettes include: Reduced amount of ejaculate. Lower sperm count. Abnormal sperm shape. Impaired sperm mobility.

Cigarette smoking can also affect male fertility: smoking reduces the quality of semen. Men who smoke have a lower sperm count than non-smokers, and their semen contains a higher proportion of malformed sperm. By-products of nicotine present in semen of smokers have been found to reduce the motility of sperm.  One study found that sperm damaged by smoking may also result in more couples having baby girls than boys. The researchers suggest that the sperm cells carrying the Y chromosome are more vulnerable to the toxins in cigarette smoke.

Smoking and Women

Women who smoke take longer to conceive. Among smokers, the chances of conceiving fall by 10 ? 40 per cent per cycle. The greater the quantity of cigarettes smoked, the longer a woman is likely to take to achieve pregnancy.  Even comparatively low levels of smoking can have a significant impact. An investigation involving almost 11,000 women in Denmark revealed that women who smoked between five and nine cigarettes a day were 1.8 times more likely than non-smokers to wait longer than 12 months to conceive.  

 

 

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