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Smoking, sex and e-cigarettes - new research discoveries

22nd Jan 2016

The field of research into smoking and health is huge. We’ve known for many years that smoking is related to lung cancer, for example - not that the information has helped a lot of us to stop! However, there’s one area that’s rarely discussed - cigarettes and sex.

Cigarette smoking can cause erectile dysfunction

In the past decade research has revealed that men who smoke more than 20 tobacco cigarettes a day are 60% more likely to have difficulty obtaining and maintaining an erection. This is because toxic chemicals in tobacco smoke damage the blood vessels - in scientific parlance decreased availability of nitric oxide (NO) means that the arteries, veins and even the tiny capillaries of the penis can’t draw on reactive oxygen to swell and get bigger. End result, no sex!

In addition, if a man has high blood pressure, cigarettes will increase the risk of them having problems with erectile dysfunction until they are 26 times more likely to struggle sexually.

And the effects can be long-lasting - a 2006 study in the Journal of the British Association of Urological Surgeons revealed that men who do have erectile dysfunction are twice as likely to be former smokers.

But these are not the only ways that cigarettes interfere in our sex lives, and they don’t only have a negative impact on men. Women can find cigarettes impair their sex lives too. 

Women, sex, pregnancy and cigarettes

There is some evidence that smoking alters women’s menstrual cycles. Those who smoke experience more painful and more irregular periods. Fairly soon after stopping smoking, these women find their periods are more regular. In addition, a recently published study from the University of Kentucky suggests that cigarette smoking has a negative effect on the ability to conceive because toxic substances in cigarette smoke can harm the ovaries.

Finally, because nicotine decreases the level of oestrogen, female smokers are, on average, likely to enter menopause up to two years earlier, reducing fertility and interest in sex.

Nicotine, sex and e liquids

So, if this is true, and nicotine has a role to play in reducing libido and damaging erectile function, can electronic cigarettes have any part to play - or should we give up nicotine all together?

There is some evidence that e-cigarette use can actually help improve the quality of an individual’s sex life - this is because the dose of nicotine per puff is usually only around 10% of that from tobacco smoking. In addition the volume of nicotine in e liquids is variable and vapers find it easier to reduce their nicotine intake by choosing e liquids that have a rewarding flavour but a reduced proportion of nicotine. For example, our double menthol e-liquid has a mere 6 mg nicotine but a rewarding fresh flavour that supports the desire to reduce nicotine consumption … and makes you taste minty-fresh to whoever you’re snogging!

For many smokers, quitting nicotine altogether is difficult, but reducing their exposure to toxic chemicals in cigarettes is entirely possible, but switching to e-cigs and choosing an e-liquid that satisfies their palate without inhaling nearly as much nicotine. As a result, they benefit from fresher breath, an increased libido and overall better health - all of which make for a happy sex life!

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