On May 31 the World Health Organization (WHO) and its partners held World No Tobacco Day, a now annual event highlighting the dangers of smoking. Mostly, the campaign outlined the higher risks of cancer, heart disease and stroke—the top three killers worldwide. Oral health problems and the sheer cost of cigarettes in most places are other concerns that sometimes push people to quit. But one place that often makes men stand up and take notice, but is rarely talked about is the damage smoking can do to sexual health. Nicotine may relieve you when it hits your blood stream. But it is also a vasoconstrictor narrowing blood vessels, including those that facilitate an erection. Smoking increases the risk of ED by a whopping 50%. Nicotine also lowers a man’s testosterone level, a crucial hormone for proper erectile function. It isn’t just nicotine. 4,000 other noxious chemicals are also released into the body after inhaling tobacco smoke.
For those men trying to conceive, understand that smoking affects male fertility, specifically one’s sperm count and motility—the ability of the sperm to swim long and hard enough to reach the egg. But there is good news. Experts say within 20 minutes of quitting you can see some health improvements. Circulation improves dramatically after just two weeks. That includes blood flow to the sex organs. Quitting can seem like a daunting process. You really have to decide in your heart that it is what’s best and stick with it. That said there are lots of programs available today to help. Here are some tips. Set a deadline for yourself. It’s easy to say soon or someday. But a hard date can help you really commit. Have some sort of go-to strategy for when cravings hit. Take a walk, practice deep breathing exercises or do some stretches. You’ll feel better and it will help get you through cravings. Your physician can also make recommendations on the many products and cessation programs available via prescription, or over the counter.