If you’ve ever seen an old cigarette ad, you’ll know tobacco companies worked hard to sell ciggies as sexy and glamorous.  But did you know those cancer causing, heart harming, chemical-filled sticks can seriously impede your sex life and reproductive health?

Let’s start with implications for the guys out there.

Over time, smoking causes plaque to build up in the arteries around your body and the nicotine in cigarettes narrows your blood vessels. These changes can disrupt the blood flow to your penis, which can make it difficult for you to get and keep an erection. This is known as erectile dysfunction (ED).


As well as ED, an Australian study found that guys who smoke were more likely than non-smokers to:

  • lack interest in having sex
  • experience anxiety about performance
  • be unable to orgasm.

What if you're wanting to start a family?

When it comes to fertility, smoking can reduce the quantity and quality of your sperm and even damage the DNA . This can mean it takes longer for you to conceive, and your baby’s long-term health can also be affected.

Butt out cigarettes swimming in the shape of sperm towards a clear ashtray (the egg)

The news isn’t any better for women.

Smoking compromises nearly every system involved in the reproductive process.

The toxic chemicals in cigarettes can lead to egg loss or damage, making it harder to conceive.

If you smoke during pregnancy or people around your smoke, you have a higher risk of a miscarriage or stillbirth, premature birth, low birth weight and birth defects.

Not worried about fertility issues? Enter: dysmenorrhoea (a.k.a. seriously painful periods). Smoking increases your risk of this chronic period pain which can include headaches, cramps, nausea and vomiting. The pain can even worsen the more cigarettes you smoke per day.

Still smoking when menopause rolls around? You could be looking at earlier onset and heightened intensity of symptoms such as night sweats and hot flushes.  

Last but certainly not least, quit smoking --> better sex.

A study of 900 women found that those who smoked reported more frequent sexual difficulties related to:

  • arousal,
  • lubrication,
  • sexual pain,
  • orgasm and
  • lower satisfaction and pleasure.

Even light smoking can affect your enjoyment of sex and ability to orgasm.

The best thing you can do for your reproductive and sexual health is to quit smoking. Call the Quitline on 13 7848, or check out other ways to quit on our website. For more information on fertility, visit yourfertility.org.au.

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