Skip to Content
Home > Wellness > Health Library > Smoking: Sexual and Reproductive Problems
Smoking can gradually and permanently damage blood vessels throughout
the body, including those that carry blood to the penis. This can make it
difficult to get or maintain an erection (impotence). Quitting smoking may help
prevent new damage from occurring inside the blood vessels.
Smoking can also affect a man's ability to get or maintain an
erection in other ways that are not well understood. Nicotine may make the
blood vessels narrower for a short time, which makes it more difficult to get enough
blood into the penis for a normal erection. Men who quit smoking often have
fewer problems achieving a normal erection.
During sexual arousal, a woman's genitals swell with blood. Nicotine narrows blood vessels, which makes it harder for blood to fill the genitals. So women who smoke may have less sexual sensation or feel less aroused.
Smoking while on hormonal birth control increases a woman's health risks, such as for blood clots, heart attack, and stroke. And birth control may not work as well, because smoking can lower the level of estrogen in the body.
Compared to women who do not smoke, women who smoke are likely to have longer and more painful and irregular menstrual cycles or periods.
Women who smoke take longer to become pregnant. But women who
quit smoking before they try to become pregnant are as likely to become
pregnant as women who have never smoked.
ByHealthwise StaffPrimary Medical ReviewerAdam Husney, MD - Family MedicineSpecialist Medical ReviewerMichael F. Bierer, MD - Internal Medicine,
Current as ofMay 26, 2016
Current as of:
May 26, 2016
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & Michael F. Bierer, MD - Internal Medicine,
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2016 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
I Want To...
Our interactive Decision Points guide you through making key health decisions by combining medical information with your personal information.
You'll find Decision Points to help you answer questions about:
Get started learning more about your health!
Our Interactive Tools can help you make smart decisions for a healthier life. You'll find personal calculators and tools for health and fitness, lifestyle checkups, and pregnancy.
Feeling under the weather?
Use our interactive symptom checker to evaluate your symptoms and determine appropriate action or treatment.