You already know that smoking is bad for your health. There’s not a redeeming quality about the habit. But what you might not know is that smoking can also have a detrimental effect on your erection health.
In the midst of several anti-smoking campaigns, New York City Mayor Bloomberg and the city’s Health Department have waged a new battle against the tobacco habit, and it’s caught the attention of men in the city and across the nation.
“NYC Quits” is the Health Department’s website where smokers can find support to help kick the habit. And while anti “smoker-harassment” groups believe the city’s claims are widely exaggerated, the medical community believes there is truth in the connection between smoking and erection health problems.
Just What’s in That Cigarette?
Lighting up after sex is commonplace for smokers. The “after-sex” cigarette is referred to in art, literature, TV, and movies. There are many activities that trigger nicotine cravings, such as having a cup of coffee, finishing a meal, or sex. Buy why smokers crave and become addicted to nicotine at all is still being studied.
Cigarettes contain numerous ingredients, and smoking a cigarette releases a host of chemicals, according to The American Lung Association. Some of these are arsenic, carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, lead, butane, ammonia, and tar. That’s quite a cocktail.
No one would intentionally swallow down or breathe in those chemicals on their own. A glass of formaldehyde just doesn’t sound appealing. It’s the addiction factor that compels smokers to take it, and the other chemicals, into their bodies on a regular basis.
Smoker’s Brains are Different, but Don’t Start That Way
The brains of smokers appear to be different, according to research including Increased Nicotinic Receptors in Brains from Smokers: Membrane Binding and Autoradiography Studies. This study was conducted by experts at the Department of Pharmacology at both George Washington Medical Center and Georgetown University School of Medicine, and Case Western University School of Medicine’s Department of Psychiatry.
The focus here was with whether there is a difference in nicotine receptors in smokers as opposed to non-smokers. After examining brains from both groups, the conclusion was that there is a marked difference, there are more nicotine receptors in a smoker’s brain, and this increase appears to happen as a result of smoking.
In other words, every after-sex cigarette you have can create more nicotine receptors in the brain.
Brain receptors are proteins, at least usually, and each protein is like a puzzle piece. When the a matching puzzle piece finds its way to the receptor protein, a link is made, which triggers any number of things to occur in the brain. In the case of smoking, a chemical called dopamine is released.
Dopamine is a “feel-good” hormone, explains the Mayo Clinic. That’s one reason why smoking a cigarette might make a non-smoker green around the gills, but makes a smoker feel better. The pleasant sensation that comes from smoking a cigarette is the direct result of the nicotine / nicotine receptor connection and the corresponding shot of dopamine that a longtime smoker with more nicotine receptors gets.
But could that little post-sex cigarette be adding more receptors and hurting your chances for the next sexual encounter at the same time? Maybe.
Smoking Restricts Blood Flow in Many People
Smoking is linked to numerous health conditions, including atherosclerosis, which causes a waxy material called plaque to build up in the arteries. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute explains that over time, plaque can harden, and dramatically reduce blood flow throughout the body. Smoking can also make blood thicker, which further reduces its ability to flow freely.
At the center of the problem is that smoking can also damage the heart. So nicotine restricts blood vessels and thickens blood, which is a double-punch with getting blood to flow efficiently throughout the body, and it damages the very source — your heart.
You want blood to flow freely to every part of your body, but smoking works against it.
The link between smoking and erection heath starts to become clear at this point. A healthy, adequate blood supply to the penis is partly responsible for healthy erections. If you’re smoking, that blood supply may be diminishing little by little with every cigarette. The after-sex smoke is less and less appealing all the time.
Mayor Bloomberg’s “NYC Quits” Campaign
Forget the antiquated image of a sexy smoker; cigarettes might very well ruin your chances at a great sex life. The “NYC Quits” campaign strongly discourages smoking, stating that it damages a man’s ability to get and sustain an erection, according to the New York Post.
The Post also states that more than 30 million men have erection health issues. And what’s really staggering is that the number is predicted to double by 2025. But the campaign doesn’t just focus its attention on men. Increased premenstrual syndrome symptoms and fertility problems in women are also mentioned.
If you want to circle back to something a bit more scientific than a city’s anti-smoking campaign, that’s easy enough to do. WebMD explains that men who smoke 20 or more cigarettes a day are at a much high risk of erection health issues — 60% higher than current non-smokers who have never smoked. Men who have smoked in the past have a higher risk than lifelong non-smokers, but it’s still much lower than smokers.
Quitting Smoking Now Can Help Improve Erection Health
Smoking isn’t doing your health, or your love life, any favors. The smartest choice is to quit as soon as possible.
Any smoker who has tried to quit knows, it might be the hardest thing you’ve ever done in your life. But fortunately, there are medications on the market that help, and a host of support from many directions, including “stop smoking” programs and your doctor.
Some people, especially those who have smoked for years, might question whether there’s any benefit to quitting now. If heart and blood vessel damage is already done, what good might it do to put down the cigarettes now, once and for all?
The website, Why Quit? , breaks down a sort of timeline to give you an idea of what happens after you smoke your last cigarette:
- Within less than half an hour, blood pressure can return to normal.
- Within 12 hours, blood oxygen and carbon monoxide levels can normalize
- In as little as two days, damaged nerve endings can start to repair.
- In three days, most of the nicotine is gone from your body.
- Within two weeks, your circulatory system is showing marked signs of improvement.
- By the three-month mark, your circulation has improved substantially
The body’s ability to heal itself is remarkable. In just a few months, the equivalent of a full season of a year, your body could change from restricted blood flow to a circulatory system that’s approaching normal again.
In 2011, Time Magazine reported that men who kick the nicotine habit may experience some other happy results. Not only do symptoms of erection health issues dissipate in many men, but they also notice an increase in penis size.
Time says a study, published in the British Journal of Urology International, shows smoking cigarettes has a direct and negative effect on erection health, but quitting can help reverse it. The 31% of men participating in the study who successfully quit smoking had wider, and firmer, erections than the men who relapsed and started smoking again. They also reached maximum arousal, but not climax, faster. Win, win, and win.
Smoking is known to contribute to health problems. Now it’s known that your sexual health may also be at risk. Although the urge to pick up that pack of cigarettes and release a dose of dopamine might be strong, the urge for a happy, healthy sex life is a lot stronger for many men.
There is no better time to stop the smoking habit than now, according to Mayor Bloomberg and, more importantly, medical professionals across the country. With the help of your doctor, and a lot of determination, you can kick the habit for good. If the thought of a healthier heart and lungs isn’t enough to help you commit, then evidence of stronger, healthier, and larger erections might.
The benefits of a healthier body as a result of quitting smoking are well documented. But erection health issues may not be entirely solved by quitting for some men. For those with other underlying conditions, medications may help.
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