4 surprising ways nicotine, cigarette smoking impact your sex life backed by science

There are very few vices I love more than smoking – marijuana and cigarettes specifically. While the former has added to my sex and personal life immensely, the latter has recently become the prime suspect in the arousal problems I’ve experienced lately.

In an attempt to verify my suspicions against tobacco smoking, I’ve done some research. All I can say is, wow!

People always rant about tobacco destroying your lungs, but, long before that, it’s slowly diminishing your life in many other ways. Here are some of the most common and shocking ways tobacco smoking can affect your sex life.


Lower Sexual Arousal

Right off the top, nicotine has been scientifically shown to slow and prevent sexual arousal in humans no matter what your genitals look like.

This has been well studied for decades in people with penises, but only recently in those with vaginas. Funny enough, the arousal of lambs was also shown to be effected by nicotine a whole 11 years before the first study on people with vaginas. Thanks patriarchy.

The basic idea is this: when your mind or body is stimulated by nicotine, it makes it more difficult for other kinds of arousal to take place.

I have experienced this first hand and it’s an easy fix. Just put about 2 hours between your last nicotine intake and the start of sex. You’ll still have trouble with repeated nicotine use, but like, if you’re not going to stop smoking, it should help.

It should be enough to let the nicotine work its way out and let you get on with you sex life.


Softer erections

Nicotine is what’s called a vasoconstrictor (vaso = vascular = veins and blood vessels). It also contains chemicals that disrupt the regulation of erections in the brain.

My Psych of Sex 1 teacher at EMU Pam Landau likes to say “whatever desire can inspire, drink can shrink.” While I’ve found drunk erections to be a little softer and orgasms harder to achieve, but nothing has made me shrink more than smoking nicotine.

Studies have shown that smoking just 2 cigarettes can cause softer erections.

“Evidence that long-term cigarette smoking is an independent risk factor for introducing impotence is robust,” according to this study from the University of Texas at Austin.

Effects may not show up immediately, but can build over time. So, you could be setting yourself up for ED in the future and it may be permanent.

On the bright side, if you stop using nicotine, you’re likely in for “wider, firmer erections.” So, that’s something.

People with vaginas don’t think you’re immune. Erection plays an important role in your pleasure, too.


Higher anxiety

While sex has been known to get your heart racing, nicotine is a stimulant highly likely to increase your heart rate.

This can cause a lot of different problems, but the main one is that it sets you up for anxiety – especially if you don’t know why your body feels panicked.

Emotions and feelings are different, but they influence each other. Even if you’re not feeling anxious, if you’re body feels like it is, you will too.

This is the #1 reason I’ve cut down on smoking myself.

I’m prone to anxiety when taking stimulants. Smoking puts me on edge and makes everyday things seem much more troublesome.

In bed, this means I’m more worried about things. It means I have a hard time focusing, even if I’m really enjoying what’s happening.

If you’re a smoker and find this happening to you, again, put a significant amount of time between your last smoke and sex. This will actually be easier to solve with time as the effects fade quickly.

Give your body time to settle back down and you should find it much easier to relax and have fun in bed.



Now, I am stringently anti-judgement, but it’s always to remember that smoking is still highly stigmatized. Assholes the world ‘round will go out of their way to let you know how much they’re offended by your habit – especially when dating.

I’m not saying you should stop smoking because of this, but just beeee preeeeepaaaaaaaaaaaaaared to tell them to fuck off, if needed.

It’s always a good skill to practice, but we often like to change ourselves for other people. You don’t have to stop smoking to be treated well.


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