Smoking Harms Sex Lives, Sperm Quality
TORONTO, Sep 29 (Reuters Health) -- Men who smoke not only have poorer
sperm quality than nonsmokers, but also have lower sex drives and
less frequent sex, investigators are reporting here at the joint
annual meeting of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine
and the Canadian Fertility and Andrology Society.
Dr. Panayiotis Zavos, professor of reproductive physiology and andrology,
University of Kentucky, Lexington, and colleagues at other centers
recruited 290 couples undergoing evaluation for infertility at the
Andrology Institute of America. On their initial visit, couples were
asked to complete a questionnaire detailing their smoking habits,
and their marital and sexual history, including how often they had
sex and their level of sexual satisfaction.
"In all couples that participated in the study, the females
were nonsmokers," the investigators note. In contrast, in 158
couples, the male partners smoked at least 30 cigarettes a day and
had smoked for more than 7 years.
Results from the questionnaire revealed that where the male partner
smoked, the couple had been trying to conceive for 3.1 years compared
with 2.6 years for nonsmoking couples, an observation that researchers
felt was "biologically significant."
Smokers also reported having sex only 5.7 times per month compared
with nonsmokers who had sex 11.6 times per month. "This is a
very dramatic effect," Zavos told Reuters Health.
Nonsmoking couples also reported significantly greater satisfaction
with their sex life, giving it an 8.7 on a scale of 0 to 10, 10 being "extremely
satisfactory." In contrast, smoking couples gave their sex life
a 5.2 rating on the same scale, the researchers note.
Results from semen analyses also revealed the quality of spermatozoa
from nonsmokers was superior to that of smokers both in terms of
sperm viability and longevity.
Investigators do not yet understand how smoking affects both the
quality of sperm and the male's sexual habits, but they postulate
that smoking might impair spermatogenesis secondary to various hormonal
alternations caused by smoking. Alternatively, toxic substances from
cigarette smoke may end up in the seminal plasma.
"The irony here is that it costs up to $40,000 in the US for
couples seeking infertility treatment and they still smoke," said
Zavos. It also does not help if the woman herself is a nonsmoker,
he added, because if she co-habits with a smoker, "she's a smoker,
"The cheapest and most efficient way of improving infertility
difficulties is to quit smoking," affirmed Zavos. "And
if (couples) stop smoking immediately, that would probably be the
first gesture (they could take) towards treatment for infertility."