There are so many elements of everyday life that negatively impact how much we have (and enjoy) sex—from our mental health and where we are in our menstrual cycle, to the contraception and medication we take.
And as one expert urologist has warned, cigarettes should be added to that list. Yep, according to Marc Laniado, smoking can lead to softer erections and potentially even shrinking penises. IKR.
Marc says if you have a male or penis-having partner and they smoke, this could cause erectile dysfunction (ED)—where someone can't get or maintain an erection. The first question he asks patients he sees who are living with ED is whether they smoke. And he sees people with this problem a lot.
"To have a firm erection, you need sufficient blood flow," Marc explains. "Smokers have a higher incidence of atherosclerosis [where arteries become clogged by plaque, fat and cholesterol] in all blood vessels, including those in the penis, which can reduce blood flow." This makes getting an erection more difficult, and it can affect how hard an erection is, too.
Marc says the men and penis-havers he sees often say their erections aren't as good, that they don't wake up with one, or that their penis doesn't get "as hard" when they're shagging. "The chemicals in smoke may also have an effect on firmness [as] nicotine causes blood vessels to become narrow. This can be temporary or—eventually—permanent," he adds.
Smoking can make your penis smaller
He also reckons smoking can cause the penis to shrink over time, and has seen patients who claim their penises are getting shorter. "Smoking stops the blood flowing through the penis, which stops the spontaneous and nightly erections that are needed to stretch the penis and keep it at a good length," he says. "Smoking can make your penis appear shorter, or in fact, become shorter."
Unfortunately, the most recent research that backs up his claims is from way back in 1998, when Boston University School of Medicine found smokers were more likely to have a shorter erection that non-smokers.
But another study from University of Arizona found men and penis-having people in their 20s and 30s were having less sex than their non-smoking counterparts. According to the researchers, this was partly down to worries about their sexual performance and a lower sex drive.
And if you're single...
If you're using dating apps to find a partner, it seems being a smoker could also seriously hinder your chances. A recent experiment by Change Incorporated—in which two Tinder profiles that were the same expect one featured pics of the person smoking—found people are way more likely to match with a non-smoker.
Of the two profiles, the non-smoker got 54 more matches over the course of the experiment.
Like you needed any more reasons to quit, right?
This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com/uk. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.