Most people understand there are many health risks when it comes to smoking, but don't realise how much of an effect it can have on sexual health. It can affect fertility, contraception, risk of cancer. We've got information on this and how to stop smoking.

Smoking and sexual health

Smoking can affect your sexual health in a number of ways including altering your menstrual cycle, your risk of cancer, and even your libido.

Women smokers may experience more painful and irregular periods, with period pain lasting longer. Smoking hardens blood vessels around the clitoris and vagina, which may reduce sexual pleasure.

Smoking increases the health risk of women who are using the combined hormonal methods of contraception (the contraceptive pill, the contraceptive patch, and the IUD).

About 30% of deaths from cervical cancer are related to smoking. Surgical procedures for cervical cancer may affect a woman’s ability to orgasm. Vulvar cancer is a rare condition but affects twice as many female smokers compared to non-smokers.

Smoking and fertility

Smoking significantly reduces a woman’s chance of conceiving. In general, the longer a woman smokes, the longer it will take for her to get pregnant.

Male smokers are at least 50 percent more likely to become impotent than non-smokers. Smoking affects both semen (cum) and sperm, reducing sperm quality and mobility and this in turn reduces fertility.

Stopping smoking

Quitting smoking is not an easy thing to do. However, many people quit smoking for good every day and there are lots of free resources available from the NHS to help you with this on their Smoke Free website.

  • Talk to your GP: Your GP can give you lots of help to stop smoking. This includes enrolling you in a ‘stop smoking’ clinic and prescribing nicotine replacement or stop smoking medication
  • Join an NHS Stop Smoking Service: These are available all over the country and you can join a group or get one-to-one support. They can help you when you want help with not lighting up, dealing with cravings, or talking about how you feel. Find your local Stop Smoking service
  • Get a free ‘Quit Kit’: The kit has lots of practical tools and advice to help you stop smoking. Order your free quit kit
  • Call the Smoke Free National Helpline on 0300 123 1044 and speak to a trained, expert advisor. Lines are open Monday to Friday 9am to 8pm and Saturday and Sunday 11am to 4pm in England only
  • Consider using nicotine replacement therapy (NRT): If you’re struggling with nicotine cravings, NRT can help you manage Nicotine withdrawal. This comes in lots of different forms including patches, gum, lozenges, microtabs, inhalators and nasal sprays. NRT is available from your GP on prescription or from your local NHS Stop Smoking Service. You can also buy NRT products from a pharmacy. For more information about NRT, visit the Smokefree NHS website
  • Join an online stop smoking community such as Quit Support on Health Unlocked with the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation

For more inspiration on giving up smoking, watch Laura’s story:

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