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What's the link between smoking and premature ejaculation?

The impact on your sex drive might just be enough to have you buying some nicotine patches.

Written by
Ronelle Richards
Medically reviewed by
Dr Vincent Mok
Last updated
April 22, 2024
min read
What's the link between smoking and premature ejaculation?
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No one likes to talk about premature ejaculation, but it's much more common than you might think.

In fact, it's one of the most common sexual dysfunctions faced by men in Australia. Between 20 to 30 per cent of the population experience premature ejaculation.

Hollywood movies used to regularly show actors in bed smoking a post-coital cigarette, which might be where we got the idea that smoking helps you last longer. But, some evidence suggests the reverse is true and that smoking has been linked to impotence.

Forget the hoarse voice and stench of stale smoke. The impact on your sex drive (not to mention the reported physical impacts on your kids) might just be enough to have you buying some nicotine patches. Read on and you might just feel like quitting smoking.

What are the causes of premature ejaculation?

First, it's worth taking a step back and looking at exactly what is premature ejaculation. Some may be confused between premature ejaculation, loss of libido and erectile dysfunction.

The simplest definition of premature ejaculation is a lack of control over ejaculation that happens sooner than a man (or his sexual partner) may want. Premature ejaculation can cause distress for the man and even tension in a relationship.

Premature ejaculation is often diagnosed if you face one of the following issues:

  • Unable to delay ejaculation during intercourse all or almost all of the time
  • Ejaculate within one minute of penetration all or almost all of the time
  • Avoid sexual intimacy from severe distress and frustration at premature ejaculation.

Premature ejaculation can also happen during masturbation, oral and other sexual situations. It can be considered to be lifelong or primary if it occurs nearly all of the time starting from your very first sexual encounter.

If it begins after previous sexual experiences with no premature ejaculation problems in the past, you likely have the acquired or secondary classified premature ejaculation.

It's worth noting that the exact cause of premature ejaculation isn't strictly known, it is thought to be a combination of complex biological and psychological factors. Let's look at both.

Biological causes can include hereditary traits, abnormal hormone levels, abnormal levels of neurotransmitters (brain chemicals) or inflammation of your prostate or urethra, as well as erectile dysfunction.

The psychological factors can be complex and varied for premature ejaculation. There could be something from your earlier sexual experiences or a history of sexual abuse.

Poor body image, depression, anxiety (and performance anxiety), as well as the stress of worrying or feeling guilty about your premature ejaculation, can all be contributing factors.

Can smoking affect ejaculation?

Smoking habits carry many health risks for people. This is pretty general information that isn't going to surprise anyone.

Cigarette smoke has the ability to damage almost every part of our bodies causing health problems such as cancer and other serious diseases. We all know the risks of lung cancer associated with smoking, but did you realise the impact it can have on your penis?

The chemicals or toxic substances in cigarette smoke damage the lining of your blood vessels impacting the way they function throughout the body. Blood vessels play an important role in erections.

The nerves in your penis respond to sexual arousal from the brain and send signals to the arteries in the penis that expand and fill with blood. If your blood vessels are unhealthy from smoking habits it may not be physically possible to get an erection.

Your ability to get an erection becomes harder and harder (no pun intended) and the risk of premature ejaculation rises. Poor blood vessel health can be a risk factor for a number of health problems like heart disease, Alzheimer's disease, nervous disorders and more.

The negative effect of tobacco products on the health of smokers compared to a non-smoker is huge.

But, how does smoking cigarettes cause premature ejaculation? Smoking actually reduces the amount of nitric oxide in the body which is associated with having premature ejaculation.

The impact of nicotine on sexual function has been known by researchers for quite some time and is thought to impact sexual function even using smokeless tobacco or isolated nicotine.

Smoking always has health risks. Men who quit smoking report improved sexual function, a boosted sex drive and report fewer problems with premature ejaculation or erectile dysfunction.

Does smoking make you last longer in bed?

The short answer is no. Quitting smoking improves circulation and decreases the likelihood of erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation.

Research shows no evidence that cigarette smoking makes you last longer or improves your sexual performance.

However, there is some evidence that marijuana users tended to report that physical sensations of sex were heightened and there was a belief that sex with marijuana use lasted longer — even if it didn't actually last longer.

The study found reports from men and women that marijuana had tender and slow sexual experiences, and that the distortion of time had them perceive the sex to last longer.

The study also compared marijuana to alcohol, showing higher levels of regret from alcohol-fuelled sex, and again, no evidence of longer-lasting sexual intercourse. It's worth noting this was a relatively small study that involved self-reporting.

Does smoking influence fertility?

A 2016 study found that men who smoke had more inflammation in the reproductive tract including the testes.

This resulted in damage in the sperm, including DNA fragmentation, dysfunctional mitochondria (the sperm’s energy powerhouse), and defective acrosomes (the bit at the tip that helps penetrate the egg during fertilisation).

Other studies have suggested that sperm DNA fragmentation could also lead to health problems in their children.

How to treat premature ejaculation?

There are a variety of premature ejaculation treatments on the Australian market, but getting a clear diagnosis from a doctor is the first step in overcoming premature ejaculation.

There have been two popular behavioural techniques associated with premature ejaculation the 'stop-start' and the 'squeeze'.

  • The former Semans technique is based on learning to control sensations prior to the actual ejaculation. Bring yourself close to ejaculation, stop, rest and repeat. This helps condition you to learn your own personal 'point of no return'.
  • The latter Masters and Johnson technique (named after the famous sex researchers immortalised in the TV show Masters of Sex) involves squeezing the end of the penis right before ejaculation to lessen the urge to finish. The squeeze exercise can be completed solo or with a partner.

Another physical exercise you can look at is the Kegel exercises, which are designed to strengthen the pelvic floor. The pelvic floor is pretty critical in keeping your body strong, so strengthening it makes sense.

The easiest way to identify your pelvic floor muscles is to stop peeing mid-stream. This is the action you are looking for to try and contract the muscles. Hold this contraction for around 10 seconds and repeat for 10 sets daily.

Premature ejaculation can also be heightened by psychological factors. Consulting with a counsellor, psychotherapist or sex therapist can be very beneficial in getting to any underlying anxieties about sexual intercourse.

A willingness to find the root cause of your premature ejaculation plays an equally important role in getting treatment for your PE and improving your sex life.

At Pilot, we offer personalised premature ejaculation treatment plans that are designed for you by one of our Australian practitioners.

The journey starts with an online consultation to determine how PE is affecting your life. This is reviewed by a local practitioner who then formulates a treatment plan based on your specific circumstances.All consultations take place online, so there's no need to worry about an in-person appointment.

Premature ejaculation, erectile dysfunction and other sexual problems don't have to ruin your quality of life. Help is available and we're here to assist you in any way we can.

Photo credit: Universal Pictures

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