A large percentage of the male population smokes. Fairly common in a lot of men, smoking is a bad habit that is difficult to let go. Notably, smoking is very harmful to your health and can affect the quality and quantity of sperm production in men.
This article aims to point out just how harmful smoking can be to your sexual health. After going through this, you may need to make some lifestyle changes to improve your overall health.
What Is Smoking?
Smoking refers to the practice in which substances undergo burning and the resulting smoke is inhaled. Smoking is a fairly common practice, both in men and in women. Additionally, a number of plant materials like marijuana and hashish can be smoked as well. But, the term “smoking” most commonly refers to smoking tobacco.
Tobacco is a major constituent of cigarettes. It contains nicotine, an alkaloid substance that has stimulative, tranquilizing, and addictive effects. One cigarette stick contains about 600 active ingredients.
Research has shown that burning one cigarette stick results in the release of over 7,000 substances. It can lead to different effects that affect both the smoker and the people around them in close proximity.
In cigarette smoking, the combustion of dried leaves or powder vaporizes and delivers active substances into the lungs. One of these substances is nicotine, which can increase your blood pressure once it enters the bloodstream.
Why Do People Smoke?
Different men have different motives for smoking. There can be several reasons why they start smoking in the first place, as well as why they struggle with putting a halt on this habit.
When you attempt to quit smoking, your body will inevitably react to the loss of not just nicotine, but also to its pleasurable effects on your brain. Withdrawal symptoms can consequently arise from such loss. These symptoms include irritability, having trouble sleeping, having trouble concentrating, a change in bowel habits, restlessness, and depression.
Going through these withdrawal systems can make it difficult for people to quit smoking. As a result, people often resort back to their old ways and continue smoking.
Many smokers may have started their habit as teens. They may have started under the guise of wanting to just “try it out.” For others, smoking could have been a result of peer pressure. An outgoing person who is always in the company of regular smokers might feel pressured to join, especially in social settings.
Influence from Media
In the past, the ads and promotions put out by tobacco companies were a big influence on society. Cigarette ads targeted towards men, like the Malboro Man advertisements from 1954, glamorized the manly image of smoking.
Today, cigarette ads are more heavily regulated in the mainstream. However, tobacco use is still promoted in a lot of mainstream media that much of the youth has access to. Forms of mainstream media like movies and television shows continue to paint the act of smoking as something smoking and cool. This can be especially dangerous for impressionable teens who may want to emulate what they see in the media, even if it can be harmful to their health.
Quite a number of men use smoking as a tool to obtain some form of relief for their tension, anxiety, or stress. The pleasant effects that come from the consumption of cigarettes eventually become a coping mechanism for stress.
Harmful Effects Of Smoking To The Body
Most people have heard that smoking increases the risk of lung cancer and heart diseases. It’s worth noting that when smokers put an end to their smoking habit, there can be a significant drop in these health risks. Here are some effects of smoking on one’s health:
Changes in The Central Nervous System
Nicotine has a significant effect on the brain. The consumption of nicotine causes the release of chemicals in the brain, which result in changes in nervous function, thought processes, and so on.
The active substances in cigarettes enter the brain and cause a release of adrenaline. This creates a burst of energy and pleasure that wears down quickly, making the smoker yearn for more. Some smokers experience temporary relief from tension, anxiety, or pain.
With frequent smoking, the body will begin to develop a reasonable level of tolerance for these substances. Consequently, the smoker would then need increasing quantities of said substances in order to achieve the aforementioned pleasurable effects. This constant reliance on cigarettes is known as addiction.
Trying to withdraw from this reliance is commendable. However, it can cause impairments in cognitive functioning leading to anxiety, depression, restlessness, headaches, and even sleep problems.
Respiratory System Damages
When you light a cigarette, the smoke and gases produced in the combustion process are inhaled into your system. This can greatly damage the lungs, as the act of smoking drains the excess mucus in your lungs that protect the organ in the first place.
Furthermore, smoking increases the risks of developing lung cancer and other chronic irreversible lung conditions. These can include emphysema, chronic bronchitis, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Such diseases manifest with respiratory distress or difficulty, chronic cough, wheezing, and discomfort.
Digestive System Damage
Smoking increases the risk of mouth, larynx, esophageal, colon, and pancreatic cancer. It can also put you at risk of Type 2 diabetes by causing insulin resistance.
Smoking and Male Fertility
Smoking exposes men to dangerous chemicals and substances like cadmium and lead, which have been shown to cause infertility. Although researchers say that smoking alone may not be the sole cause of infertility, they agree that it does aggravate a man’s chances to reproduce and is a significant cause of infertility.
How does smoking affect male fertility, then? Nicotine narrows the arteries and causes a reduction in blood flow to the genital area in men, resulting in reduced sexual performance. Moreover, nicotine also decreases the quality and quantity of sperm that a man produces, which can ultimately lead to reduced fertility.
Most men might not even be aware that fertility can be a major factor in halting their smoking habits. Some of the effects of smoking on sperm include:
A Decrease in Sperm Concentration
Smoking can cause a reduction in the number of sperms present in a measured quantity of semen. The number of sperm produced per ejaculation is very important in determining if a man is fertile or not. Notably, studies have shown a 23% decrease in sperm concentration in male smokers.
A Decrease in Sperm Motility
Motility refers to the ability of the sperm to move or swim in the female genital canal to reach the egg and fertilize it. Smoking can decrease sperm motility by 13%. This is a noteworthy rate, as sperms with low motility can be a reason for infertility.
Damage to Sperm Morphology/Shape/Structure
Male smokers have sperm that is significantly less healthy than sperm in male non-smokers. Oddly-shaped sperm can’t swim properly to get to the egg and fertilize it.
Damage to DNA
Several studies have found that smoking can cause serious damages to sperm DNA. This results in congenital anomalies or abnormalities in the fetus. Doctors would often advise male smokers to quit if they are seeking fertility care or are trying for children with their partners.
Damaged sperm DNA can even affect your spouse or partner, as it can result in problems with fertilization, embryo development, and embryo implantation. It also increases the possibility of miscarriages in women.
Without a doubt, smoking affects people not just physically, but mentally, socially, and emotionally as well. While the effects of smoking may not be immediate, the complications and damages can last for years and can be life-threatening in the long run. The best approach to avoiding the harmful side effects of smoking is by quitting it as soon as possible.
Quitting smoking will not be easy, though. It will take time for you to overcome the addiction and your body will take time to adjust. If you really are planning to quit for your own health’s sake, take note that the recovery process will not be a linear one. Some people may turn to self-help books. For others, going cold turkey might not be so manageable without professional help. Nevertheless, so long as you’re making an effort to quit, you’re already on the road to recovery. Good luck!