Effects of smoking cessation on sexual health in men
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Cigarette smoking represents the most preventable cause of morbidity and mortality in the world today, and is responsible for enormous health-related economic burdens. Among other medical sequelae, erectile impairment has been shown to be associated with chronic tobacco use. The primary aim of the present study was to provide the first empirical investigation of the effects of smoking cessation on physiological and subjective indices of sexual health. Sixty-five long-term, heavy smoking men participated in a smoking cessation program and were assessed at baseline (while smoking regularly), at mid-treatment (while using a high dose nicotine transdermal patch), and at 4-week follow-up. Physiological and subjective sexual arousal indices, as well as self-reported sexual functioning (as measured by the International Index of Erectile Functioning (IIEF)) were assessed during each visit. Intent-to-treat analyses indicated that at followup successful quitters (n = 20), compared to those who relapsed (n = 45), showed significant improvements in physiological and subjective sexual arousal. Specifically, men demonstrated enhanced erectile responses, decreased latencies to reach maximum erectile capacity, and faster onset to reach maximum subjective sexual arousal. Although participants displayed across-session enhancements in self reported sexual function, successful quitters did not show a differential improvement compared to participants who relapsed. The results of the present investigation provide the first empirical evidence that smoking cessation significantly enhances both physiological and self-reported indices of sexual health in long-term male smokers, irrespective of baseline erectile impairment. It is hoped that these results may serve as a novel and enticing means to influence men to quit smoking. Increasing successful smoking cessation in men would significantly enhance quality of life, substantially reduce premature death, and alleviate enormous economic burdens caused by smoking-related diseases.