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How smoking can drag down your sex life

LIGHTING up could be slowing you down in the bedroom.

A US study suggests that men who successfully stopped smoking improved on lab measurements of sexual health more than those who relapsed after a quit-smoking programme, showing that smoking may be affecting the sexual health of men who consider themselves perfectly all right in bed, researchers said.

"With younger men, the risks of smoking in that population appear more far off. They think, 'I don't really need to worry about this until much farther down the road'," said study author Christopher Harte, from the VA Boston Healthcare System, who published findings in the British Journal of Urology International.

Harte and co-author Cindy Meston from the University of Texas at Austin enrolled 65 men without self-reported impotence in an eight-week quit-smoking programme using nicotine patches.

Before treatment, halfway through and a few weeks after, they brought the men into a locked lab and showed them a racy film.

While they watched, men kept track of how aroused they were and a device measured how physically aroused they were. Separately, they also filled out surveys about their sexual function outside of the lab, including questions about desire and sexual satisfaction.

By the end of the study, there were 20 men that hadn't lit up in at least a week, while 45 men were still smoking.

Quitters saw a greater increase in penile growth, measured by width and not length, compared to non-quitters. By their own scoring, those men also reached their peak level of arousal sooner than men who were still lighting up.