Nicotine and sexual desire
Background. Nicotine has vasocongestive effects, and laboratory studies show that, in both sexes, it can decrease genital arousal in response to erotica. However, epidemiological studies have been revealing that smoking does not appear to pose a risk for female sexual dysfunctions nor for erectile dysfunction in male light smokers. Moreover, some studies suggest that nicotine may increase sexual desire by increasing the activity of the central dopaminergic system. Thus, the present study aimed at testing if sexual desire and sexual frequency differ between smokers and nonsmokers.
Method. The non-clinical sample consisted of 351 Portuguese of the Lisbon area, Portugal (230 women, 121 men), who were recruited through the university participant pool to enter a study on factors in sexual behavior (mean age = 24.61 years, SD = 6.65, range = 18 – 58). In addition to smoking habits, participants reported how many days in the past month they had penile-vaginal intercourse (henceforth intercourse), noncoital sex, and masturbation, as well as how many days in the past month they desired to have the same sexual behaviors. They also reported how satisfied they were with their sex life using the sexual satisfaction subscale of the Life Satisfaction Scale.
Results. Among the female subsample, 77% were nonsmokers, 16% smoked less than 10 cigarettes a day, 7% smoked more than 10 cigarettes a day. Among the male sample, 66% were nonsmokers, 21% smoked less than 10 cigarettes a day, 13% smoked more than 10 cigarettes a day. Female smokers reported more days in which they desired intercourse (M = 11.98, SD = 9.34) than female nonsmokers (M = 8.03, SD = 7.93), partial eta squared = .039, p = .003. Male smokers reported more days in which they desired intercourse (M = 18.58, SD = 8.95) than male nonsmokers (M = 14.26, SD = 9.42), partial eta squared = .047, p = .019. Female smokers reported more actual days of intercourse (M = 5.92, SD = 7.51) than female nonsmokers (M = 3.47, SD = 5.88), partial eta squared = 027, p = .014. Male smokers (M = 6.56, SD = 6.69) reported more days of actual intercourse than male nonsmokers (M = 3.05, SD = 5.00), partial eta squared = .082, p = .002. There were no differences between smokers and nonsmokers regarding sexual satisfaction, desire for noncoital sex, desire for masturbation, noncoital sex frequency, and masturbation frequency.
Conclusions. The present findings corroborate the notion that nicotine increases motivation for intercourse, albeit not facilitating genital arousal.