Tobacco smoking and sexual difficulties among Australian adults: a cross-sectional study

Sex Health. 2017 Aug;14(4):313-319. doi: 10.1071/SH17005.


Background Few studies have examined smoking and female sexual difficulties. The aim of this study was to investigate the association between current tobacco smoking and sexual difficulties in Australian men and women.

Methods: Data for this study came from the Second Australian Study of Health and Relationships (2012-13), which includes a representative sample of 18427 sexually active Australian adults (aged 16-69 years). The main study and outcome measures were tobacco smoking and sexual difficulties. A multiple logistic regression analysis was conducted to adjust for potential confounders.

Results: Male heavy smokers (>20 cigarettes per day) were significantly more likely than non-smokers to have trouble keeping an erection [adjusted odds ratio (AOR) 4.14, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.87-9.20; P<0.0001], lack interest in having sex (AOR 2.18, 95% CI 1.20-3.97; P=0.011), have anxiety about performance (AOR 2.46, 95% CI 1.24-4.86; P=0.010) and be unable to come to orgasm (AOR=2.81, 95% CI 1.23-6.42; P=0.015). Female smokers were also significantly more likely than non-smokers to not find sex pleasurable (AOR 1.48, 95% CI 1.05-2.07; P=0.025); and light female smokers were significantly more likely than non-smokers to be unable to come to orgasm (AOR=1.44, 95% CI 1.05-1.98; P=0.025).

Conclusions: Current tobacco smoking was associated with sexual difficulties in both men and women. For women, even light smoking was associated with not finding sex pleasurable and being unable to come to orgasm.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Australia / epidemiology
  • Cigarette Smoking / epidemiology*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Erectile Dysfunction / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Libido
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Odds Ratio
  • Performance Anxiety / epidemiology
  • Sex Factors
  • Sexual Dysfunctions, Psychological / epidemiology*
  • Tobacco Smoking / epidemiology
  • Young Adult