SMOKING is a major cause of impotence and low sperm count, a leading Welsh surgeon has warned as part of Men’s Health Week.

Professor Gareth Brown, consultant urological surgeon at the Royal Glamorgan Hospital, has urged male smokers to quit the habit or risk suffering erectile dysfunction and reduced sperm count.

He explained that smoking restricts blood flow, and said that it also affects the quality and quantity of men’s sperm, potentially leading to infertility in male smokers.


“I think with all the press and publicity today most people are aware of how unhealthy smoking is but they don't associate it with being a cause of erectile dysfunction," he said.

"We now know that smoking leads to a narrowing of the blood vessels caused by some of the chemicals inhaled, leading to erectile dysfunction.

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“It can also cause male infertility by affecting sperm production by reducing the quality and quantity.”

Professor Brown went on to say, however, that quitting smoking can reverse or reduce some of these effects.

“Stopping smoking can improve and in some cases may reverse the symptoms, particularly fertility and erectile dysfunction," he said.

"It depends on the quantity and duration smoked. Long term smoking has detrimental effects some of which cannot be reversed, however smoking cessation can stop symptoms progressing.”

A study carried out by researchers from Imperial College London in 2006, found that men who smoke a pack or more of cigarettes daily are nearly 40 per cent more likely to be impotent than non-smokers. Even smoking less than 20 cigarettes a day was found to increase the risk of impotence by 24 per cent.

Across Wales, 21 per cent of men smoke compared to 17 per cent of women. Smoking rates are highest in the most deprived areas the country - 28 per cent compared to 13 per cent in the most affluent areas.

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Suzanne Cass, chief executive of ASH Wales, urged male smokers to seek help to quit.

She said: “We know that breaking the cycle of addiction is a huge challenge for smokers. But our message to men is that they don’t need to suffer in silence.

“NHS Wales’ Help me quit service offers free tailored support to all smokers in Wales and is just a phone call or email away.”

For support to give up smoking contact Help Me Quit on 0800 085 2219.