The Consequences of Smoking on Fertility
If you pay attention to media or visit the doctor, then you likely are already aware of the detrimental effects smoking has on your general health. Smoking drastically increases your risk of developing a number of unfavorable health problems including cardiovascular diseases, lung diseases, and cancers of almost every part of the body. With this terrible health track record, it should come as no surprise that smoking is also bad for the reproductive system.
In the event of a pregnancy, individuals who smoke experience higher risk of ectopic pregnancy and miscarriage, endure more health concerns during pregnancy, and their babies have an increased risk of health problems, such as genetic disorders. In addition, cigarette smoke also puts babies at increased risk of sudden infant death syndrome.
Smokers, both male and female, are more likely to have fertility problems than non-smokers, and they require longer to achieve pregnancy.
Effects of Smoking on Male Fertility
Sperm requires three months to develop inside a man’s reproductive system. Smoking or secondhand smoking (passive smoking is just as detrimental to health) three months prior to conception can negatively affect you and your partner’s chances of conceiving, the health of your sperm, and the health of your baby. In addition, smoking hinders the function of the reproductive system’s blood vessels, making male smokers twice as likely to struggle with erectile dysfunction. Smoking also adversely affects male fertility by:
- lowering sperm count
- reducing and hindering sperm motility
- genetically damaging sperm
- causing a hormonal imbalance
For the health of your sperm and your baby, after you stop smoking, three months is the ideal period to wait before conceiving. Your fertility and chances of successful conception, however, will begin to improve immediately after you quit.
Effects of Smoking on Female Fertility
No matter which partner is the smoker, if one or both of you smoke, it will take longer for you to conceive. Just as smoking can damage the health of sperm, smoking also causes damage to eggs and the female reproductive organs. To ensure your health and that of your future baby, we strongly encourage you and/or your partner to quit smoking. Smoking adversely affects female fertility by:
- damaging reproductive organs
- creating issues with ovulation
- genetically damaging eggs
- prematurely inducing menopause
- increasing risk of miscarriage
- increasing risk of ectopic pregnancy
- increasing risk of gestational diabetes
- increasing risk of hypertension (high blood pressure) during pregnancy
Two months after quitting smoking or no longer being exposed to secondhand smoke, women begin to see noticeable improvements in fertility and chances of conceiving.
Fertility and Your Future Baby’s Health Improve After You Stop Smoking
Although some effects of smoking on health are irreversible, studies have shown that fertility does improve after dropping the habit. Most individuals see improvements about two months after quitting and have a greater chance of conceiving.
In addition, abstaining from tobacco during pregnancy is essential, as use can harm the health of your baby. Not only is the air you breathe, the air your baby breathes, but smoking’s adverse affects on your health and the chemicals which tobacco use introduces into your body can harm your baby’s health and hinder proper development.
Dangers of Secondhand Smoke
If you do not smoke, remember that secondhand smoke can be just as detrimental to your general health, your reproductive health, and the health of your baby as smoking firsthand. If you are trying to become pregnant, are expecting, or have a baby, make a point to stay away from tobacco smoke and request that anyone living close to you quit.
If you or your partner is or was a smoker and you have been trying unsuccessfully to achieve pregnancy for twelve months or more, we encourage you to speak with our doctor at Viera Fertility Center. We can help you pinpoint your individual challenges with conceiving, provide treatment options, and help you achieve pregnancy and enjoy the life you want to live.