A smoking habit is harmful, and this has been scientifically proven for many decades. Smoking is linked to an increased risk of various cancers, heart conditions, and innumerable chronic health problems, including reproductive health. Sadly, many women are unaware that smoking can increase their risk of miscarriage, as one recent survey of women of childbearing age showed only 30% knew it could increase their risk of miscarriage. Even fewer were aware smoking can hinder their fertility (10%). The link between fertility struggles and smoking is well-established, and smoking may be responsible for fertility problems in as many as 13% of couples, and infertility rates may be twice as high in smokers versus nonsmokers.
How Smoking Impacts Fertility
Knowing the facts about smoking and fertility can keep you well-informed and healthy. It’s important to know that both men and women can see the reproductive harm done by smoking. For men, the effects may include decreased sperm count, reduced sperm quality and motility, and even erectile dysfunction. For women, the chemicals in cigarettes (including nicotine, cyanide, and carbon monoxide) can make it more difficult for her to conceive for a variety of reasons.
Smoking may cause the following fertility problems in women:
- Fallopian tube blockages
- Increased risk of ectopic (tubal) pregnancy
- Damage to eggs that speeds up the loss rate (eggs cannot be regenerated or replaced once lost)
- Increased risk of miscarriage
- Changes to the uterine lining that make healthy embryo implantation less likely
- Premature aging of the ovaries that can lead to earlier menopause
Sadly, even fertility treatments like in-vitro fertilization may be ineffective at overcoming the impacts of smoking on fertility. Female smokers require ovary-stimulating medications and have fewer eggs at retrieval time compared to women who do not smoke.
Is There Hope?
You may feel as though you might as well continue smoking if there’s no turning back, especially if you’ve had a pack-a-day habit for years. Promising research has shown how fertility rates improve within one year of quitting, and for women, quitting smoking can improve her egg quality within 3 months. While it is very challenging to taper off from a smoking addiction, many smoking cessation medications are proven to be effective in helping people give up smoking.
Remember, your goal should be to create a healthy environment for welcoming your baby. You should give up smoking before you decide to try conceiving rather than smoking until you get pregnant and then attempting to give it up cold turkey. You will enjoy a much healthier, happier pregnancy that is easier on your body and the growing baby’s. It’s best for the entire family’s future if you give up smoking before you decide to become a parent.
If you are not a smoker, but your partner is, consider helping them quit. There are many good reasons to give up smoking, and telling your partner their addiction may be what is keeping you from growing your family may be the perfect motivation to get them to quit. That’s because secondhand smoke can impact your fertility and threaten your pregnancy, and some studies suggest that even male fertility can be impacted by secondhand smoking. This doesn’t even include the terrible harm secondhand smoking can inflict on babies who are exposed to it.
Don’t give up hope: Many women try to quit 3 times, on average, before they’re finally able to give up the habit for good. To book a consultation with our fertility specialist, please call 888.819.5177or reach out online to get in touch.