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How Does Smoking Affect Fertility?

How does smoking affect fertility?

Table of Contents

Smoking has negative effects on male and female fertility. It is not only harmful to the general health of humans, but it can also disrupt the fertility of women and men. Smoking increases the risk of cancer, heart disease, emphysema (loss of lung tissue), and other health problems. In addition to the lungs, the toxic substances in cigarettes affect the whole body’s health, including fertility.

Studies have shown that smoking is associated with a decrease in sperm count, morphology, and sperm movement, and as a result, it affects male fertility. The rate of male infertility in those who smoke moderately to heavily is more than those who smoke less.

Smoking may make it more difficult to get pregnant because it can negatively affect a woman’s reproductive system, including the number and quality of eggs and the menstrual cycle.

Smoking during pregnancy can also cause health problems for the mother and fetus and increase the risk of pregnancy complications.

Smoking and male fertility

Smoking and male fertility

The toxins in cigarettes affect not only the lungs but the whole body’s health. This includes the reproductive system.

Most importantly, smoking has a negative effect on sperm health in men. Male smoking is associated with reduced IVF success rates and possibly increased miscarriage rates. Cigarette smoke can also harm the female partner’s fertility.

Studies on male smoking have shown a decrease in semen quality. Men who smoke have been observed to have decreased sperm concentration, decreased motility, decreased normal sperm, and increased sperm DNA damage. A more detailed review includes the following:

  • Sperm concentration: Sperm concentration refers to the number of sperm in a measured amount of semen. Studies have shown a 23% decrease in sperm concentration in male smokers.
  • Sperm DNA: Some studies have shown that the sperm of smokers has increased DNA fragmentation. DNA-damaged sperm may lead to problems with conception, embryo development, implantation, and increased miscarriage rates. Men who smoke may also have abnormal hormone levels that can affect fertility.
  • Sperm morphology: Sperm morphology refers to the shape of sperm. Oddly shaped sperm may not swim well enough to reach the egg and fail to fertilize the egg. Men who smoke have less healthy sperm than non-smokers.
  • Sperm motility: Sperm motility refers to the swimming abilities of sperm. If the sperm cannot swim properly, they may have trouble reaching and fertilizing the egg. In male smokers, researchers found a 13 percent decrease in sperm motility.

How does smoking prevent male fertility?

Toxins in cigarettes are often blamed for bad health effects. Smoking exposes men to high levels of cadmium and lead, metals linked to reduced fertility. Lead levels are significantly higher in infertile smokers than in fertile and infertile non-smokers.

Heavy smokers (those who smoke 20 or more cigarettes per day) have higher levels of cadmium in their semen. But these toxins may not be the only cause. Zinc levels may play a role.

Smoking men with lower zinc levels in their semen also had poor sperm concentration, motility, and shape. On the other hand, in smokers with normal sperm zinc levels, there were still problems with sperm concentration, motility, and morphology, but the degree of abnormality was less.

Smoking and female fertility

Women who smoke are 60% more likely to suffer from infertility than non-smokers. There are a number of links between smoking and fertility problems that make it difficult for the body to achieve or support pregnancy.

Smoking and Ovulation

In research studies, it has been found that smoking disrupts the normal function of the ovaries, reducing the concentration of key female hormones and reducing the number of mature eggs that can be fertilized. It introduces toxic substances into women’s ovaries that can kill eggs and reduce their overall number. Female smokers enter menopause earlier than their non-smoking counterparts.

Even if these substances do not destroy the eggs, they can reduce the overall quality of the eggs and cause them to grow abnormally if fertilized. This reduction in quality can make it more difficult for doctors to retrieve healthy eggs for in vitro fertilization (IVF).

Ectopic pregnancy

One of the most important aspects of the effect of smoking on the reproductive system is that it increases the incidence of a serious complication called ectopic pregnancy. This type of pregnancy occurs when the fertilized egg implants outside the uterus, usually in one of the fallopian tubes. As a result, the fertilized egg cannot survive, and the pregnancy cannot continue because any growth can rupture the fallopian tube or damage other tissues.

The more a woman smokes before conception, the more likely she is to have an ectopic pregnancy. Quitting smoking before trying to get pregnant is the best way to reduce this risk actively.

Effect on the biological clock

Some studies have shown that smoking not only causes problems in fertility but also leads to a future fertility decrease.

Men produce new sperm throughout their lives, but women are born with all the eggs they will ever have. Once those eggs are damaged, there is no going back. Smoking may reduce the total number of eggs a woman has in her ovaries and cause premature aging of the ovaries.

Toxins in cigarettes may also cause DNA damage to ovarian follicles, where eggs normally mature. This premature aging of the ovaries and reduced number of eggs may lead to early menopause, up to four years earlier than normal.

Smoking and conceiving

Smoking may increase the time it takes to get pregnant compared to non-smokers.

The number of cigarettes a person smokes daily may also affect how long it takes to get pregnant. The higher number of cigarettes smoked is associated with delayed conception.

Women who smoke are 54% more likely to become pregnant 12 months later than non-smokers. Smoking can also negatively affect IVF. This research shows that smokers may need almost twice as many IVF cycles to conceive as non-smokers. Additionally, smokers retrieve fewer eggs per IVF cycle and have lower fertilization rates.

Can smoking during pregnancy affect the fetus?

Smoking during pregnancy can have negative effects on the health of the child. According to a trusted source from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, smoking during pregnancy may lead to:

  • Miscarriage
  • Ectopic pregnancy
  • Premature labor
  • Low birth weight
  • Congenital anomalies, such as cleft lip or palate
  • Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
  • Problems in fetal development

Other complications that may occur as a result of smoking during pregnancy include:

Secondhand smoke

Secondhand smoke

Secondhand smoke may also negatively affect fertility and chances of getting pregnant. Exposure to secondhand smoke may have similar effects to active smoking during pregnancy.

Secondhand smoke can expose people to harmful substances in tobacco smoke, which may cause problems during pregnancy and the fetus. Regular exposure to secondhand smoke during pregnancy may increase the risk of low birth weight.

What about chewing tobacco?

In general, smoking is more harmful to overall health than chewing tobacco. However, However, chewing tobacco is far from harmless. The risk of oral cancers, respiratory cancers, and cardiovascular diseases is higher.

Studies have shown that heavy chewing can negatively affect the concentration, motility, shape, and viability of sperm. Whether it is sufficient to reduce fertility is not known.

Erectile dysfunction and smoking

Smoking is strongly associated with an increased risk of erectile dysfunction. The more a man smokes, the more likely he is to suffer erectile dysfunction.

Erectile dysfunction is not the same as infertility. However, if sexual performance is difficult, getting pregnant will not be easy. Quitting smoking appears to improve performance. One study found that after six months of quitting smoking, just over 50% reported improved sexual performance.

Tips to quit smoking before pregnancy or when you find out you are pregnant

Tips to quit smoking before pregnancy or when you find out you are pregnant

Some things can help you quit smoking.

Find a program to help

Talk to your doctor about a program that can help you quit smoking. If you are pregnant, they may advise you to try other ways to quit smoking before using nicotine replacements or medication.

Clean house

Put away your cigarettes, ashtrays, and lighters. Clean your house and clothes to get rid of the smell of smoke.

Also, remember that vaping before and during pregnancy should not be used as a substitute for smoking. Nicotine use, in any form, during pregnancy can affect your baby’s brain and lungs as they develop. Cigarette substitutes also contain chemicals that can be harmful.

Change your routine

Plan how to deal with your cravings when you feel the urge to smoke. For example, if you’re smoking in the car, listen to audiobooks or podcasts to distract you. You can also eat tart candies or chew non-nicotine gum.

Crowd source

Quitting smoking should not be done alone. You can get support from a range of sources, whether they are friends who used to smoke or counselors or support groups for smokers. People who use online, group, or individual counseling are much more likely to quit smoking.

Cut down if you can’t completely quit

While it’s best to quit smoking completely before you get pregnant if you’re pregnant or facing unusually difficult obstacles to quitting, reducing the number of cigarettes you smoke daily can still make a difference.

Congratulate yourself

Quitting smoking is hard. Pregnancy and early parenthood can also be difficult. You’re tackling big things, so remember to congratulate yourself on every accomplishment, even if it seems small.

The bottom line

Smoking harms almost all aspects of fertility and reproduction in men and women. Smoking affects male fertility by reducing sperm quality and erectile dysfunction. Women experience irreversible damage to their ovarian reserve and several other negative effects from smoking. Smoking reduces the chances of a successful pregnancy and increases the time it takes to get pregnant.

Quitting smoking is difficult, but the positive effects on fertility and overall health are enormous. Smokers should seek help quitting smoking if necessary and consider fertility supplements to overcome nutritional deficiencies caused by smoking.

Additional questions

  1. Does smoking put a person at risk of cervical cancer?

Yes, smoking can cause cervical cancer. This type of cancer occurs in the cervix, the narrow, lower end of the uterus, creating a channel between the uterus and the vagina. The risk of cervical cancer decreases within a few years of quitting smoking.

  1. How much smoking is too much?

While smoking can be easily justified, even the smallest amount can be harmful. A study of more than 50 years of smoking data found that even one cigarette a day increased the risk of heart disease and stroke. Other research found negative effects on fertility even in women who said they smoked just a few cigarettes daily.

  1. What is normal sperm morphology?

A typical sperm has a smooth, oval head 5-6 µm long and 2.5-3.5 µm wide, a well-defined cap (acrosome) that covers 40% to 70% of the sperm head.

  1. Does nicotine affect nutrition?

One of the functions that nicotine affects is the body’s ability to maintain proper levels of nutrients. The absorption of vitamins and minerals is also reduced by nicotine, and they are more likely to be depleted from the body’s stores.

  1. What nutrients do smokers need?

Vitamin C, folate, vitamin A, and vitamin E are often deficient in the diet of smokers. Vitamins C, A, and E are powerful antioxidants needed to offset some of the damage caused by inhaling large amounts of free radicals.