Smoking and Trying to Conceive

The majority of couples are aware that smoking during pregnancy could result in complications, birth defects and a greater chance of having a miscarriage. Because of these reasons, most women who become pregnant try to quit, but smoking and trying to conceive could have a major negative impact on both female and male fertility. Smoking also increases the conception time of the couple.

If you are planning a pregnancy, you should consider stopping smoking, alongside other lifestyle changes, such as making sure that you have a healthy diet and eat the right foods and avoiding the bad foods. Reducing stress levels and cutting down on alcohol are also important considerations at this time.

Smoking and female fertility

Smoking is a major risk factor for a variety of health issues and is known to have a detrimental effect on the reproductive system. A series of studies discovered that women who smoke increase their chances of becoming infertile by 50% compared to non-smokers. Conception also takes more than a year for 42% of smokers. This is because ovarian death increases with smoking. Smoking diminishes your egg supply and the remaining eggs are more fragile.

Recent research has suggested that smoking may significantly shorten the reproductive lifespan of women, causing them to go through menopause at an earlier age than their non-smoking peers.

Research suggests that female smokers start menopause at an average of 2.5 years earlier than female non-smokers. While this gap may seem small, it can have significant consequences for a woman’s health. Women who go through menopause early are at a higher risk of developing certain long-term health conditions, such as osteoporosis. In addition, early menopause can have a negative impact on a woman’s quality of life, as she may lose some of her reproductive rights and abilities.

The exact mechanism by which smoking leads to earlier menopause is not yet fully understood. However, it is thought that smoking could accelerate the depletion of a woman’s egg supply. This hypothesis is supported by the fact that women who smoke tend to have fewer eggs than their non-smoking peers, indicating that the smoking could be having a direct impact on their reproductive system.

Although smoking is already known to be a health hazard, this new research adds to the evidence linking it to earlier menopause. Clearly, smoking is a major health risk which should be avoided whenever possible. Women who smoke should be made aware of the potential impact of their habit on their reproductive health, and should be encouraged to consider quitting before it’s too late.

Smoking and male fertility

Smoking has an impact on the sperm at the DNA level. Studies show that the chemicals found in cigarettes could bind with the DNA of the sperm, reducing  motility (sperm’s ability to swim). It can also cause fewer normally shaped sperm, and increased sperm DNA damage. Erectile dysfunction and reduced sperm counts have been linked to smoking. When combined, these problems make fertilisation and conception more challenging.

The benefits of quitting on fertility

When you quit smoking, it increases your odds of a quick conception, which is great news. In just two months of quitting, your natural fertility improves and within a year, the negative effects could be completely reversed. A healthier pregnancy is guaranteed for women who quit smoking before conceiving. Second-hand smoke has a similar negative impact on fertility. Therefore, if the couple are both smokers, it is vital for them to quit together. Do you live with a smoker? You should think about moving or finding ways to minimise being in contact with second-hand smoke.

Photo Credit:  “Smoke” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by Infomastern

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