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
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. Compared to non-smokers, female smokers start menopause 1 to 4 years earlier.
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.
This post first appeared in 2013 and has been updated since.