Smoking and Your Fertility
Smoking Has a Negative Effect On the Ability of a Couple to Conceive
Today, the health risks of both tobacco smoking and breathing in second hand smoke are well known. We know the effects of smoking on the heart, lungs, and blood vessels. However, though the medical profession has been aware of the substantial effects of smoking on fertility, the public seems to be in the dark on this issue. It's time to spread the word that smoking has a negative effect on the ability of a couple to conceive and to carry a pregnancy to term.
All of the scientific research to date supports the fact that smoking has an adverse effect on fertility. The rate of infertility among smokers is higher. Those smokers who do conceive take much longer to do so. The fact is that active smoking by either partner has this effect, and the effect is not much lessened when the exposure to smoke is 'only' second hand.
Smoking Damages a Woman's Ovaries
There is an indication that smoking damages a woman's ovaries. Just how much damage is incurred depends on the length of time a woman has been smoking as much as how many cigarettes a day she smokes. It seems that smoking accelerates both the loss of eggs and reproductive function. It becomes more and more clear that smoking also brings on the onset of menopause much sooner; by several years, in fact. Chemicals in tobacco smoke have been proven to interfere with the ability to manufacture estrogen and can predispose a woman's eggs to genetic abnormalities.
Spontaneous miscarriage and ectopic pregnancies occur with greater frequency among smokers. Smokers require two times the attempts at in vitro fertilization (IVF) than nonsmokers and require higher doses of gonadotropins to stimulate their ovaries. They also have lower peak estradiol levels, fewer eggs obtained, and more canceled cycles. The adverse impact of cigarette smoking is seen to be greater in older women. It's possible that assisted reproduction may not be able to counteract the negative effects on smoking on reproduction.
Men who smoke have a lower sperm count and the sperm they produce has less motility, and a greater incidence of abnormalities of shape and function.
One important study showed that quitting smoking for two months prior to attempts at IVF greatly improved the chances of conception. Long-term smoking can have a lasting effect on female reproductive function, but the adverse impact of smoking on fertility therapy may be reversed by having the couple stop smoking prior to treatment.