It’s widely known that smoking is bad for us and can lead to cancer, heart disease and many other health problems. Most people also know that you should never smoke when pregnant. But what about before pregnancy?
Smoking can negatively affect fertility in both males and females and it can affect the body in each stage of reproduction. When considering fertility, we need to look after our bodies to ensure that they are as healthy as possible, as a healthy body means a healthy reproductive system and a healthy baby.
So, it’s important to quit smoking as soon as possible, waiting until you get pregnant isn’t sufficient and may have long-term effects on your fertility and baby.
• Women who smoke are twice as likely to be infertile and it is associated with taking much longer to get pregnant, and an increased risk of miscarriage.
• Smoke contains toxic chemicals such as nicotine, cyanide and carbon monoxide, which can increase the rate at which a female loses her eggs. As women are born with all the eggs that they will ever have, this is irreversible. Meaning smokers can reach menopause between 1 – 4 years earlier than non-smokers.
• Smoking can also harm the DNA (genetic material) in eggs, which is transferred to the baby
• It can also affect the fertilised eggs’ ability to reach the uterus
• Smoking can affect women’s hormone production
• The environment inside the uterus can also be affected by smoking and may disturb how a baby can grow
• Smoking can increase the risk of an ectopic pregnancy (where a baby starts to grow outside the uterus). This is incredibly dangerous for both baby and mother
Quitting smoking will increase your fertility and ensure a healthier baby. For other tips on how to increase fertility in women read our full article.
Yes, smoking can reduce fertility in men also, by:
• Damaging the DNA in sperm
• Decreasing sperm quality and motility (the way it moves)
• Reducing the amount of sperm a man produces
• Reducing the ability of sperm to fertilise an egg
• Reducing hormone production
• Making it difficult to get and keep erections
Men produce sperm continuously and they take roughly three months to mature, so it’s important to quit at least three months before trying to conceive.
As smoking decreases fertility in both men and women, you should quit smoking if you are considering fertility treatment. As even IVF may not be able to overcome the reduced fertility effects caused by smoking.
Read our guide on how to prepare for IVF.
There is no healthy amount to smoke, all smoking including second-hand smoke which can have serious health and fertility risks. So, it’s important that you and your partner give up smoking if you want to conceive. Quitting smoking gives immediate health benefits and your fertility will start to improve promptly too.
If you want to quit smoking, make a plan and get support from either a loved one or a support group, and always remind yourself of your reasons for quitting. Don’t drink alcohol, if you are trying to conceive you should look at reducing your alcohol intake anyway, as it negatively affects your fertility. Alcohol may also make you want to smoke more.
Nicotine replacements, such as patches or gum can be a temporary way to help you to stop smoking. However, it is never advised to continue with these if you become pregnant.
Although there is some research to suggest that e-cigarettes and vaping are less harmful than smoking cigarettes, they can still be harmful to your fertility and potential future child. You should try to avoid smoking altogether.
At The Evewell we can help you along your fertility journey as we are fertility and gynaecology experts. If you are worried about your fertility please get in touch and we can help. Contact us on 020 3974 0950 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.