How Smoking Affects Fertility In Men And Women

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By Alex Haley

Updated on

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The health impacts associated with smoking cigarettes are widely known. Smoking heightens the risk of cancer and many other chronic illnesses. They cause damage to almost every part of the body, impacting the body’s capacity to heal and increasing mortality rates. The effects of cigarettes can manifest in appearance, with premature aging and stained teeth and fingers. The Guardian also reports that cigarettes are associated with worsening mental health.

With all these adverse effects smoking has on the body, you may wonder how it impacts fertility. Here’s what you need to know.

What effects does smoking have on fertility?

Smoking affects all aspects of the reproductive process for both men and women.

A study published by the NIH states that cigarettes in women affect the production of estrogen, disrupting reproductive health. Smoking can damage the eggs, ovaries, and the womb’s lining. It may also heighten the chances of ectopic or tubal pregnancies. If a woman is already pregnant, smoking can affect fetal development. She may experience a higher likelihood of premature delivery, which can lead to a greater risk of eating, breathing, and health problems for the baby. Cigarettes can also lead to stillbirths, miscarriages, or even sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

In men, cigarettes may decrease the quality of semen. This can result in reduced sperm concentration, diminished motility, and fewer normal-shaped sperm. It may also increase sperm DNA damage. Moreover, men’s smoking habits can impact their partner’s fertility. A woman whose partner smokes is more likely to pick up a cigarette. Being exposed to secondhand smoke can also increase infertility and menopause in women.

What can you do to combat the effects of smoking?

Even small doses of smoking can affect your fertility, so the best thing you can do is quit altogether. Although smoking can be a hard habit to break, some effective nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) products have been proven to help you gradually quit smoking. Easing out your habits by slowly lowering your dose is more effective than going cold turkey as it reduces your dependence on cigarettes.

Nicotine replacement can come in the form of adhesives, like nicotine patches. They also come in inhalable forms, like the Voke nicotine inhaler. It provides smokers with familiarity by mimicking the hand-to-mouth motion required by cigarettes. These inhalers are smokeless despite needing to be sucked on to extract their nicotine content. Nicotine alternatives also come in oral forms, like nicotine pouches. If you haven’t heard of nicotine pouches before, don’t worry. A post on Prilla discusses that they are just as effective as other smokeless nicotine products because they have a lower overall nicotine amount than snus or snuff. They also deliver nicotine just as quickly and offer a similar concentration. They hold no significant adverse effects on the user.

Whichever one you choose, you can be sure that it will facilitate your smoking cessation efforts.

How long will it take to see improvements?

Once you quit smoking, you may wonder how long it will take before fertility improves. Our post ‘How to Increase Fertility in Women Naturally’ stresses that any amount of smoke will never be good for fertility. The longer you go without cigarettes, the better it will be for your reproductive health. This is why you should consider quitting smoking as soon as possible.

If you do so, Cleveland Clinic’s 2019 article ‘How Stopping Smoking Boosts Your Fertility Naturally’ explains that within three months, both men and women will see improvements in their reproductive health. Women take 90 days to produce the egg that is released during their menstrual cycle. This means that the egg they will ovulate in three months will start forming once smoking cessation begins. Spermatogenesis, the creation of new sperm in men, also takes three months. That being said, men who quit smoking can expect to see improvements in their reproductive health within the same timeframe.

Regardless of when you begin, quitting cigarettes will always lead to a more positive development in your health and fertility. If these are your goals, then it’s never too late to quit.

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about the author

Alex Haley is a specialist in bio-information and operations. Alex has an interest in the field of genetics, with a focus on genome sequencing. When not working, Alex enjoys reading about scientific developments that may be relevant to her work or studies. When she's at home, she spends time with her family and friends. She also likes to read books about science fiction and fantasy worlds where anything is possible!