In addition to the increased risk for heart and lung disease, smoking also effects fertility in both men and women. Even if you don’t smoke, but your partner does, exposure to 2nd hand smoke has the same health risks as if you did smoke.
Effects on Eggs:
- The chemicals in cigarette smoke (nicotine, cyanide and carbon monoxide) speed up the loss rate of eggs in a woman. In other words, a woman who smokes loses her eggs at a faster rate than a non-smoker. A woman is born with a fixed number of eggs, and these eggs can’t regenerate, so menopause occurs 1-4 years sooner in women who smoke than non-smokers.
- These chemicals also cause a woman’s eggs to be more prone to genetic abnormalities.
Effects on Sperm:
- Men who smoke can have lower sperm quality as seen by lower numbers of sperm (counts), lower swimming ability (motility) and higher numbers of abnormally shaped sperm (morphology).
- Smoking may also decrease the sperm’s ability to fertilize eggs.
Effects on ability to conceive (become pregnant):
- Women who smoke do not conceive as efficiently as nonsmokers. Infertility rates in both men and women smokers are about twice the rate of infertility found in nonsmokers.
- Even fertility treatments such as IVF may not be able to fully overcome smoking’s effects on fertility. Women smokers need more ovary-stimulating medications during IVF, still have fewer eggs at retrieval, and have 30% lower pregnancy rates compared with IVF patients who do not smoke.
- Because smoking damages the genetic material in eggs and sperm, miscarriage and birth-defect rates in babies are higher among people who smoke.
- Smokeless tobacco also leads to increased miscarriage rates.
Studies have shown that women who quit smoking 2-3 months prior to a treatment cycle wil increase their chances of success. While quitting can be very difficult, there is help through support groups and your health care provider. Below are some free resources to get you started on the path to quitting and increasing your chances of becoming pregnant.