The Impact Of Smoking On Fertility

It is no secret that smoking has profound effects upon the health, affecting the heart and lungs as well as blood vessels. Cigarette smoking can also have a very negative impact on a woman's ability to conceive and carry a pregnancy and a man's sperm production.

Active And Passive Smoking Causes Harm

A woman who smokes requires considerably more time to conceive than a woman who does not smoke. The incidence of infertility is much higher among women who smoke. Active smoking has many well-known adverse effects and passive smoking, also known as second-hand smoke, registers only slightly lower on the scale when it comes to causes of infertility. A woman's ovaries are harmed when she smokes and the degree of harm depends upon how much and how long she has been smoking. Also linked to smoking is the loss of eggs and reproductive function.

How Tar And Nicotine Affect Women And Unborn Babies

The components of nicotine and tar (the chemicals found in burning cigarette tobacco) interfere with estrogen production and cause genetic abnormalities in a woman's eggs. Scientists believe that smoking may impair fertility by as much as 30 percent. There is a strong association with miscarriage and a possible link with ectopic pregnancy for women smokers. Not only is the woman affected, her unborn baby is at risk for low birth weight and premature delivery. One very alarming aspect is the increased risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) in households where someone smokes.

Men Aren't Off The Hook

Men who smoke cigarettes have fertility issues when it comes to sperm production and motility, and viability of sperm. Smoking causes the blood vessels to constrict and in so doing affects blood flow to the reproductive organs. This means they are unable to function properly and the quality and quantity of sperm is at risk. On top of that, men who smoke can be a source of passive smoke to women causing an indirect impact upon their fertility.

Fertility Treatments Can Be Negatively Affected

When a couple is unable to conceive and carry a pregnancy and decide to have fertility treatments, it is important that they stop smoking at least two months before attempting IVF. Just as smoking is a harmful risk to the general health of both men and women, and is an obstruction to conception, smoking affects assisted reproduction (ART). It takes nearly twice as many in vitro fertilization attempts for a couple who smokes to conceive than for those who are non-smokers. Higher doses of ovary stimulating drugs are required and the number and quality of eggs is less and poorer. Should the couple conceive during IVF, the risk of miscarriage and pregnancy failure is high.

Although many of the effects of smoking are not reversible, there is hope. By kicking the habit, further reproductive damage can be prevented.