Smoking and Infertility
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Smoking and Infertility

Smoking and Infertility

Most people understand the health risks of tobacco smoking are well known with regard to diseases of the heart, lungs, and blood vessels.  However, many may not realize that smoking can also lead to problems with fertility in both men and women. Erectile dysfunction and pregnancy complication rates are also increased with smoking.

 How smoking affect eggs or sperm

Chemicals in cigarette smoke speed up the loss rate of eggs and once eggs die off, they cannot regenerate or be replaced. This means that menopause occurs few years earlier in women who smoke compared with non-smokers. Male smokers can suffer from decreased sperm quality with lower sperm counts and motility of the sperm, and increased numbers of abnormally-shaped sperm. Smoking might also decrease the sperm’s ability to fertilize eggs.

Effect of smoking on female reproductive system

  • The risk of infertility among smokers may be twice that of non-smokers.
  • Conception delay: It takes significantly longer time for smokers to get pregnant than non-smoker.
  • Early menopause: Menopause occurs one to four years earlier in smoking women than in non-smokers.
  • Ovarian reserve: Smoking has a negative impact on egg quality.
  • Smokers require nearly twice the number of IVF cycles to conceive as nonsmokers.
  • Smokers need higher doses of fertility drugs (gonadotropins) for stimulation for in vitro fertilization cycles than non-smokers.
  • Smoking affects the ovarian response to fertility drugs during IVF treatment.
  • Smoking may cause both chromosomal and DNA damage in egg and sperm.
  • Early pregnancy effects.  Smoking is associated with an increase in spontaneous miscarriage in both natural and assisted conception cycles.
  • Lower sperm counts are found in men whose mothers smoked compared to men whose mothers did not smoke.

Effect of smoking on male reproductive system

  • Smokers have sperm counts that are about 22% lower than non-smokers.  Smoking also affects sperm motility and morphology (shape).
  • Smoking may affect sperm function even in men with a normal semen analysis. The ability of the sperm to fertilize an egg is adversely affected.

In summary, the more you smoke the higher risk of affecting your fertility; both your ability to get pregnant and the time it takes to get pregnant. Smoking should be discouraged both male and female partners with history of infertility or recurrent miscarriage. Stopping smoking at least three-months prior may improve your natural conception and your success rate with fertility treatments.

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