There is a lot of confusion and misinformation about how smoking affects fertility. So, what are the facts? Is it the same for men and women? Is it actually worth quitting?
We are all aware that smoking is bad for the health generally. There is a huge campaign to make us aware of the risks, from respiratory problems to cancer.
What many people are less aware of, however, is the effect on the reproductive health. Whether you are planning to have a child in the future, actively trying to conceive or aren?t ready to start a family, evaluating the effect your smoking habit could have on your fertility is important. That’s before you even consider the impact of smoking on an unborn baby. Lots of people wouldn?t consider exposing their baby to cigarette smoke, but they don?t consider how smoking could make it more difficult to conceive in the first place. If smoking could make it easier or faster for you to conceive, it could save a lot of heartache as you try to get pregnant.
The Effects of Smoking on Fertility
First of all, there is a timing issue ? smoking can mean a woman reaches menopause sooner (on average 2 years earlier according to the NHS). This means that women who smoke may have less time in which to conceive.
The chemicals in cigarettes can cause damage to the female reproductive organs and the eggs. These same chemicals can also cause problems with ovulation in women and can result in hormonal imbalances in men.
Men who smoke tend to have a lower sperm count, and often sperm motility problems too so that there are fewer sperm and they move less efficiently.
Smoking increases the chances of a man experiencing erectile dysfunction.
There has been extensive research on the effects of smoking on fertility, and the evidence does show, very strongly, that for couples where one or both partners smoke, it can take longer to conceive, and the risk of infertility is higher.
If you smoke, and you are worried by how much it could be affecting your fertility, then don?t panic. The risks are higher if you are a heavy smoker or have been smoking for a long time. Female fertility can improve just 2 months after quitting smoking and for men, stopping smoking is the easiest and most effective way to improve fertility, with improvements taking longer but sperm count increasing very dramatically for many.
A few months after quitting the habit the sperm count starts to increase. By quitting smoking, you can also rest a little easier when you do conceive ? your risk of miscarriage will also be lower, and your baby will be getting a much better start in life. Studies show that passive smoking poses a risk to an unborn child, and when your baby is born, even a smoker who is not actively smoking around your child can pose a risk to your child from the chemicals and smoke in their clothes and hair.
While smoking can have a big effect on fertility, stopping can have a big effect as well. Making the decision to quit smoking will make it easier to conceive and easier to provide your baby with a safer start in life ? what bigger motivation could there be for kicking the habit?