Smoking combustible cigarettes has been shown to negatively impact fertility. The effects of smoking on fertility have been described by the Centers for Disease Control and other health authorities in the following ways:
- Reducing the likelihood of conception
- Negatively affecting hormone production
- Causing harm to the reproductive system
- Causing damage to DNA contained in sperm
If you or someone you know is seeking to conceive and continues to use combustible cigarettes, seeking help with smoking cessation is highly recommended.
Combustible Cigarettes and Fertility
Tobacco and fertility reduction is a well-known correlation. For years, medical authorities have focused their public awareness outreach efforts on the general effects of combustible cigarettes on health and warned expecting mothers to abstain from the habit.
But little has been publicly said about the loss of reproductive health that all combustible cigarette smokers are known to suffer. As a result, it can come as a surprise for couples hoping to have a baby that smoking before pregnancy may have reduced their chances of success. For this reason, health experts are now focusing on spreading awareness of this problem.
The central claim of these efforts is simply that smoking reduces the chances of a successful conception and pregnancy in multiple ways. Further, a couple in which only one partner smokes may have trouble conceiving. But when both partners smoke, the problem is compounded dramatically.
How Cigarettes Impact Fertility in Males and Females
For couples in which one partner smokes, getting pregnant will be more difficult by approximately 50%. Couples in which both partners smoke are likely to suffer anywhere between a 60 to 90 per cent reduction in fertility rates. For a healthy couple that has unprotected sex two to three times per week, pregnancy should occur once a year. For smokers, the rate is reduced to 0.5 pregnancies per year or lower.
In females, smoking degrades the health of the lining of the womb. This makes it less likely that a conception will result in a viable pregnancy. In males, smoking hinders the mobility of sperm, making a successful conception less likely. It is also believed that smoking damages the DNA contained in a man’s sperm. This means that smoking combustible cigarettes for men may not only reduce the likelihood of pregnancy but also increase the likelihood of birth defects.
Couples who have regular unprotected sex that do not become pregnant after one year are considered infertile. This is true for both women and men whether or not they have had children previously or not.
Furthermore, smoking also reduces the chance of a successful In Vitro Fertilization, (IVF).
Tobacco and Fertility in Men
We’ve talked a little about the negative effects of smoking on male fertility, but this is not well understood by the vast majority of people. Most of the time when we think about fertility issues, we think of female fertility.
But it is best to think of fertility in terms of the partnership and not in terms of two separate individuals. As the saying goes, it takes two to tango, and it takes two healthy adults to make a truly fertile pair.
Smoking reduces the overall quality of a man’s sperm. It reduces the strength of the sperm cells themselves. When weakened, sperm cells cannot swim with the power or agility they need to make it to the ovum and fertilize the egg.
Smoking can cause men to have fewer sperm, or to have a low sperm count. This means that even if the sperm he has are healthy, there is a reduced chance of pregnancy.
Smoking also reduces the swimming pattern of a man’s sperm cells. This means they do not have the ability to direct themselves toward the ovum effectively.
All of this can add up to male infertility. Male infertility is the condition in which a man is unable to impregnate his female partner.
How Cigarettes Impact Fertility When Only One Partner Smokes
Cigarettes and fertility are negatively correlated in general. This means wherever the smoking of combustible cigarettes is taking place, fertility is lower and the chances of a successful pregnancy are reduced.
This means that if you are male or female, and only you smoke or your partner smokes combustible cigarettes, you are together still less likely to achieve a pregnancy. The reasons for this are well known by the medical community, but not by the general public, unfortunately.
Breathing in the smoke generated by another person who smokes nearby is known as second-hand smoke or passive smoke. Part of the reason passive smoke is so dangerous is the fact that the person receiving it may think that he or she is not a smoker and does not need to worry about the harmful effects.
However, even passive, second-hand smoke can reduce the chance of pregnancy. It can cause all of the reproductive harm discussed above. But of course, trying to conceive with a smoking partner is also more difficult.
If you are the one who smokes in your relationship, you now understand how cigarettes impact fertility. You have the unique opportunity to improve your own reproductive health and your partner’s at the same time by quitting as early as possible.
Will Quitting Improve My Fertility?
The good news is that all of the harms described above are usually reversible. In the vast majority of cases, a healthy person can become fertile again by quitting smoking four months or more before attempting to become pregnant.
Quitting smoking can improve the strength, quality, and swimming pattern of the man’s sperm. It can improve the health of the womb lining, making a conception capable of becoming a viable pregnancy. Perhaps most importantly, it can reduce the risk of permanent impotence over time.
Take Advantage of The Support Built Into Your Relationship
If you are in a loving relationship and both of you want to have a child together, then you have a great opportunity to quit smoking combustible cigarettes together. Any addiction is easier to beat if you have the support of someone who cares about you. This benefit is even stronger in a mutually loving relationship. Use this built-in mutual support to kick the habit and achieve your goal of building a family together.
Finally, it may help to understand that smoking reduces oxygen levels in the blood, and blood oxygen levels are the strongest indicator of health outcomes across all categories. What’s more, smoking combustible cigarettes fills the body with carcinogenic toxins. This means that not only will your body be less able to heal, but it will be more susceptible to all manner of harm, and of course, this includes your reproductive health.