Quit Smoking For Greater Fertility

Today, we well know the risks involved in cigarette smoking as well as the risks to our health from being exposed to second hand smoke. We know what smoking does to our blood vessels, heart, and lungs. But while medical experts have long been aware of the significant and deleterious effects of smoking on fertility, the rest of us have had no idea that smoking impacts on our fertility. There is a need to inform the public that smoking can harm a couple's ability to conceive and have a successful pregnancy outcome.

Not Gender-Specific

Scientific research has shown that smoking does have a harmful effect on fertility. Among smokers, the rate of infertility is a great deal higher than in the general population. Smokers who do manage to become pregnant take longer to conceive. The impact of smoking on fertility is not gender-specific, either. Nor is the effect lessened in those who don't smoke but are exposed to second hand smoke, instead.

There is evidence that supports the idea that smoking can damage the female ovaries. The amount of damage depends on how many years a woman has smoked as well as the number of cigarettes she smokes each day. Smoking speeds up the depletion of the ovarian reserves and with this, the accompanying loss of reproduction function.

Every day, the link between smoking and the early onset of menopause becomes clearer. Experts now believe that smoking can bring on menopause even many years earlier than expected. Many of the chemicals found in tobacco smoke have been demonstrated to block the body's ability to make estrogen, the female hormone. As such, a woman's eggs become vulnerable to genetic abnormalities.

More Attempts

Not yet convinced? Tubal (ectopic) pregnancies and spontaneous miscarriages occur more often in women who smoke. Smokers often need two times the number of attempts at IVF (in vitro fertilization) in comparison with nonsmokers. They will also need higher doses of ovary-stimulating gonadotropins for each attempt. Smokers are beset by lower peaks in estradiol levels, produce fewer viable eggs, and have a higher number of canceled IVF cycles.

These adverse effects of cigarette smoke are exacerbated in older women trying for a baby. It may be that assisted reproduction techniques (ART) may not be effective in counteracting the effects of smoking on the reproductive abilities of the older woman.

Men who smoke have lowered sperm counts and the sperm they do produce has poor motility. There is also a greater prevalence of sperm abnormalities related to both sperm shape and sperm function.

One major study found that women who quit smoking for a period of two months before attempting to conceive via IVF, have a significant improvement in their conception rates. While the effects of smoking for many years may not be reversible in terms of the effects on a woman's reproductive system, it seems that if a couple quits smoking before treatment, their chances of conception through IVF are enhanced.

The upshot is that quitting smoking offers you a chance to conceive.

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