Smoking and Infertility
Smoking tobacco is associated with a decreased potential to produce a pregnancy.
According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine virtually all scientific studies support the conclusion that smoking has an adverse impact on fertility. Compared to non-smokers, infertility is more common, and the time it takes to conceive is longer. This is true for passive cigarette smoke exposure as well as for active smokers.
A review of the effects of smoking on female fertility found that virtually every aspect of the reproductive process is affected by smoking. Smoking had a negative impact on
- ovarian hormone production,
- egg production,
- egg maturation,
- ovulation and
Studies have even found that the fallopian tubes are less able to capture the egg at the time of ovulation, less able to transport the embryo to the uterus and that the likelihood for an embryo to implant is reduced.
Research also indicates that the degree of harm caused by cigarette smoking is dependent upon the amount and the period of time a woman smokes. Smoking appears to accelerate the loss of eggs and reproductive function and may advance the time of menopause by several years.
A 2015 study of almost 90,000 women found that compared to women who never smoked, those women who reported being active smokers at some point in their lives were 14% more likely to have infertility and 26% more likely to enter menopause early.
Even secondhand smoke causes infertility
Women who never smoked but were exposed to the most secondhand smoke were 18% more likely to have problems getting pregnant and to enter menopause at an early age, compared to women who never smoked and were exposed to the least amount of secondhand smoke.
Smoking causes IVF failure
Nearly twice as many in vitro fertilization (IVF) attempts are required to conceive in smokers than in nonsmokers. Studies of IVF have reported that female smokers require higher doses of fertility drugs to stimulate their ovaries. Even when taking higher doses of fertility drugs, these women don’t produce as many eggs and have their IVF cycles canceled more often. They require more embryos to be transferred into the uterus to get as many pregnancies as in women who don’t smoke.
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Cigarette smoking and miscarriage
Smoking during pregnancy is the cause of several complications including low birthweight, placental abruption, and sudden infant death syndrome. However, 14% of pregnant women and 23% of women of reproductive age report being smokers. Secondhand smoke exposure is even more prevalent, with 37% of pregnant women being exposed. A recent review of 50 medical studies found that any active smoking was associated with a 23% increased risk of miscarriage. This risk was greater (32%) when smoking was during the pregnancy itself. The risk of miscarriage increased with the amount smoked. Secondhand smoke exposure during pregnancy increased the risk of miscarriage by 11%.
Cigarette smoking and infertility in men
Men who smoke cigarettes have a lower sperm count and motility and increased abnormalities in sperm shape and function. Men can also be a significant source of passive smoke to women causing an indirect on their fertility as well.