Understanding the risks of smoking and infertility
Studies have time and again revealed the negative effects associated with smoking, including increasing the risk for certain cancers, respiratory disease and heart disease. While most people are aware of the hazards, some are surprised to learn about the link between smoking and infertility. Our team of reproductive endocrinologists at Nashville Fertility Center urges their patients who smoke to kick the habit to help increase their chances for conceiving and carrying a healthy baby to term.
Smoking and infertility: How does it affect men and women?
Cigarette smoking impacts both a woman’s and a man’s fertility, and according to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, infertility rates in both male and female smokers are about twice the rate of infertility found in nonsmokers. What’s more, women who never smoke yet are exposed to regular secondhand smoke are more likely to experience problems getting pregnant than those who live in a smoke-free environment. Nothing good comes from smoking or being exposed to secondhand smoke, and it can affect fertility in the following ways.
Diminished ovarian reserve
As women age, their egg supply (ovarian reserve) naturally diminishes. Nicotine, cyanide, carbon monoxide and other harmful chemicals present in tobacco smoke speed up the depletion of a woman’s egg supply, causing menopause to occur an average of one to four years earlier in women who smoke.
Quantity, quality and motility are the parameters used to assess the health of sperm. Smoking has a negative effect on all three by lowering sperm counts, interfering with the sperm’s ability to move and increasing the number of abnormally shaped sperm. Smoking has also been shown to decrease the sperm’s ability to fertilize eggs.
Increased risk for erectile dysfunction
Chronic smoking is a major risk factor for developing erectile dysfunction. Smoking can damage blood vessels throughout the body, including those found in the penis, by causing them to become constricted with plaque build-up (atherosclerosis). As a result, blood flow that’s needed to achieve and maintain an erection is hindered.
Decreased success rates with IVF treatment
Smoking has the potential for producing unfavorable IVF outcomes in women, with smokers requiring nearly twice the number of IVF attempts to achieve a successful pregnancy. Statistically, smokers have 30% lower pregnancy rates compared to IVF patients who do not smoke.
The good news…
The good news is that quitting smoking can improve fertility. While quitting can be difficult, the key is finding the right resources and support. Contact us to learn more about smoking and infertility and how to preserve your fertility.