Nashville Fertility

Smoking and Pregnancy

Why you need to stop smoking now for a baby later

By Glenn Weitzman, M.D., Nashville Fertility Center

Smoking and PregnancySmoking. We all know it’s bad for us, those around us and the environment. But if you’re a woman thinking about becoming pregnant, or even one who knows she’ll eventually want children, you may not know you’re harming your chances of having a baby if you smoke now.

At the Nashville Fertility Center, we hear from women who say, “I’ll stop smoking when I get pregnant,” or “I’ll stop smoking after my baby is born.” We have to caution, though — smoking and pregnancy don’t go together, and the time to stop is now!

Research on smoking and pregnancy

While I was on the faculty at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in Little Rock, I chose to do research on environmental toxins and their effects on reproduction. Working with renowned reproductive toxicology expert, Donald R. Mattison, we discovered just how damaging smoking and pregnancy can be.

In a study of mice, we found that the number of ovarian follicles (that store female egg cells and produce reproductive hormones) were greatly reduced in mice exposed to smoke. To put these results in human terms:

  • Women who are regular smokers go into menopause years earlier on average than women who are not smokers.
  • Even a smoker of as little as half a pack a day reduces her pregnancy rate by half that of women who are nonsmokers.
  • Smokers are basically “killing off” or accelerating the loss of eggs in their ovaries by exposure to just this one byproduct of cigarette smoke.

Talk to your doctor

At Nashville Fertility Center, we feel it is our obligation to give our patients the statistics on their lifestyle choices. I know if I was doing something that reduced by half my chances of a healthy pregnancy and baby, I’d want to do something about it! And this advice isn’t just for women … we work with all our patients, male or female, to optimize their chances of producing healthy families.

Whether it’s cigarettes, alcohol, or even marijuana (which also is not completely burned and produces toxins), the effect on reproductive health is damage to the quality of eggs, sperm and even embryos down the line.

I can’t encourage you enough to talk to your primary care physician or specialist now to combat the effects of smoking and pregnancy, or other lifestyle choices, to ensure better health for you and a future family.

And as always, you can contact us here at the Nashville Fertility Center to answer your questions.


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