Smoking and Fertility: Risks and Damage
- Posted on: May 12 2014
If you are a smoker and are thinking of starting a family soon, then the best path to take is to quit right away. Don’t keep telling yourself you can do it after the baby is born (males) or as soon as you get pregnant (females).
The point is to ensure that you do manage to conceive, and chances are reduced when you are a smoker. If you smoke many cigarettes a day or having been a smoker for many years, your fertility is bound to have declined considerably already, due to the toxic chemicals present.
Problems Caused by Smoking
- Damage to reproductive organs
- Poor ovulation
- Congenital illness risk is increased at birth
- Low birth weight for the baby
- Premature menopause
- Greater risk of miscarriage
- Increased risk of cancer
Smokers who try fertility treatments are likely to have to undergo longer periods before achieving success due to all the problems listed. Babies born to smokers are also at greater risk for allergy, asthma, and other physical or even mental illnesses. Moreover, even second hand smoke can be quite dangerous to a new born, increasing the risks of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome or SIDS.
Male Partner Smoking
If you are trying to get pregnant, do not smoke, but even if just your spouse smokes, this is still a risk factor. Second hand smoke can affect your chances of getting pregnant. The damage from the poisonous chemicals is as bad as being a smoker yourself. Exposure to smoke even for a few weeks can be damaging. Research has shown clearly that men who are smokers tend to be less fertile than men who are not. The study was done on 53 heavy smokers and 63 nonsmokers who were spouses of couples seeking help with fertility and conception at a clinic in Iowa.
Researchers have identified that there is genetic damage in the sperm of smokers. The sperm in a normal, healthy male has two proteins, protamine 1 and protamine 2, which are in perfect balance. In smokers, protamine 2 is present in more amounts, creating an imbalance and increases susceptibility to genetic illness and problems with DNA. When these damaged sperm were injected into healthy eggs, fertilization did not occur, and even when it did, the rate of miscarriage was seen to be quite high.
The study found that smoking damaged the ability of the sperm to fight off the free radicals, which could cause significant damage and increased the risks due to oxidative stress factors. Additionally, men with fertility problems, with a smoking habit, have a higher number of free radicals than men who aren’t smokers.
Study Shows Smoking Cessation Increases Fertility Success
Another important study also found that when smoking cessation occurred in the couple trying fertility options, such as IVF, there was greater success for conceiving. The impact of smoking on fertility is greater on women who are over the age of 30 years. The reduction of fertility that occurs on account of smoking cannot be addressed or improved using methods of artificial reproduction. Smoking has also been seen to be linked to increased risks of miscarriage in women and also of ectopic pregnancy occurring.
The amount of smoking, and the period for which women have been smoking, also affect the degree of damage and problems that may occur with fertility. Smoking tends to accelerate damage to eggs, menopause, and loss of eggs. The chemicals present in the body when a woman smokes have been shown to interfere with production of important hormones associated with fertility such as estrogen, which in turn can cause genetic abnormalities in the eggs of the women.
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