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Smoking & Fertility: What Men & Women Need to Know

Around the globe, 1.1 billion people have a smoking addiction, adding up to a whopping 5.8 trillion cigarettes smoked in 2014. Each cigarette distributes 7,000 chemicals throughout the body. Heart disease and lung cancer are well-known and devastating health consequences of smoking, but many don’t realize is that smoking is one of the biggest threats to fertility potential in men and women.

Infertility is very common - one in eight U.S. couples experience difficulty achieving or sustaining a pregnancy and approximately 48.5 million couples globally have infertility. According to the American Society of Reproductive Medicine, estimates show that 13 percent of infertility is a result of smoking. Here is a rundown of how smoking hurts both genders:

Smoking and Female Fertility

  • Increased PCOS Symptoms - Smoking increases androgen levels in women, which causes PCOS symptoms to increase and hurts fertility potential.
  • Irregular Ovulation - Smoking causes estrogen to lower in the body. Low estrogen production results in poor egg development and stops the brain signal to release Luteinizing Hormone, which causes ovulation.
  • Erosion of Egg Quality - Cigarette chemicals damage the genetic information in eggs and accelerate egg loss; once ovarian supply is diminished, it cannot be replaced.
  • Higher Miscarriage Rates - Women who smoke are 16 percent more likely to experience a miscarriage.
  • Higher Risk of Ectopic Pregnancy - The risk of an ectopic pregnancy increases by 43 percent in female smokers.
  • Premature Menopause - Studies show that menopause occurs one to four years earlier in female smokers.

Smoking and Male Fertility

  • Hormonal Issues - Cigarettes decrease testosterone levels in men, hurting fertility.
  • Lowered Sperm Concentration - A 19 percent reduction in sperm concentration occurs in men who smoke over 20 cigarettes per day when compared to nonsmokers.
  • Damaged Sperm - Smoking damages sperm DNA and makes them less likely to function correctly, causing count and motility to decline by 16-17 percent.
  • Erectile Dysfunction - Smoking can cause difficulty achieving or maintaining an erection.
  • Lowered Semen Ejaculate - The volume of ejaculate lowers in smokers, particularly those who smoke over 16 cigarettes each day.

According to a study, smoking causes hundreds of permanent genetic DNA changes within the body, which includes the DNA of egg and sperm.

Studies have also shown that couples who smoke require nearly twice as many attempts at IVF when compared to non-smokers.

Quitting the habit will have a very positive and fast impact on fertility. Women can increase chances of conception within two months while men can see negative semen effects cleared within three months.

Approximately 1.3 million smokers successfully stop each year, and we hope you will join them. There are many different smoking cessation programs as well as countless free resources promoted by the CDC - there is sure to be a quitting method that is right for you.