Fertility and Smoking – is it really a problem?
Is smoking really affecting your fertility? The answer is a resounding YES! We all know that smoking increases you chances of heart and lung disease and cancer but many do not realise that smoking can lead to problems with fertility in both men and women.
Fertility and Smoking – the Facts
Let’s have a look at some facts:
- The infertility rate is twice as high in smoking couples than in non-smokers.
- Even fertility treatments such as IVF may not be able to fully overcome smoking’s effects on fertility. Smoking couples have 30% lower pregnancy rates compared to IVF patients who do not smoke.
Smoking affects every stage of the reproduction process – in both men and women. It affects:
- the DNA (genetic material) in eggs and sperm
- men’s and women’s hormone production
- the fertilised egg’s ability to reach the uterus
- the environment inside the uterus, where the baby grows.
How does smoking affect Male Fertility?
- Men that smoke can have problems getting and keeping erections.
- Smoking damages the DNA (genetic material) in their sperm, which is transferred to the baby.
- It decreases sperm quality with lower sperm counts (number of sperm) and motility (the ability of sperm to move) and there will be increased numbers of abnormally shaped sperm (morphology). Smoking might also decrease the sperm’s ability to fertilise eggs.
How does smoking affect Female Fertility?
- The chemicals in cigarette smoke speed up the loss rate of eggs. Once eggs die off, they cannot regenerate or be replaced. This means that menopause occurs 1 to 4 years earlier in women who smoke (compared with non-smokers).
- Smoking increases the change of miscarriage and the risk of having an ectopic pregnancy.
What about vaping?
Vaping certainly also has negative effects on fertility. The chemicals found in it can disrupt hormonal balance and reduce fertility rates in both men and women. The toxic compounds reduce the chances of fertilisation and might harm the development of an embryo. To support your fertility it is advised to avoid vaping.
Myth-busting: Is passive smoking (inhaling someone else’s smoke) safe?
The fact is that women who are exposed to other people’s smoke take longer to get pregnant. It affects your conception ability as well as the baby’s health. Passive smoking is almost as damaging to your unborn baby’s health as smoking.
The good news!
Having a healthy baby begins with healthy sperm and healthy eggs. The good news is that the effects of smoking on eggs, sperm and fertility are reversible. It doesn’t matter whether it’s the male or the female who smokes, quitting will increase the chance of conceiving and having a healthy baby.
When men quit:
- It doesn’t matter how long a man has smoked for. As soon as he stops smoking, his sperm will become healthier.
- It takes about three months for sperm to mature. Men who quit at least three months before conception will have much healthier sperm with a greater chance of fertilising an egg, and creating a healthy baby.
When women quit:
- Quitting improves the chance of falling pregnant.
- Stopping smoking can improve natural fertility and some of the effects of smoking can be reversed within a year of quitting.
Can’t I just stop smoking once we fall pregnant?
No, first of all, smoking makes it much less likely that you fall pregnant. Smoking also damages the DNA in both egg and sperm. When the baby’s DNA is damaged, he/she is at a higher risk of having health problems.
It is important to quit smoking at least 3 months before trying to conceive. It takes roughly around 3 months for egg and sperm develop, so by quitting early, the egg and sperm quality will be optimal at the time of conception.
What can I do to quit smoking?
- Make a detailed plan on how you want to quit smoking and stick to the plan – going cold turkey has been very successful for many people. However, for others reducing it bit by bit works better. It’s important to think through which way would be easiest for you.
- Distract your mind – smoking is a habit and when you quit it is important to replace it with a healthier habit. Go for a walk or run, try bush walking, talk to a friend, get creative and spend time on hobbies. Keep reminding yourself of the benefits and the goal: to conceive a healthy baby!
- Drink water – In Chinese Medicine, smoking creates toxic heat and dries up the fluid in the body. Therefore, it is more important for smokers to increase their fluid intake to help flushing out the toxins.
- Eat a balanced diet – The chemicals in cigarettes disrupt the normal function of our body systems and it affects the body’s ability to absorb nutrients properly. Make sure you stay away from processed or fast food and eat a healthy balanced diet with lots of vegetables and fruits. Read more about how to improve sperm with food and how digestion affects your fertility.
- Different things help for different people. Things you could try are: nicotine replacement (ask your GP), hypnosis, relaxation techniques, join an online quit smoking program, counselling and of course Acupuncture.
How can we support you at Natural Solutions Acupuncture?
Smoking cessation is not an easy journey. It is important to surround yourself with trusted and supportive health professionals to help you to combat the battle. At Natural Solutions Acupuncture, we help to facilitate the body’s own healing process and support your motivation to quit smoking.
Acupuncture can help you in a variety of ways:
- by supporting the detox of your body
- it can combat the cravings
- it may help you relax
- it may boost your willpower
At the same time we can also start to actively support your fertility.
I want help to quit smoking, how can I make an appointment?