Can smoking affect my ability to have a child?

Most people understand that smoking increases the risk of heart, vascular and lung diseases. However, many people do not realize that smoking can also bring infertility problems, both in men and women. The rates of complications in pregnancy and erectile dysfunction also increase among smokers.

Does smoking affect my eggs or my sperm?

The chemicals present in cigarette smoke (such as nicotine, cyanide, and carbon monoxide) accelerate the loss of eggs. Unfortunately, the ovules can not be regenerated or replaced once they are finished. This means that menopause occurs between 1 and 4 years earlier in women who smoke (compared to those who do not smoke). Smoking men may suffer a decrease in the quality, the count (the amount) and the motility (ability to move) of sperm, in addition to an increase in sperm with morphological abnormalities. Smoking can also decrease the ability of sperm to fertilize eggs.

How can tobacco use affect my ability to conceive?

Women smokers do not conceive as efficiently as nonsmokers. Rates of infertility among women and men who smoke are approximately twice those of non-smokers. The risk of suffering from infertility increases with the amount of cigarettes the person smokes per day.

Even fertility treatments such as IVF do not always fully overcome the effects of tobacco use on fertility. Women who smoke need more ovarian stimulation medications during IVF and still develop fewer eggs at the time of collection and pregnancy rates 30% lower than patients who do not smoke.

As smoking damages the genetic material of the ovules and sperm, the rates of spontaneous abortions and children with birth defects are higher among smoking patients. Tobacco that is consumed without smoking also increases spontaneous abortion rates. Women who smoke are more likely to have a pregnancy with chromosomal problems (such as a pregnancy affected by Down syndrome) than non-smokers. Ectopic pregnancies and premature births are also more frequent among women smokers.

Can smoking affect my children?

Men whose mothers smoked half a pack of cigarettes (or more) a day have lower sperm count. Smoking during pregnancy can also restrict the baby’s growth before birth. Children born with lower than expected weights are at greater risk of suffering medical problems throughout their lives (such as diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular diseases). Children whose parents smoke are at increased risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) or asthma. I do not smoke but my partner does.

Could this indirect smoke affect my fertility?

Women exposed to secondhand smoke can suffer all the mentioned health risks. If I stop smoking, will my chances of conceiving and having a healthy pregnancy improve? Yes. Quitting smoking can improve fertility, although the decrease in ovarian reserve is not reversible. The rate of pregnancy complications due to tobacco use decreases the longer a person spends without smoking.

Quitting smoking can be very, very difficult, but certain studies show that the likelihood of success is much greater if you work with your healthcare provider or with a support group.

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