By now, we all know the harmful health impacts of smoking – particularly on the lungs, mouth and throat.
But what you might not know is that smoking can also impact your fertility – reducing your chance of conceiving, and delivering, a healthy baby.
The good news is that the effects of smoking on eggs and sperm and fertility are reversible.
In fact, whether it’s the male or the female (or both) who smokes, quitting smoking will increase your chance of conceiving and having a healthy baby.
So, if you’re a smoker and trying to get pregnant, there’s never been a better incentive to quit. Here’s why.
The impact of smoking on fertility
Smoking impacts every stage of the reproduction process in both men and women, and studies have shown that smokers of both genders are more likely to have fertility problems and take longer to get pregnant than non-smokers.
Not only do the chemicals in cigarettes damage eggs and sperm, smoking also effects:
● the DNA in eggs and sperm
● men’s and women’s hormone production
● the fertilised egg’s ability to reach the uterus; and
● the environment inside the uterus, where the baby grows.
The impact of second-hand smoke shouldn’t be dismissed either.
Second-hand smoke is almost as damaging as smoking itself, and women who are exposed to second-hand smoke may take longer to conceive than women who are not.
By quitting smoking, not only will you increase your chance of conceiving and having a healthy baby, but you will also feel more energetic and healthy – ready for the demands of being pregnant and being a parent!
What happens to fertility when men quit smoking
Smoking impacts the quality of a man’s sperm – but as soon as he stops smoking, his sperm will become healthier, explains Professor Rob McLachlan, Director of Healthy Male, in this video.
“Smoking damages sperm from the very beginning of their development,” he said.
“If a man wants to protect the quality of his sperm, he has to start months before he actually causes the conception.
“The good thing about smoking and sperm damage is it’s reversible.
“If you stop smoking, those chemicals that damage the sperm’s DNA during production will disappear, and the next batch of sperm will be fine.”
What happens to fertility when women quit smoking
For a woman, quitting smoking will increase her chance of getting pregnant by improving natural fertility.
In fact, some of the effects of smoking can be reversed within a year of quitting – and women who have stopped smoking take no longer to become pregnant than women who have never smoked in the first place.
Women who quit smoking before conception or within the first three months of pregnancy reduce the risk of their baby being born prematurely to the same level of risk for non-smokers, and, women who stop smoking early in their pregnancy have babies with similar birth weights as babies born to non-smokers.
Finally, women who quit before their third trimester can avoid much of the effects smoking has on birth weight.
More information and helpful resources to help you quit
We know that quitting smoking is difficult, but there is plenty of support available to help you on your journey – and we promise the benefit to both you, your partner, and future baby is worth it!
To get started, talk to your doctor.
You might also like to check out the besmokefree.com.au website, phone Quitline on 13 78 48 (or visit quitlinesa.org.au), and download the My QuitBuddy app, which provides helpful tips and distractions to overcome cravings, tracking systems to chart your progress and the facts to help you understand the impact smoking has on your health.
Quit Victoria, in conjunction with Your Fertility has developed a Quit & Your Fertility interactive tool, where you can find out how smoking affects men’s and women’s fertility, pregnancy and the baby’s health, and how you can improve your natural fertility and reverse some of the effects of smoking within a year of stopping.
Creating South Australian families
If you haven’t been successful in conceiving naturally, or you would simply like to find out about your fertility health before you start trying to conceive, we’re here to help.
Call Fertility SA on (08) 8100 2900 for your free nurse consultation, or to make an appointment with one of our specialist doctors.