Smoking can reduce fertility in females. It can also negatively affect male fertility. Additionally, smoking may increase the risk of pregnancy complications and issues with fetal development.
Smoking may make it more difficult to conceive, as it can negatively effect the female reproductive system, including egg numbers and quality and the menstrual cycle.
Smoking during pregnancy can also cause maternal and fetal health problems and increase the risk of pregnancy complications.
This article looks at smoking and fertility challenges in females, how to quit smoking, and more.
Trigger warning: This feature mentions pregnancy loss, stillbirth, or both. Please read at your own discretion.
According to a 2018 article from the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), smoking may have a negative effect on the female reproductive system and fertility.
This is because:
- toxins from smoking may accumulate in follicular fluid and ovaries
- smoking may lead to a shorter menstrual cycle, which may reduce fertility
- smoking may lead to a depletion of follicles and earlier menopause
Research has found that smoking has a negative effect on ovarian reserve. Ovarian reserve refers to the number of healthy eggs in the ovaries.
A decrease in the number of healthy eggs results in reduced fertility. Menopause may occur 1–4 years earlier in females who smoke compared with nonsmokers.
Smoking can also cause damage to the DNA in eggs.
According to a 2018 article, smoking may increase the time it takes for people to conceive, compared with nonsmokers.
The number of cigarettes a person smokes per day may also contribute to the length of time it takes to conceive, with more cigarettes smoked correlating with increased delays to conception.
Female smokers may have a 54% higher rate of delayed conception over 12 months compared with nonsmokers.
Smoking can also negatively affect IVF. The research suggests that smokers may require almost twice as many cycles of IVF as nonsmokers to conceive. Additionally, smokers retrieve fewer eggs per IVF cycle and have lower fertilization rates.
Smoking during pregnancy can have negative health effects on a baby.
According to the
- ectopic pregnancy
- problems in fetal development, including tissue damage in the lungs and brain due to the carbon monoxide in tobacco smoke
- premature labor
- low birth weight
- congenital anomalies, such as cleft lip or palate
- sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
Other complications that may occur from smoking during pregnancy include:
- intrauterine growth restriction, which is when a fetus does not grow as expected
- placental abruption, in which the placenta separates from the womb
- placenta previa, in which the placenta covers the opening of the cervix
- premature rupture of membranes, in which the amniotic sac breaks open before labor starts
- fetal or infant death
Secondhand smoke may also negatively affect fertility and the chances of conceiving. Secondhand smoke exposure may have similar effects on time to conception as active smoking.
Secondhand smoke can expose people to the harmful substances in tobacco smoke, which
Regularly breathing in secondhand smoke during pregnancy may
Any damage that occurs to the eggs or ovarian reserve as a result of smoking is
If people stop smoking in order to conceive and before becoming pregnant, the risks become as low as those in nonsmokers.
If people are smoking while pregnant, the sooner they quit, the better the maternal and fetal health outcomes will be.
People can discuss a quitting plan with a healthcare professional, who can also help support them throughout the process.
Resources such as smokefree.gov provide tools and support for creating and sticking to a plan and offer tips specifically for females before or during pregnancy.
People can talk with a doctor about the use of e-cigarettes and quitting medications when trying to conceive.
Some over-the-counter and prescription medications for quitting smoking may not be suitable during pregnancy, so people will need to check with a healthcare professional.
People should consider avoiding e-cigarettes during pregnancy, as nicotine can cause harm to a baby.
This section answers some frequently asked questions about smoking and fertility in females.
How long after quitting smoking does female fertility improve?
As soon as people quit smoking, their chances of getting pregnant improve.
Ideally, people would quit smoking as soon as possible before becoming pregnant.
How much do you need to smoke to affect fertility?
According to a 2018 article from the ASRM, research consistently shows that smoking half of a pack of cigarettes a day reduces fertility in females.
The negative effects of smoking on fertility may increase in relation to the amount people smoke.
In some cases, research found that certain negative effects on fertility only occurred in females who smoked more than 20 cigarettes each day. However, overall, there was a link between smoking and infertility for all levels of smoking.
Can I get pregnant if my husband smokes cigarettes?
Smoking can negatively affect male fertility and
Toxins in tobacco smoke, such as cotinine and cadmium, can harm sperm and can cause DNA damage to sperm.
Secondhand smoke exposure can also have a negative effect on fertility.
Smoking can make it more difficult to conceive. Smoking can negatively affect the female reproductive system and cause fertility issues. Smoking can also negatively affect male fertility.
Smoking during pregnancy can cause harm to the baby and may lead to pregnancy complications.
Quitting smoking will improve the chances of getting pregnant and stop any further damage to fertility. Talking with a healthcare professional or using online resources may help people quit.