Smoking and Infertility - Understanding the Connection

Any woman who wants to become pregnant knows that it's very difficult to wait.  There are many reasons that women might have trouble becoming pregnant - and it's certainly important to understand which factors can be avoided and which can't be helped.  One of the factors that can certainly be avoided is smoking.  Smoking causes infertility in a myriad of ways and can cause a great deal of waiting for that magical pregnancy.  Here's why.

Smoking's Negative Influence

The Advanced Fertility Center of Chicago has done extensive research on the negative effect that smoking can have on fertility.  One study done with mice showed that nicotine has a negative effect on the maturation of eggs, on ovulation rates and on fertility rates.  The study also noticed more chromosomal abnormalities in eggs that had been exposed to nicotine.

One large British study showed that smokers had twice the risk of still being childless five years after ending the use of contraceptives than did non smoking couples.  Many researchers estimate that women who smoke and want to conceive take, on average, up to two months longer than non smokers to conceive.  Another study by the British Medical Association showed that smokers have a 40% lower chance of pregnancy than non smokers.   They also found, significantly enough, that both smoking and passive smoke were to blame for as many as 5,000 miscarriages every year and could also take the blame for 120,000 cases of male impotence in men ages 30-50. 

Smoking and IVF

Women who have tried to get pregnant and have resorted to in vitro fertilization will, similarly, find that nicotine has a negative effect on their pregnancy rates.  Smokers have been shown to have less egg retrieval with IVF, less rates of fertilization of the eggs, and more miscarriages with their in vitro fertilization pregnancies.  For those spending a great deal of time and money on IVF, it's very important to understand the risks involved when trying IVF while smoking.  A study of women trying to get pregnant with IVF found that women who have never smoked were 2.7 times more likely to get pregnant with IVF than were women who used to smoke or who now smoke.  This risk was increased to 4.8 if the woman smoked for more than five years. 

 
Interestingly enough, studies have also indicated that if the male partner smokes, it can also have a negative effect on IVF.  The research doesn't know if this is due to damage to the sperm, or to a negative reaction that the smoking might pose to the egg and embryo; nevertheless, it does show that smoking negatively influences the efficacy of IVF for the man and woman.

Give Up the Cigarettes for Fast Results

One of the most significant findings in all of this research is the clear and easy effect that giving up smoking can have on fertility.  One study indicated that, a year after giving up smoking, the ex-smokers did not take a longer time to become pregnant than did the women who had never smoked.  This is very significant.  If you're hoping to become pregnant, there are many lifestyle changes that you can implement to increase your chances.  Saying goodbye to cigarettes is one of these lifestyle changes that can dramatically and quickly influence your chances of holding a beautiful baby. 

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