It has been estimated that approximately 30 to 35% of all men and women smoke in the United States. A paper recently published in Fertility and Sterility studied the effects of smoking on fertility in both men and women. There were many reproductive effects on both sexes.
In women, it was found that conception was delayed by more than a year in those who smoked compared to those who did not. This indicates that a smoker’s monthly chances of getting pregnant are decreased significantly. Also, smokers reached menopause one to four years earlier than non-smokers suggesting that smokers may have a reduced number of eggs in their ovaries. Once the ovaries have run out of their egg supply, there is no way to replenish that supply. This may also explain the fact that smokers who are being treated for infertility require a higher dose of fertility medications than non-smokers.
Other effects of smoking on women include a higher risk of having a baby with Downs syndrome and an increased risk of miscarriage.
The reproductive effect of smoking on men remains controversial. It has been found that smoking may reduce sperm count in semen by up to 22%. The use of smokeless tobacco also had similar negative effect of semen parameters.
Smokers have been advised for many years to stop smoking due to bad effects on their health (cancers, heart disease, etc). The mounting data in the reproductive area should be additional reasons for smokers to stop smoking.
This post was written by Dr. Rahul Sachdev