Tobacco’s Influence on Fertility

Jun 18, 2022 | Fertility, IVF

Cigarette smoke contains hundreds of toxic substances, including nicotine, carbon monoxide, radioactive polonium, tar, cholesterol, phenol, formic acid, acetic acid, lead, cadmium, zinc, nickel, benzopyrene, and radioactive substances, which affect the reproductive function at various levels, such as sperm production, tubal motility (important for the capture of the egg leaving the ovary at the time of ovulation), embryo cell division, blastocyst formation, and implantation.


Women smokers may also have a higher incidence of menstrual irregularity and amenorrhea (lack of menstruation). Fertility is reduced by 25% in women who smoke up to 20 cigarettes a day, and 43% in those who smoke more than 20 cigarettes, that is, the decline in fertility is directly related to the nicotine dose.
During pregnancy, smoking can increase the incidence of placenta previa (placenta previa), premature detachment of the placenta and premature birth.


It is important for the couple to stop smoking, especially couples who are trying to get pregnant and especially men in this situation who have semen counts at the lower limit of normality.

Changes in women caused by smoking

 

The motility of the uterine tubes can also be altered, making it difficult to implant the embryo, in case of fertilization occurs, and increasing the risk of miscarriage (by up to 27%) and ectopic pregnancy. In case the pregnancy goes ahead, smokers have greater chances of having gestational problems, such as placenta previa and premature birth.


It is verified that in the case of IVF the probabilities of having a pregnancy are smaller for those who smoke, making these patients need twice as many attempts as the non-smokers, besides needing a larger amount of hormones to stimulate ovulation.


There is also a higher probability of conceiving a chromosomally unhealthy pregnancy (Down’s syndrome) than mothers who do not smoke.

Male Infertility and Smoking

Male Fertility and Smoking

Men can also have impotence caused by smoking. 

Studies point to the fact that smoking men have lower rates of P2 protein, essential for the development of chromosomes and for reproduction. Its deficiency can cause infertility. What’s more, the damage caused by smoking reduces sperm production and causes deficiencies, making fertilization more difficult.

Cigarette smoking also affects sperm motility. That is, although men produce spermatozoa, most of them do not move and, thus, cannot reach the egg to fertilize it. By affecting the quality of the sperm, the fertility problem is not reduced to a natural pregnancy. Cigarette smoking also hinders assisted fertilization treatments because it is necessary for the man to produce quality sperm for there to be a chance of fertilization.

Embryo development

Smoking can affect the development of the embryo. 

At an early stage, the oocyte is less likely to be fertilized. It is more difficult for the embryo to reach the blastocyst stage.

In In Vitro Fertilization, smokers run the risk of obtaining a reduced number of embryos.

During the embryo implantation stage, the negative effects of smoking can be felt in the endometrium, placenta, or uterine muscle, making fertility treatment more difficult.

Smoking 20 or more cigarettes a day puts smokers at four times greater risk of ectopic pregnancy than nonsmokers.

Effect of tobacco on the fetus

Ten cigarettes a day during pregnancy directly affect the health of the baby. In boys, the risk is a probable drop in sperm concentration of 20 to 48%. In girls, the most obvious consequence is a decrease in ovarian reserve. In fact, exposure to hormone modulators such as benzopyrene, present in cigarette smoke, is shown to be very damaging to the ovaries that are beginning to form during the first trimester of pregnancy.

The study also shows that prenatal exposure to tobacco is also linked to increased cases of birth defects, obesity, hyperactivity, and behavioral disorders.

Benefits of quitting smoking in pregnancy:

  • Increases the likelihood of a normal delivery
  • The baby receives more oxygen and is no longer exposed to the toxic substances in tobacco smoke
  • Decreases the risk of the baby being born early or with low birth weight
  • Reduces the risk of medical treatment and prolonged postpartum hospitalization
  • Increases the possibility of having a normal delivery and a healthy baby being born
  • Decreases the risk of fetal and perinatal mortality

How to Quit Smoking

Reducing the number of cigarettes may be the first step in quitting smoking. However, according to what is currently known, any minimal consumption can harm your baby. Ideally, you should stop smoking altogether.

The positive effects of quitting smoking happen as early as 20 minutes after your last cigarette. So the moment you quit smoking, you start to increase your chances for a healthier pregnancy and a healthier baby.

Live here and now: Just like any other addictive substance, nicotine takes you away from yourself and away from the present. This is often an escape route from a distressing situation. The personal challenge will be not to run away, but to observe. After the first attack of distress, calm will gradually come.

You will read everywhere that if you keep your mouth and hands busy, everything will be as before. In fact, the advice should be ‘enjoy the freedom of your mouth and hands. 

Tobacco does not allow certain natural foods to be enjoyed. Enjoy and eat your favorite fruits, as this will be good for you and for the baby.

Water will help your body release toxins faster.

This is a personal issue that only you can address. Perhaps this is the most wonderful part of it all: not depending on anyone but yourself.

Don’t think about the money you are saving.

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