Fertility Answers - Helping Build Families

Smoking and Infertility

Research indicates a link between smoking and infertility, affecting both women and men’s reproductive systems

The health risks of smoking with regard to diseases of the heart, lungs and blood vessels have been well-studied and documented. What has been found over the past several years is that cigarette smoking also has a harmful effect on fertility for both women and men. The negative effects of smoking and infertility are increased if you smoke frequently and for a longer period of time. Also, if you live with a smoker, secondhand smoke and infertility are also connected.

Smoking harms a woman’s ovaries and appears to accelerate the loss of eggs and reproductive function

Additionally, smoking may advance the onset of menopause by several years. For pregnant women, smoking is strongly associated with an increased risk of spontaneous miscarriage and possibly ectopic pregnancy as well. Further, pregnant smokers are more likely to have low birth weight babies and premature babies. The incidence of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) also increases in households where someone smokes.

Cigarette smoking also has a marked impact on assisted reproductive therapy. Smokers require nearly twice as many in vitro fertilization (IVF) attempts than non-smokers and female smokers require higher doses of hormones to stimulate the ovaries. Smokers also realize more cancelled IVF cycles, lower implantation rates, undergo more cycles and, consequently, the costs of conceiving is dramatically more.

Men who smoke are likely harming their sperm

Although the research on the effects of smoking on fertility in men is not as conclusive as for women, studies suggest that men who smoke have lower sperm counts, lower sperm motility, and increased sperm abnormalities.

But there is silver lining for smokers willing to quit. Studies show that women who stop smoking for at least two months before trying to get pregnant will increase their chances of conceiving. While long-term smoking may have irreversible effects on ovarian function, women who discontinue smoking prior to fertility treatment have seen improvement in the success rates of these therapies.