It is a well-known fact that smoking has been linked to causing many health problems, but did you know it can also have detrimental health risk for your fertility? Smoking cigarettes while trying to conceive increases the risk of ectopic pregnancy, miscarriage, decreased follicle count, and potential damage to DNA in the follicle. In addition, smoking has been found to advance ovarian age by 4 years each year a woman smokes 10 or more cigarettes a day, increasing the risk for premature ovarian failure. The longer the woman smokes or the greater number of cigarettes she smokes a day, the higher is her risk for fertility problems.
Nicotine is the main ingredient in cigarettes that makes them addictive. Nicotine is a chemical constituent of the Tobacco plant’s leaves. While nicotine may have the greatest impact on our health, cigarette smoke contains 4000 additional chemicals. Nicotine is highly addictive and may cause a variety of side effects when stopped. Cigarette smoking is the leading cause of the most preventable diseases in our world.
Ways Cigarette Smoking Increases Fertility Problems
Research has shown that smoking also leads to a longer conception time than for non-smokers. An October 2000 study published in Fertility and Sterility concluded that both active and passive (meaning secondhand smoke intake) smoking by both men and women lead to delayed conception, compared to non-smoking couples. The greater the number of cigarettes a person smoked, the longer the delayed conception.
Smoking cigarettes has been linked to 5 times greater risk for ectopic pregnancy. Holy Smokes! Nicotine stimulates the fallopian tubes to contract. In some women it has been shown to cause the fallopian tubes to spasm so that the walls of the fallopian tubes temporarily stick together, preventing the embryo from passing through for implantation in the uterus.
Lowered Success Rate for IVF
A cross examination of multiple studies on women who smoked and their fertility showed that women who were going for IVF who also smoked had a decreased chance of a successful IVF procedure.
Difficulty for Embryo Implantation
Some studies suggest impairment of the ability of an embryo to implant successfully in women who smoke.
Impaired Hormone Release
Studies performed on both humans and animals exposed to cigarette smoke showed that exposure to smoking and nicotine can alter hypothalamic-pituitary interrelationships. The studies showed an increase in growth hormone, cortisol, and oxytocin release, which inhibited both luteinizing hormone and prolactin. The studies showed that smoking has a great impact on hormonal balance. Proper hormonal balance is necessary for a regular menstrual cycle. Proper luteinizing hormone release is essential for ovulation to occur.
Damage to Sperm and Follicle (Egg) DNA
Smoking has been found to damage both sperm and egg DNA. Our DNA is the genetic code in each of our cells. Intact DNA is necessary for a healthy, successful pregnancy and baby. Healthy DNA from both partners is necessary to prevent miscarriage, birth defects, and pregnancy problems.
Adrenal Fatigue and Nicotine Addiction
Nicotine intake immediately stimulates the adrenals to release adrenaline. The release of adrenaline signals release of dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is responsible for feelings of euphoria and pleasure. Repeated exposure to nicotine creates a tolerance. Over time, the body needs more nicotine to create the same high. This may create adrenal fatigue, as the adrenals are stimulated repeatedly to maintain the “high” from nicotine. Chronic stress on the adrenal glands may lead to hormonal imbalance, especially for the androgens DHEA and testosterone. This may directly impair egg health and libido.
How Can I Quit Smoking?
Quit smoking now to protect your fertility and increase your chances of successful conception and pregnancy!
- Speak to your doctor first! Quitting smoking can be very difficult and even make you sick at first. Most doctors can provide information and resources on how to quit successfully. Your doctor can help you make a personalized program to quit!
- Wean off of cigarettes over time. As a person who used to smoke (yes that’s right, I used to smoke years ago), I found this method to work best. Smoke one less cigarette each day. I found that when I got down to one cigarette a day, it was disgusting and found myself asking, “Why do I even need this one?” Weaning also helps to curb the severe withdrawal from quitting suddenly.
- Nicotine therapies. Your doctor may suggest these over-the-counter substances. These include nicotine patches you place on your skin or nicotine gum. They release smaller controlled amounts of nicotine into your system, so you do not go through withdrawal. Over time you would wean off of these cigarette replacements, until you no longer use them.
- Hypnotherapy. Hypnosis has been found to have a pretty good success rate for people who stick to an entire hypnosis program. There is about a 66% success rate for 4-5 sessions, compared to 25% success rate for people who only had hypnosis once.
- Avoid situations that increase your desire to smoke. When first quitting smoking it is easy to want to smoke again if you put yourself in a situation where you enjoyed smoking. This includes consuming alcoholic beverages, coffee, or parties where other smokers will be. After meal smoking is another one to avoid. Choose another activity with your hands instead of smoking. Doing the dishes right away is a good activity!
Ways to Heal and Prepare Your Body for Pregnancy Naturally After Stopping Smoking
Below are some helpful ways to boost your nutritional levels, increase natural detoxification of nicotine and other chemicals found in cigarettes, increase your lung capacity, and increase repair of damaged cells. All of these are going to increase the healing process from smoking damage, but will also increase your chances of conception.
- Whole Food Fertility Diet. By eating a nutrient dense Fertility Diet, you can restore depleted nutritional levels and increase your chances of healthy fertility. This is one good habit that should be a part of every person’s life!
- Daily Exercise. Exercise helps to detoxify our bodies, increasing lung capacity and cell renewal! We need our lungs work properly to bring us fresh oxygen. Proper circulation and oxygenation are essential to healthy fertility!
- Whole Food Multivitamin. Smoking cigarettes has been shown to decrease our nutritional levels. A multivitamin may help bridge the nutritional gap for those of us who do not have adequate nutritional intake. Sometimes we do not eat enough of the foods that provide adequate vitamins and minerals; a multivitamin ensures we get what we need nutritionally each day!
- Fertility Cleansing. Cigarette smoke contains over 4000 chemicals. Fertility Cleansing may help to cleanse the body of these chemicals prior to pregnancy. Most chemicals are stored in our fat cells. Your body will use fat stores during pregnancy and breastfeeding, which go directly to your baby. Fertility Cleansing is an essential way to cleanse the body of toxins in preparation for pregnancy!
- Antioxidants. Cigarette smoke’s chemicals are known free radicals. Free radicals are unstable molecules that can damage cell structures, including DNA. Antioxidants neutralize the free radicals, stopping further damage from happening and protecting the cells health.
As a person who knows firsthand about smoking, the hardships it brings and the impact it has on health, I can tell you that, without a doubt, life without cigarettes is so much better! I watched both my mother-in-law and my grandmother die from smoking cigarettes. In the past 2 years I have seen two of my friends’ parents die in their early 50s from secondhand smoke. Before you choose to try and conceive, consider not only the impact to your child’s health, but your own. You have the ability to change your life for the better! Give yourself, your future child, and your partner the best chance at a healthy life. Work to quit smoking today. The first step is to be honest with yourself, the second is to ask for help and support! You can quit, we believe in you! Believe in yourself!
- Gurevich, R. (n.d.). Does Smoking Affect Female Fertility? Retrieved from: https://www.verywell.com/female-fertility-and-smoking-1960254
- Hull, M. G., North, K., Taylor, H., Farrow, A., & Ford, W. L. (2000). Delayed conception and active and passive smoking. Fertility and Sterility, 74(4), 725-733. doi:10.1016/s0015-0282(00)01501-6 Retrieved from: https://www.fertstert.org/article/S0015-0282(00)01501-6/fulltext
- Mattison, D. R. (1982). The effects of smoking on fertility from gametogenesis to implantation. Environmental Research, 28(2), 410-433. doi:10.1016/0013-9351(82)90139-6 Retrieved from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0013935182901396?via%3Dihub
- Augood, C., Duckitt, K., & Templeton, A. A. (1998). Smoking and female infertility: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Human Reproduction, 13(6), 1532-1539. doi:10.1093/humrep/13.6.1532 Retrieved from: https://academic.oup.com/humrep/article/13/6/1532/815813
- Martin – Reviewed by a board-certified physician., T. (n.d.). An Overview of Nicotine Withdrawal. Retrieved from: https://www.verywell.com/nicotine-withdrawal-4013682
- Stop Smoking, Quit Your Smoking Habit with Hypnosis, Meditation, And Affirmations: The Sleep Learning System. (n.d.). Retrieved from: https://store.quitsmoking.com/products/stop-smoking-quit-your-smoking-habit-with-hypnosis-meditation-and-affirmations-the-sleep-learning-system