Does smoking affect conception? It appears that the habit can interfere with a couple's ability to conceive with the problem being significant in both males and females.
Does Smoking Affect Conception?
Smoking is known to cause problems with fertility. Infertility rates are higher among smokers than nonsmokers and it may take longer for smokers to become pregnant. The connection between cigarettes and infertility is compelling.
While cigarettes do not necessarily cause infertility, they can have an adverse effect on the couple's ability to conceive. Some may be surprised that the problem exists in men as much as in females.
Male Fertility and Smoking
Smoking may have an impact on sperm and DNA in males, according to the WebMD article, Smoking May Harm Sperm, Male Fertility. The article explores a small study conducted by the Phillip Morris Company. While the participants did not experience infertility due to smoking in the study, their sperm was less likely to function properly.
The study found that heavy smokers experienced a drop in fertility and that smokers' sperm did not adhere tightly to the egg
Other studies have linked smoking to DNA abnormalities that can be carried by the sperm to the egg. The sperm may become misshapen and may not function properly. However, at this time, no conclusive evidence exists that suggests that smoking can cause infertility in males.
Female Fertility and Smoking
Does smoking affect conception in females? It seems as if cigarettes can interfere with a woman's ability to conceive a baby. The problems that stem from the habit can have an adverse effect on the reproductive system and the troubles occur in a number of different levels.
Effects on the Ovaries
The ovaries, which are responsible for releasing the egg each month, can be affected by smoking. The organs are also responsible for hormone regulation leading to monthly menstrual cycles.
Smoking can interfere with the proper functioning of the ovaries, which may cause significant problems with the reproductive process, including:
- Hormone changes
- Irregular menstrual cycles
- Anovulation (menstrual cycle without ovulation)
Effects on the Uterus
Some studies suggest that cigarettes can have an impact on the uterus, making conception for heavy smokers less likely. The BBC News article Smoking May Block Embryo's Path offers insight into the problems that occur in the uterus in women trying to become pregnant using in vitro fertilization. Smoking affects the ovaries and eggs, but the study outlined in the article notes that the uterus is affected independently from the ovaries.
Women who smoke face multiple challenges when it comes to conception because smoking appears to affect various areas of reproduction. If one system, like the ovaries, is functioning properly, other systems, like the uterus, may not be.
Effects on the Cervix
Cervical cancer is another problem associated with smoking since smokers are more likely to develop this disease according to the American Cancer Society, making the chances of conception bleak. It is important to note some researchers do not believe smoking causes cervical cancer, as seen in the article Human Papillomaviruses Cause Cervical Cancer.
Smoking and Miscarriage
Like smoking and cervical cancer, some debate exists as to whether cigarettes can increase the possibility of miscarriage. While the debate about the connection between cigarettes and miscarriage continues, it may be best to err on the side of caution. Smokers who have difficulty becoming pregnant may want to try smoking cessation not only to increase their potential to conceive, but also to lessen the possibility of miscarriage.
The American Society for Reproductive Medicine offers information about smoking and conception. The Patient Fact Sheet Smoking and Infertility offers helpful information about cigarettes and infertility in both males and females.
The primary source of information for couples who want to conceive should be their physicians. Discussing any concerns about smoking and conception with a doctor is a critical step in receiving the right advice and guidance.