Smoking and fertility

Women who smoke, or are exposed to other people’s smoke, have an increased risk of infertility and are more likely to take longer to get pregnant. In fact, passive smoking (inhaling someone else’s smoke) is only slightly less harmful to fertility than active smoking.

Pregnant women who smoke can find it more difficult to quit if they have a partner who smokes. Research shows it is much easier for people to stop smoking if they do it with their partner. Deciding to quit together is a great way to increase your fertility and chances of having a healthy baby.

The facts about smoking and having a baby

Smoking affects each stage of the reproductive process, including egg and sperm maturation, hormone production, embryo transport, and the environment in the uterus. It can also damage the DNA in both eggs and sperm.

Smoking during pregnancy increases the risk of pregnancy complications, low birth weight, and birth defects.

Exposure to cigarette smoking during pregnancy can impact on the development of a female foetus’ ovaries.

Smoking increases a woman’s chance of experiencing a miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy. The risk of miscarriage increases with the amount smoked (1% increase in risk per cigarette smoked per day).

Women who smoke reach menopause almost two years earlier than non-smokers and women who are exposed to second-hand smoke reach menopause more than a year earlier.

The good news?

Stopping smoking can improve natural fertility and some of the effects of smoking can be reversed within a year of quitting.

Women who quit smoking before conception or within the first three months of pregnancy reduce their risks of their baby being born prematurely to be on par with non-smokers.

Women who stop smoking early in their pregnancy have babies with similar birth-weights to those of non-smokers. Women who stop before their third trimester can avoid much of the effect smoking has on birth-weight.


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