It’s no secret that smoking is extremely detrimental to your health, so it’s probably not a surprise to know that smoking can also affect your fertility. Cigarettes contain thousands of toxins that not only take a toll on your lungs and your overall physical health, but also have a major impact on your reproductive system.

Studies have revealed that couples who smoke are almost 30% less fertile than non-smokers and are three times more likely to take more than a year to conceive. Women who smoke are also more likely to go through menopause two to three years earlier than non-smoking women. And if that is not enough to turn you off smoking, remember that in addition to infertility, smoking is known to cause lung cancer, heart disease, circulatory problems and emphysema.


The direct impact of smoking on fertility includes:


  • Smoking damages sperm making them less likely to fertilise eggs
  • The embryos created by a smokers sperm are less likely to survive due to DNA damage
  • Lower sperm count and sperm motility problems (motility is the ability of sperm to swim towards and penetrate the egg)
  • A lower sperm count and erectile dysfunction
  • Hormonal issues
  • Erectile dysfunction – trouble getting or maintaining an erection


  • Tubal changes including blockages that can prevent the egg and sperm from meeting and can increase the risk of ectopic pregnancy
  • Cervical changes including an increased risk of developing cervical cancer
  • Premature depletion of the ovarian pool of eggs
  • DNA damage in the ovarian follicles
  • Damage to the uterine lining that may make healthy implantation of an embryo less likely
  • An increase in spontaneous abortion (possibly due to damaged eggs) and ectopic pregnancy
  • Early menopause – as much as four years earlier than normal

Even fertility treatments such as IVF may not be able to fully overcome smoking’s effects on fertility. Female smokers need more ovary-stimulating medications during IVF and still have fewer eggs at retrieval time and have 30% lower pregnancy rates compared with IVF patients who do not smoke.
Smoking during pregnancy can also harm a child prenatally. Smokers are also more likely to suffer from pre-term labour and give birth to babies with health problems.
While smoking can lead to long-term fertility damage, fertility rates can improve significantly after even less than a year of quitting. Quitting may be one of the best things you can do for your health and your fertility. If your partner also smokes, dropping the habit together will increase your chances of successfully quitting. And if quitting smoking is not in the cards for you, then cutting back considerably is still worth trying for. Finally, remember that second hand smoke can affect the fertility of your partner also.
Smokers take longer to conceive than non-smokers and are more likely to have fertility problems.

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