SMOKING AND INFERTILITY

    Author: Dr Tasos Christodoulou

SMOKING AND INFERTILITY

In medicine, the health risks of tobacco smoking are well known for many years now especially with regard to diseases of the heart, lungs, and blood vessels.

 

So sub fertile couples, who are interested in getting involved with modern assisted reproduction therapies, should also understand that tobacco smoking, as well as any tobacco usage (in any form), has a negative impact not only on their ability to become pregnant but also on their ability to carry a pregnancy to term.

 

Long -term medical research indicates that cigarette smoking is harmful to a woman’s ovaries, and the degree of harm is dependent upon the amount and the period of time a woman smokes.

 

Components in cigarette smoke such as nicotine and the heavy metal cadmium have been shown to interfere with the ability of cells in the ovary to make estrogen (a very important female hormone), and to cause a woman’s eggs (oocytes) to be more prone to genetic deletions and abnormalities.

 

As a result of smoking, fertility is reduced due to an accelerated loss of eggs (oocytes) and an earlier onset of menopause (loss of ovarian function) due to probably small infarcts caused on the vessels providing blood to the oocytes.

 

In addition, prior to menopause, the ovaries become more resistant to releasing healthy eggs. International multicentric scientific studies have documented that these effects of cigarette smoking cause a delay in the natural conception rate for couples and increase the risk of miscarriage.

 

The relationship between smoking and male factor infertility is less clear. Men who smoke cigarettes heavily (one to two packs per day) appear to have increased abnormalities in sperm motility and shape.

 

Moreover, cigarette smoking may act in conjunction with other factors to reduce male fertility. Although the harmful effects of cigarette smoking on male fertility are still controversial, passive smoke inhalation by women who do not smoke may contribute to abnormalities of reproductive function.

 

In couples undergoing IVF (in vitro fertilization), female smoking has been associated with a decreased number of eggs available for fertilization, decreased pregnancy and delivery rates, and markedly increased miscarriage rates in most studies.

 

One important investigation in the united states showed that cessation of smoking for at least two months before attempting IVF significantly improved chances for conception.

 

Although long-term cigarette smoking can have an irreversible effect on ovarian function, the harmful effect on the ovaries may, in part, be reversed if smoking is discontinued prior to entering into fertility therapy.

 

Pregnant smokers are more likely to have low birth weight babies, the

so-called small for gestational age (SGA) babies, and premature birth. The incidence of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) increases in households where someone smokes.

 

So it is widely acceptable in modern reproductive medicine that smoking cessation may improve fertility and success rates with infertility treatment. It is healthy for the growing fetus, and will create a smoke-free environment for an infant.

 

 

Dr.Tasos L. Christodoulou

Obstetrician-Gynecologist

Fertility Specialist

University of Bonn, Germany

Apollonio Private Hospital Nicosia

Tel.+357 22469000 Mob. +357 99643922

Email: tasos.christodoulou@apollonion.com.cy

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