It is no surprise that smoking tobacco causes huge distress to the body. It causes lung cancer and deteriorates lung health. But did you also know that inhaling second-hand smoke can also damage your lung health? And if you happen to smoke near a pregnant woman, it could hurt her and her baby. Tobacco can seriously damage you in many ways, which includes affecting your fertility. To know more about how tobacco affects a woman’s health, click here. This World No Tobacco Day, let’s try to curb our urges with the use of tobacco.
To learn more about the impact of smoking on fertility, TC46 connected with Dr Sonal Kumta, Senior Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist, Fortis Hospital Mulund. Here she shares 7 vital facts to know about smoking when thinking about getting pregnant to when pregnant.
1. Smoking can impact the fertility of a woman
Smoking causes a reduction in the key female hormones. The toxic effects of chemicals by smoking affect both the quality and the number of oocytes/eggs, making it difficult to conceive as well as retrieve eggs in IVF too. It also increases the chances of Ectopic Pregnancy/Tubal Pregnancy. So smoking definitely affects fertility in women. Smoking can result in Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) post-delivery.
2. Smoking causes a reduction in sperm count
In males, smoking results in a reduction in sperm concentration, sperm motility, fewer normally shaped sperms, and increased sperm DNA damage. This will lead to problems in fertilisation, embryo development and implantation, and miscarriage. Toxins found in cigarettes like cadmium and lead, as well as low levels of zinc may be responsible for these effects. Smoking is also associated with an increased risk of Erectile Dysfunction, which will affect sexual performance.
3. Quit the use of tobacco months prior to trying to conceive
It takes 3 months for the sperm formation and maturation process till ejaculation, so it’s best to stop smoking at least 3 months prior when looking to conceive. That way the healthiest sperm will fertilise the egg. There should be a complete stop to the use of tobacco and cigarettes. Even being a social smoker or smoking even one cigarette is just as damaging to fertility.
4. Quitting tobacco results in better chances of a healthy pregnancy
If men quit smoking, in about three months they will have healthier sperms and a greater chance of fertilising an egg. Besides, his general health will improve too. For women, quitting smoking improves the chance of natural pregnancy, and the effects of smoking are reversed in a year.
All fertility markers like egg growth studies, semen parameters will see an improvement if you quit smoking as early as 3 months.
5. Smoking while being pregnant leads to serious consequences
Smoking and pregnancy don’t mix. Smoking in pregnancy can lead to serious consequences like unexpected foetal loss (miscarriage, stillbirth) foetal growth and development issues like low birth weight and IUGR, placental abruption (severe bleeding from the placenta), Placenta Praevia (low lying placenta), preterm birth, and birth defects like congenital heart defects, cleft lip, and cleft palate. It also increases the chances of hypertension and diabetes in pregnancy.
6. Secondhand smoke can also damage your and your baby’s health
Even if you do not smoke, remember second-hand smoke can be just as detrimental to your general health, reproductive health, and the health of your baby. Women exposed to second-hand smoke also had a significantly lower implantation rate as compared to unexposed women. In fact, these rates were similar to women who smoked themselves.
7. Nicotine patches must not be used when trying to quit tobacco
Nicotine patches cannot be used to quit smoking if you are trying to get pregnant. The nicotine used in e-cigarettes and patches is a health danger for pregnant women and developing foetus, and can cause damage to the foetus’ brain and lungs. Quitting tobacco should happen before you conceive.