Use of tobacco: one of the bad habits that affect in a negative way to female fertility

To preserve fertility and avoid possible problems in pregnancy, we must say goodbye to tobacco. This habit is one of the external factors that negatively affect the ability to get pregnant and to reach full term.

Regardless of the causes that can interfere with fertility, CERH Valencia explains how smoking can become the impediment to having children.

The cigarette contains substances such as nicotine, carbon monoxide and other toxins that decrease the ability to create estrogen (hormone produced mainly in the ovaries, whose role is essential for female sexual development and the functioning of the reproductive system). That is why tobacco produces various alterations in women, increasing the probability of infertility and the successful conception of a baby. In addition, tobacco makes oocytes more prone to genetic abnormalities.

 The degree of damage depends on the amount and time period during which the woman smokes. However, there is no level of consumption that is safe for health. A study conducted by the American Society of Cancer indicates that women who smoke more than 10 cigarettes a day have a greater difficulty in achieving a pregnancy and they usually suffer an advance of menopause with respect to non-smokers, since smoking accelerates the loss of ovules and the reproductive function of women. Both active and passive smokers have detected low levels of the AMH hormone. This hormone is responsible for determining the quality of a woman’s eggs. Women who quit smoking during pregnancy are less likely to have their babies born with low birth weight compared to those who continue smoking. They are also less likely to have babies born too early. The impact of cigarette smoke on passive smokers is slightly lower than that of active smokers.

Almost every organ of the baby can be affected by tobacco during pregnancy, and this increases the risk of:

  • Spontaneous abortion
  • Premature delivery
  • Ectopic pregnancy
  • Births of deceased babies
  • Child death
  • Low birth weight
  • Lower circumference of the head
  • Slightly increased risk of heart defects, cleft lip or palate
  • Hearing problems
  • Sudden death syndrome (SIDS)
  • Possibly other birth defects

Women who stop smoking before becoming pregnant reduce such risks to the same level as women who have never smoked.

Likewise, smoking is harmful for those couples who have to resort to assisted reproduction to try to have a baby; since it complicates the process.

  • In case of having to resort to an assisted reproduction treatment, women smokers present more complex problems when it comes to getting pregnant.
  • The effect of smoking on smoking patients is comparable to having ten more years, which implies that during the treatment more medication is required for ovarian stimulation, greater cancellation of assisted reproduction cycles and lower implantation rates.
  • Women smokers require a greater number of assisted fertilization (IVF) attempts to conceive.