The Impact of Smoking on Female Fertility

Female fertility is a complex biological process. It is affected by a variety of factors and given the adverse health implications that smoking entails, it comes as no surprise that this bad habit can also impact fertility in both men and women.

According to the WHO, female infertility implies:

  • The inability to become pregnant
  • The inability to maintain pregnancy, or
  • The inability to carry pregnancy to a live birth.

Based on this definition of infertility, a 2010 by the WHO found that about 48.5 million couples from across the world suffered from impaired fertility. These statistics are certainly worrisome and you’re probably wondering if there’s something you can do to avoid becoming a part of this growing figure.

In terms of lifestyle, the following activities can affect your fertility:

  • Your eating habits and diet.
  • How much you exercise.
  • Your body weight; protracted weight gain or sudden weight loss.
  • Regular intake of alcohol and/or drugs.
  • Smoking.

If you smoke or are trying to quit, knowing how it can potentially impair your ability to conceive and/or deliver a child, can indeed be an eye-opener.

How Smoking Impacts Female Fertility

Numerous studies have established an undeniable link between the habit of smoking and impaired fecundity in women. There is broad consensus over the fact that women who smoke more than 10 cigarettes a day are likely to experience infertility that is linked to their smoking habit.

Image source:

In fact, a 2009 study published in the Health Science Journal, which attempted a comprehensive analysis of the causes of infertility in 110 infertile women, came up with interesting insights:

  • A combination of medical and physiological factors as well as lifestyle habits was found to contribute towards female infertility.
  • Even so, 45.5% of the infertile women had a history of smoking, which shows just how potent a factor it is in causing infertility.

So, the question that arises is, how does smoking affect female fertility?

A study published in Nature Genetics, led by Dr. J Tilly of Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, found that a chemical in cigarette smoke – Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons, known as PAH – can accelerate the destruction of egg cells in the ovaries, thus impairing fertility as well as triggering early menopause.

This is just one of the known effects of smoking on female infertility. With 4,800 chemicals in cigarette smoke, there are sure to be many other harmful substances therein that hamper one’s fertility.

Quitting is the Only Way!

If you find yourself anxious about your ability to conceive and successfully carry a pregnancy to live birth, quitting smoking should be your top priority. E-cigarettes, hypnosis, NLP, and NRT are some smoking cessation techniques that you may find useful.

The good news is that even if you quit after years of smoking, chances are that your fertility rate can improve. Having said that, the sooner you quit the better it’s likely to be for you as well as your baby.

Links to Studies Used: