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Fertility Facts: Smoking and Male Infertility

Fertility Fact: Smoking decreases sperm quality leading to male infertility.

Smoking and Male Infertility

Smoking can cause erectile dysfunction. Smoking and Male Infertility Smoking cigarettes has substantial harmful effects on fertility.  Couples undergoing IVF who smoke have approximately HALF the rate of success per cycle compared to non-smoking couples.  In addition, sperm gene damage can occur from direct binding of the toxins in cigarette smoke to DNA.

Smoking cigarettes can cause a decrease in the three main factors that determine sperm quality:

  1. Sperm Count – an average 22% decrease in men who smoke regularly
  2. Morphology – the shape of the sperm
  3. Motility – the ability of the sperm to swim forward and penetrate an egg

Smoking and Erectile Dysfunction

Smoking has also been linked to erectile dysfunction and impotence in men of all ages. Why? Blood flow.

  1. Carbon monoxide from cigarettes can increase your blood pressure and heart rate. The result is a strain on the heart that then makes the heart unable to pump enough blood to maintain an erection.
  2. Smoking may also result in fat deposits in blood vessels that restrict blood flow to all organs.
  3. Smoking may lead to hardening of the arteries – cardiovascular disease – which can also restrict blood flow.

The Good News

Studies have shown that damage is not necessarily permanent and may vary by amount and length of time you have been smoking.  Studies have shown a benefit from quitting smoking by at least 2-3 months, and according to Shady Grove Fertility physician, Dr. Joseph Doyle, “Much of the reduction in fertility rates can be completely reversed within a year of stopping.”

Check out our Fertility Facts on sperm regeneration to find out why it is important to stop smoking about 3 months prior to conception.

Visit smokefree.gov for tips to help you quit smoking.

If you having trouble conceiving, you may need to speak with a fertility specialist. Please call 1-877-971-7755 or click here to learn more.


  1. Beverly O'Malley

    November 4, 2012 - 5:07 pm

    Also many harmful effects of smoking cigarettes on female fertility. And for pregnant smokers there are more complications, more difficult deliveries and smaller birth weight for babies.

    • Shady Grove Fertility

      November 5, 2012 - 3:57 pm

      Absolutely Beverly! We are going to be featuring smoking & female infertility in next week’s Fertility Facts.

  2. Patty

    November 2, 2012 - 9:14 pm

    Great article. Love the graphic. 22% decrease is pretty significant.

    • Shady Grove Fertility

      November 5, 2012 - 3:58 pm

      Glad you enjoyed the posting! With so many parts of infertility that feel outside of a patient’s control, it is nice to recognize lifestyle changes that may help with fertility.

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