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Is There a Correlation between Secondhand Smoking and Infertility?

Women Exposed to High Levels of Secondhand Smoke are at Greater Risk for Infertility

While smoking and infertility has been the subject of much research over the years, and we have known that smoking has a negative impact on fertility for both men and women, this is one of the first studies that exposes the relationship between secondhand smoking and infertility. The data is important because so many people are of the mindset that active smokers are the only ones at risk.

A new study of 88,732 postmenopausal women found that women who were active smokers were 14 percent more likely to have problems conceiving. Similarly, researchers observed similar fertility problems in women with prolonged exposure (more than 10 to 20 years) to secondhand smoking, also known as passive smoking. This group was 18 percent more likely to experience problems conceiving than women who were not exposed.

‘This is one of the first studies of this size and statistical power to investigate and quantify active and passive smoking and women’s health issues. It strengthens the current evidence that all women need to be protected from active and passive tobacco smoke,’ the researchers write in Tobacco Control.

What is the Relation between Smoking and Infertility

Eric A. Widra, M.D., Shady Grove Fertility’s Medical Director explains further, “Smoking is one of the few, 100% proven, things known to have a direct negative impact on your fertility. For men and women, it’s one of the worst things you can do if you’re trying to conceive.”

The ability to conceive is directly impacted with the quantity of cigarettes smoked. The more cigarettes smoked, the more chemicals that enter the body, which increases the rate of follicular depletion and reduces estrogen levels in the body. Fertility treatment is also greatly impacted when the female partner smokes. The following side effects can occur:

  • Decreased response to stimulation ovarian medication
  • Decreased number of eggs available for retrieval
  • Increased number of cancelled cycles

Women are not the only ones who are impacted by smoking and infertility. Men who smoke are more likely to show a decrease in the three main factors that determine a man’s sperm quality:

  • Sperm count
  • Morphology (sperm shape)
  • Motility (movement)

Secondhand Smoking Also Shown to Affect Age of Menopause

The research also showed a correlation between secondhand smoking and early menopause. On average, women who were exposed to secondhand smoking went through menopause 13 months earlier than women with no exposure.

As we approach the New Year, make it a priority for you and the loved ones around you to stop smoking.  Visit smokefree.gov for tips to help you quit smoking and make 2016 a smoke-free year.

If you would like to learn more about smoking and infertility or to schedule an appointment with a fertility specialist, please speak with one of our New Patient Liaisons at 877-971-7755.


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