Smoking can lead to problems with fertility

World No Tobacco Day (WNTD) is observed around the world every year on May 31.

Amongst the most deadly agents of diseases in the world today, chewing tobacco/smoking has proved to be a cause for concern, simply because it is the only death agent which is heavily promoted. If number of deaths due to tobacco consumption is anything to go by, the promotional campaigns are definitely succeeding in selling this agent of death. More than one-third adults (35%) or 274.9 million use tobacco in India. 163.7 million use only smokeless tobacco; 68.9 million are only smokers and 42.3 million users of both smoking and smokeless tobacco.

Nearly two in five adults (38%) in rural areas and one in four adults (25%) in urban areas use tobacco in some form. India is also the second largest consumer and second largest producer of tobacco in the world, second only to China. Globally 6 million people die each year due tobacco consumption-related diseases. The death toll is estimated to rise to eight million by 2030 (source:http://indiafacts.in/facts/30-cancer-deaths-in-india-due-to-tobacco-use/) .

Studies on smoking and semen quality found that smoking affects many aspects of sperm health, including decreased sperm counts, decreased sperm motility (the swimming ability of the sperm), and sperm shape.

Smoking and decreased semen quality.

Studies on male smoking have shown a decrease in the quality of semen.

Some of the effects included: Sperm concentration: Sperm concentration refers to the number of sperm found in a measured quantity of semen. Studies have shown a 23% decrease in sperm concentration in men who smoke.

Sperm motility: Sperm motility refers to the swimming capabilities of the sperm. If sperm cannot swim properly, they may have trouble reaching the egg and fertilizing it. In men who smoke, researchers found a 13% decrease in sperm motility.

Sperm morphology: Sperm morphology refers to the shape of sperm. Oddly shaped sperm may not swim well enough to get to the egg and may not be able to fertilize an egg. Male smokers have fewer healthy shaped sperm than non-smokers.

Male smokers may also have abnormal hormone levels, which can affect fertility. However, these decreases in sperm health and abnormal hormone levels may not be enough to cause infertility in men. That said, for men who are already on the borderline of infertility, smoking may be enough to push them over the edge into infertility. Quitting smoking may improve their fertility enough to not need additional fertility treatment, or at the very least, improve their chances of fertility treatment need additional fertility treatment, or at the very least, improve their chances of fertility treatment success.

Secondary effect on female fertility when the man smokes

Another factor to consider is the effect male smoking has on the female partner. Studies have shown a possible decrease in female fertility when women are exposed to secondhand smoking. If you are going to smoke, be sure to do so away from your partner, so not to negatively affect her fertility.

Smoking and IVF-ICSI success

Researchers also looked at the effect of male smoking on the success rate of IVF with ICSI treatment. ICSI treatment involves taking a single sperm and guiding it directly into the egg, in hopes it will lead to fertilization. It’s often used in cases of moderate to severe male infertility, or when previous IVF treatments have failed for unknown reasons.

The researchers found that male smoking had a significant effect on the success rates of IVF-ICSI treatment. If you’re going through fertility treatment, it’s well worth quitting smoking first to improve your chances of success.(source http://infertility.about.com/od/researchandstudies/a/male_fertility_smoking.htm)

Effect of smoking on female fertility

When women are held responsible for reproductive health, they may be blamed for their addiction to tobacco and its negative impact. Though much less medical attention has been paid to the negative effects of smoking on female fertility, there are several ways that smoking can affect female fertility. Smoking may affect the way that hormone estrogen is released. Some studies suggest that smoking reduces the amount of estrogen
that a woman’s body produces.

Smoking may cause a decrease of blood flow to the genital organs, which can cause dryness of the vagina and other sexual issues. Smoking may contribute to the destruction of eggs while they are in the ovaries, before they reach maturity. This results in a lower egg count. Smoking can negatively impact the fallopian tubes, and can even lead to disease of the fallopian tubes. Smoking can cause a woman’s eggs to be more prone to genetic problems, as well. Finally, some research has suggested that smoking may even negatively affect the ability of an embryo to implant in the uterus. (Source: http://www.babyhopes.com/articles/smoking-fertility.html).

If you are trying to conceive, most of the doctors would advice both the male and female partner to cease smoking at least two months prior to conception. Besides improving fertility, smoking cessation will definitely impede the onset of other deadly diseases like cancer, heart attacks, strokes etc. Quitting smoking makes sense for many reasons, so quit today before smoking kills you and probably the new life to come!

Source: Dr. Sujata Dhanuka, AVP – Medico Marketing, Metropolis Healthcare Ltd.
Image: Thinkstockphotos.com

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