Quitting smoking and fertility
Smoking affects fertility in both men and women, making it more difficult to get pregnant, and reducing the chances of a having a safe and healthy pregnancy for both mother and baby. If either member of a couple smokes, it can reduce fertility. Smoking can damage both eggs and sperm and is associated with higher chances of ectopic pregnancy (when a fertilised egg grows on the outside of the uterus), miscarriage, birth defects such as a cleft lip or cleft palate, and a higher probability of stillbirth. The good news is that quitting smoking can be one of the best ways to improve your fertility and the health of your baby.
According to research, quitting is one of the best ways to increase your chances of conceiving when undertaking invitro fertilisation (IVF). For women participating in IVF, smoking can reduce the likelihood of becoming pregnant, increase chances of miscarriage, and increase the risk of stillbirth. There is also some evidence that smoking by the father can increase the rate of pregnancy loss after IVF.
Smoking and periods
Female smokers are twice as likely to experience heavy periods, a less predictable menstrual cycle and severe premenstrual syndrome, with symptoms including abdominal bloating, constipation and diarrhoea, poor sleep, headache or migraine, depression, anxiety, mood swings. Quitting smoking can reduce these symptoms.
Smoking can result in earlier menopause, which signals the end of a woman’s fertility. According to research, women who smoke have more than an 80 per cent higher risk of living with severe and frequent menopause symptoms such as hot flushes and night sweats than non-smokers. But the good news is that women who quit smoking before the age of 40 greatly reduce their likelihood of experiencing these symptoms.
Erectile disfunction or impotence
Impotence, or the inability to maintain an erection, is twice as likely to occur in smokers than non-smokers. Many smoking-related diseases such as heart attack or stroke involve blockage of arteries, impacting blood flow. Similarly, impotence can be the result of poor arterial blood supply to the penis. While quitting smoking can lead to recovery from impotence for many men, damage cannot always be reversed. Heavy, long-term smokers may not regain erectile function after quitting smoking.
If you or your partner smoke and you want to have a baby, the best thing either of you can do is quit smoking. Quitting will increase your chance of conceiving because, when you stop smoking, fertility will improve. If you and your partner both smoke, quitting is something you can do together – you are more likely to be successful if you join forces. A smoke-free household is so much healthier for children because there is no risk of second-hand smoke.
Check out the Quit your way page to discover a variety of quitting methods. Tools such as the smoker-type quiz and the smoking costs calculator, will give you plenty of food for thought. For quitting support, phone the Quitline on 13 7848 to speak to a trained professional or download the My QuitBuddy app.