Effect of smoking on fertility

Effect of smoking on fertility

Smoking is one of the most widespread bad habits. We have been told about the harmful effect of nicotine starting from school years, everyone knows about it - from the youngest to the oldest, but despite that this knowledge does not prevent people from “poisoning” themselves.

So, we all know about the nicotine, but not everyone knows that while smoking, other extremely harmful substances are released. In details, while smoking cigarettes, the following chemicals are released: ethylene oxide, radioactive polonium, arsenic, ammonia, bismuth, organic acids such as formic acid, hydrogen acid, acetic acid, toxic gases such as hydrogen sulfide and carbon monoxide.

The most harmful ones in this list are nicotine and hydrogen cyanide.

Smokers often hear about that smoking is harmful to their lungs; however, not only do cigarettes affect the lungs, but also the neurological system. In adolescents, smoking increases the risk of developing neurological disorders. Even in adults, who seem to be absolutely mentally and physically healthy, smoking causes disorders related to attention, memory and impairs mental activity. Smoking also impedes the functioning of the endocrine system.

Woman and smoking

The stereotype that smoking is a mostly male problem is deeply rooted in our society, but the statistics say that every fifth woman of reproductive age suffers from this addiction. In the last few years, the number of women who smoke increased by 3-4 times.

The difference between male and female smoking is that women start smoking much later men meaning that their choice is more conscious. The worst fact is that most of these women continue smoking in the first trimester of pregnancy and some during the whole period of pregnancy.

The reasons why women start smoking include the following:

  • extremely fast pace of life and stressful lifestyle;
  • stress at work;
  • personal problems;
  • for some, smoking is integral of their style;
  • some of them believe that smoking is a way to distract themselves and calm down;
  • some of them believe that smoking makes them more confident and facilitates their communication;
  • some women can’t identify the reasons why they smoke and thus can’t get rid of this bad habit or simply don’t want to quit it.

Smoking and pregnancy

It has already been mentioned that a large number of women who smoke, do not quit their bad habit in the first trimester of pregnancy, and some continue smoking for the whole period of pregnancy.

In this extract, we will discuss in more detail, what happens to a fetus and pregnant woman while smoking.

In pregnant women who smoked before pregnancy or who continue smoking, the poorer blood supply to the placenta may be observed. The placenta may get attached in a too low position and thus lead to complications during labors. Such women present vascular changes in placenta, and the fetal heart rate increases.

While smoking, the fetal blood accumulates nicotine, meaning that nicotine gets through to the fetus in one minute of smoking.

Nicotine causes excessive muscle uterine contraction that may pose the thread of miscarriages, premature labors, stillbirths, various abnormalities in the child (cleft palate).

Doctors also say that children born to mothers who smoke have lower body weight, it is associated with the fact that in the first trimester the fetus gets less nutritious substances. The more mother smokes, the lower is the weight of the newborn. Such children have weak or unstable nervous system.

Effect of smoking on fertility

When discussing male fertility, it is necessary to mention that smoking affects sperm morphology, i.e. the structure of spermatozoa, as well as quantity and quality of sperm. Toxic chemicals that enter the body during smoking interfere with sperm motility, and it directly affects sperm quality.

In smokers, the results of semen analysis may often indicate the presence of some diseases such as asthenozoospermia and teratozoospermia. Asthenozoospermia is the decrease in the quantity of movable spermatozoa and respectively, the chances for fertilization.

Teratozoospermia means the presence of spermatozoa with defects in sperm that are either unable to fertilize an egg, or if they manage to inseminate an egg, there is a high risk of fetal pathologies.

In women, smoking decreases reproductive function and leads to the ovulatory malfunction and reduction of ovarian reserve.

Smoking affects woman’s endocrinal profile, in particular the hormones such as FSH (Follicle-stimulating hormone) and LH (Luteinizing hormone).
By affecting ovaries, nicotine may cause the menstrual cycle disbalance, painful periods and preterm menopause. Smoking also increases the risk of a severe form of inflammatory diseases of reproductive organs.

Scientists discovered that insufficient oxygen supply of the fetus during pregnancy impacts its future fertility, and there is a risk that the future child may be diagnosed with infertility.
Intrauterine hypoxia is a condition that occurs when the fetus does not receive enough oxygen necessary for its development.

The lack of oxygen may cause a decrease in the number of follicles in ovaries. Even though in one cycle, only one egg matures, the overall natural follicle reserve is critical and increases the chances to get pregnant.

So, the negative impact of smoking is proven and undoubtful. It affects both male and female reproductive system. But despite that, people still do not treat this information serious enough and doubt it. Meanwhile, with every decade doctors diagnose, more and more people with infertility. The decision whether to believe in all that and whether to smoke or not is personal, but before doubting this information, it is necessary to think over whether you really want to endanger the health of your future child.

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