Download a PDF of this fact sheet here
Can smoking affect my ability to have a child?
Most people understand that smoking increases the
risk for heart, vascular, and lung disease. Many do
not realize that smoking can also lead to problems with
fertility in both men and women. Erectile dysfunction
and pregnancy complication rates are also increased
Will smoking affect my eggs or sperm?
Chemicals (such as nicotine, cyanide, and carbon
monoxide) in cigarette smoke speed up the loss
rate of eggs. Unfortunately, once eggs die off, they
cannot regenerate or be replaced. This means that
menopause occurs 1 to 4 years earlier in women who
smoke (compared with non-smokers).
Male smokers can suffer decreased sperm quality with
lower counts (numbers of sperm) and motility (sperm’s
ability to move) and increased numbers of abnormallyshaped
sperm. Smoking might also decrease the
sperm’s ability to fertilize eggs.
How can smoking impact my ability to conceive?
Women who smoke do not conceive as efficiently as
nonsmokers. Infertility rates in both male and female
smokers are about twice the rate of infertility found in
nonsmokers. The risk for fertility problems increases
with the number of cigarettes smoked daily.
Even fertility treatments such as IVF may not be able
to fully overcome smoking’s effects on fertility. Female
smokers need more ovary-stimulating medications
during IVF and still have fewer eggs at retrieval time
and have 30% lower pregnancy rates compared with
IVF patients who do not smoke.
Because smoking damages the genetic material
in eggs and sperm, miscarriage and offspring
birth-defect rates are higher among patients who
smoke. Smokeless tobacco also leads to increased
miscarriage rates. Women who smoke are more likely
to conceive a chromosomally unhealthy pregnancy
(such as a pregnancy affected by Down syndrome)
than nonsmoking mothers. Ectopic pregnancies and
preterm labor also occur more often among female
Can smoking affect my children?
Men whose mothers smoked half a pack of cigarettes
(or more) a day had lower sperm counts. Smoking
during pregnancy also can lead to growth restriction
of the baby before birth. Children born with lower-thanexpected
birth weights are at higher risk for medical
problems later in life (such as diabetes, obesity, and
cardiovascular disease). Children whose parents
smoke are at increased risk for sudden infant death
syndrome (SIDS) and for developing asthma.
I don’t smoke but my partner does. Could this
secondhand smoke affect my fertility?
Women exposed to secondhand smoke can suffer all
the above health risks.
If I stop smoking, will my chances for conceiving
and having a healthy pregnancy improve?
Yes. Quitting smoking can improve fertility though
the decrease of the egg supply cannot be reversed.
The rate of pregnancy complications due to smoking
decreases the longer a person has not smoked.
Quitting smoking can be very, very difficult but studies
show that the chance for success is much higher if you
work with your health-care provider and/or a support
group. Sometimes, temporary use of a nicotine
replacement (such as nicotine gum or patch) and/or
prescription medication called bupropion can improve
quitting smoking rates, and you can use these while
trying to conceive, if needed. Though it generally isn’t
advised to use these during pregnancy, you and your
health-care provider might consider their use during
pregnancy after weighing the risks and benefits.
Smoking and Infertility-pdf