A pregnancy can be an exciting time for many people. Whether you’re pregnant or not, your body is busy growing a baby. But for some women, smoking can affect their fertility.
“A big cause of infertility is smoking,” says Dr. Michael G. Goggin, MD, an infertility specialist at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio.
Smokers are up to four times more likely to have infertility problems than nonsmokers. Smoking also causes significant health problems, including heart disease, lung damage, and premature delivery.
“It’s not just the tobacco that’s at fault,” says Goggin. “It’s the tar, the carbon monoxide, the nicotine.”
How smoking affects fertility?
When a woman is pregnant, the placenta produces estrogen. This hormone helps with the development of the baby. It also helps the uterus grow.
At the same time, smoking can cause a lot of harm to the placenta.
“The placenta is the only organ that’s affected by smoking, and it’s the only organ that the fetus is affected by,” Goggin says.
Smoking can actually stop the placenta from growing.
“It’s the first line of defense to protect the baby and the mother,” he says.
When a woman stops smoking, her hormones return to normal. She may also have a more normal uterus.
Smoking and fertility in men
Smoking can also hurt male fertility.
“There’s a lot of evidence that smoking can affect the testes,” says Goggin.
The testes are the glands that produce testosterone. Smoking can damage the testes. This can reduce the amount of testosterone produced by the testes.
“There’s some evidence that heavy smoking can cause changes in sperm,” Goggin says.
He says this is why he recommends that men have regular sperm testing. This will help find any problems early on.
“If you find out you’re low in testosterone, you can try to address it” with testosterone replacement therapy, he says.
How can you stop smoking during pregnancy?
Most experts agree that quitting smoking is the best thing for both mother and baby.
“Quitting smoking is the single most important thing you can do to improve your chances of getting pregnant, your chances of having a healthy baby,” says Goggin.
But there are steps you can take to help you quit.
Follow your doctor’s advice for quitting. They can help you set up a plan and help you quit.
“It’s very important to quit tobacco before you become pregnant,” says Goggin. “If you’ve already stopped smoking, the placenta is still producing estrogen, which can affect the baby’s development.”
Be patient. Quitting smoking takes time.
If you’re pregnant, try to quit smoking at least three weeks before you become pregnant. This gives your body time to adjust.
After you stop smoking, try to have regular conversations with your partner and your doctor.
“It’s important to have support from your partner and your doctor,” says Goggin.
What are the other factors that may affect your fertility?
Smoking can affect fertility in other ways besides the placenta.
Here are some other things that can affect fertility:
If you’re under 35, smoking may be a bigger problem than for older women.
“Women between the ages of 20 and 24 have a higher fertility rate than women older than 35,” Goggin says.
Hormone levels can change throughout menopause. They can also drop during pregnancy.
Estrogen and progesterone are the main hormones for pregnancy. They help to keep the uterus lining thick.
After menopause, estrogen production decreases. This can affect the uterus lining and cause miscarriage.
Smoking causes a drop in estrogen. This can affect the lining of the uterus.
Smoking can also affect the baby’s development.
“There are a lot of different things that can affect the baby, and smoking is one of them,” Goggin says.
Pregnancy also causes a drop in estrogen. This can affect the baby’s brain development.
“It’s a major cause of problems for the baby,” he says.
Smoking can affect fertility in other ways, too.
For example, smoking can cause stress and depression, which can affect your body’s ability to get pregnant.
“You have to have a balanced life, and you have to be active and take care of yourself,” Goggin says.
“One thing that can help you quit smoking is to look at what else you can do to improve your health,” he says.
If you smoke, talk to your doctor about your pregnancy and your chances of getting pregnant.
What if you’re trying to get pregnant and you’re a smoker?
If you’re trying to get pregnant, there’s no need to quit smoking. You can have a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby.
But if you’re a smoker, there are things you can do to help prevent a pregnancy that’s affected by smoking.
If you’re not sure, talk to your doctor. They can help you set up a plan for quitting and can help you understand your options for getting pregnant.
“If you’re a smoker, you need to look at what you can do to quit,” Goggin says.
“If you know you’re going to have a baby, you need to think of what you can do to make your life better and healthier,” he says.
If you’re pregnant, talk to your doctor about your smoking and how it affects your pregnancy.
What’s the best way to quit smoking?
There are different ways to quit smoking.
You can try to quit cold turkey. This is the most extreme way of quitting. It’s not recommended for most people.
It’s best to try different methods to quit.
Quitting is often easier and less stressful if you’ve been trying to quit before.
One of the best ways to quit is to use nicotine replacement products. These can help you quit without giving up cigarettes completely.
But you can also use medication to help you quit. These include:
- Varenicline (Chantix)
- Nicotine patch
What’s the outlook?
If you’re pregnant, quit smoking. That may only take a few weeks. But it will take time for your body to adjust.
For most women, quitting smoking will help them get pregnant and have a healthy baby.
If you have other fertility issues, quitting smoking may not help you as much. But it will help you have a healthy baby.
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