So, I decided to have a look into smoking and pregnancy because it is something quite close to my heart. I’ve currently got a close family member in hospital. She’s 33 weeks pregnant and her partner is a heavy smoker in the house.
Of course, anything could have been the trigger for this, but I thought what’s the damage of knowing whether or not it could have had an effect… or not!
Here are some of the major things I found out about smoking and YOUR fertility.
Firstly, according to the British Medical Association smoking damages the reproductive system for both men and women (2004). Many studies have shown that women who do not smoke are twice as likely to get pregnant as to women who do. At the moment, it would seem it’s not completely clear as to how smoking damages fertility but it could have a detrimental effect on egg quality by making them age prematurely; a condition known as accelerated atresia.
Smoking also affects hormone balance by increasing levels of FSH (Follicle Stimulating hormone). This hormone makes your eggs mature ready for ovulation. This again can make your eggs old before their time. It can even bring on early menopause and cause irregular periods by lowering oestrogen levels. This is specifically important for women over 35 and racing against time.
Smoking also depletes levels of vitamin C within the blood stream. Vitamin C is a crucial antioxidant to have in order to prevent eggs ageing prematurely.
IF YOUR PARTNER SMOKES
Well, apart from erectile dysfunction which smoking can cause it can directly affect sperm count, motility and morphology (whether the sperm are a normal shape).
In men who show they have lower sperm counts and/or low motility have lower vitamin C levels then men with normal semen analysis.
Researchers from the University of Buffalo, USA, studied men who had smoked at least four cigarettes a day for more than two years and compared these to non smokers. They placed half and half with the bona pellucida – the shell surrounding the egg – after several hours sperm of two thirds of the smokers had failed the test. Those who failed were 75% less fertile than non-smokers. It is thought that nicotine overloads the receptors on sperm, affecting their ability to bind to the egg.
HOW SMOKING CAN AFFECT YOUR BABY TO BE
So smoking has been shown to make your eggs age faster, reduce your chance of conceiving and of having successful fertility treatment.
No fewer than 45 studies have shown that smoking is a major cause of low birth weight. Lack of oxygen to the developing baby from cigarette smoking during pregnancy also leads to a higher risk of prematurity and congenital abnormalities.
Even if you do not smoke but your partner does (over 10 cigarette’s per day) it can increase your risk of having a baby with a congenital abnormality by two and a half times.
Remember only 15% of the cigarette smoke is inhaled – the rest is in the air and can increase the risk of asthma, chest, ear, nose and throat infections.
I hope this may help either yourself, a friend or a family member with some information about smoking whether its them personally or they are unfortunate enough to be around passive smoking.