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Smoking Killed My Thyroid and Aged My Ovaries
a blog by Julie Monacelli, November 21, 2013
Today, is the Great American Smokeout, when smokers use this date to either quit smoking or begin their smoking cessation plan. You will see the campaign everywhere as volunteers challenge people to quit or remain quit. As a former smoker, I can’t say this date ever meant much to me. In fact, it was just another year that I failed to meet the expectation. When I finally got onboard the quitting train, I couldn’t breathe, I smelled like an ashtray, my thyroid was wiped out and my ovaries aged four times what they should have.
I believe smoking most likely damaged my thyroid, since I was diagnosed right after I quit. One of the components of tobacco is cyanide, which is converted to thiocyanate (an antithyroid substance that decreases the ability of triiodothyronine (T3 for those of you that know the thyroid hormones) to its receptors. I think I noticed the damage after I quit because the nicotine had been artificially fueling me for so long. I went to the doctor about it when I gained weight though. Hypothyroidism (and hyperthyroidism, but I don’t have that) has been associated with impaired fertility.
Fast forward to my IVF cycles… As it turns out, I really did a number on my fertility success rate by smoking. For every year I smoked over 10 cigarettes a day, I aged my ovaries by four years. I aged my ovaries by 10 years, easily. The American Society for Reproductive Medicine says “menopause occurs one to four years earlier in smoking women than in nonsmokers.” They noted follicle stimulating hormones (FSH) were 66% higher in active smokers than in nonsmokers. For those exposed to second hand smoke, FSH was 39% higher than nonsmokers. Lower anti-mullerian hormone levels (AMH), which are usually found in advanced reproductive ages and perimenopausal women, were found in smokers. Yep, that’s me… average FSH of 10 and AMH below 0.5.
Smoking also appears to damage genes in the egg and sperm. That’s me too… about 1/3 of my eggs retrieved even fertilized.
So much for my cool Virginia Slims when I was young and my advanced Newport smoking a few years later (I really stepped through the cigarette world with those brands, huh?) Thanks to the Great American Smokeout I am reminded that every fertility medication I take could have been avoided if I had just quit.
Whether you quit today, tomorrow or next month… Or if it's your New Years resolution... if you want a baby, you should figure out a way to make it happen…