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Smoking and Fertility
OB/GYNs have long advocated for future moms and dads to begin a smoking cessation program — all those toxic fumes will certainly not be good for the health of a growing fetus or newborn. But, did you know that smoking may also play a detrimental role in fertility? New studies are showing just how much your daily puff could be the culprit behind your trouble conceiving.
Smoking and Conception
Before even becoming pregnant, the toxins found inside the bodies of smokers can play a major role in conceiving a child. Studies have found cigarette smoking may impair sperm motility in men, and even if fertilization is successful, boys of smokers have reduced sperm count as adults. For women, a systematic review of smoking and reproductive function out of Portugal found tobacco compounds have a negative effect on maturation of ovarian follicles, with the effect more likely during in vitro fertilization (IVF). The uterus of a smoker is also less receptive to fertility. Another systematic review of studies out of the U.K. found that 95 percent of women who smoked had significantly lower odds of fertility.
Increase of Miscarriage
Even if smoking does not hinder conception, the health of the fetus is greatly compromised by the chemicals circulating through a smoker’s bloodstream. One study out of Poland found that maternal smoking increased miscarriage rates, premature births, and premature detachment of the placenta, as well as greater risk for fetal developmental retardation and low birth rates. A U.K. study found that women were less likely to conceive when smoking and also showed they had higher odds of miscarriage than non-smokers. In fact, the same study found carbon monoxide in the body of smokers decreases oxygen levels for fetus, leading to increased risk of miscarriage. Decreased oxygen levels also leads to problems in mental development in children.
Tips for Quitting
To quit, the first thing to do is mentally prepare by setting a date to quit, letting everyone around you know you are quitting, and clearing the home of cigarettes. To help you through the withdraw, over-the-counter nicotine gum and patches are available at your local pharmacy, as well as nasal sprays, inhalers, and prescription pills, often covered by insurance programs. A free state-organized quit plan is available by calling 800-QUIT-NOW. And if you fall off the wagon, try, try again. If you’re hoping baby will make three, now is the best time to finally kick the habit.