People who are trying to conceive a child often ask what they can do in order to increase their chances. For the people who are among the 13% of Australians that smoke at least once every day, the answer is very simple. The best thing that they can do to increase their chances of conceiving and improve their health throughout their pregnancy and later life is to quit smoking.
Smoking is one of the leading causes of infertility. Most people don’t realize it, but smoking can cause significant damage to the DNA inside of the smoker’s sperm and egg cells. That is the main reason that couples where even one person smokes can have a hard time conceiving, but it isn’t the only reason.
Women who smoke have additional problems at every stage of their pregnancy. It inhibits embryo transportation, hormone production, and the child’s development in the womb. Smoking is also correlated with early menopause, so women who smoke also have less time to conceive if they want to have children.
Male smokers suffer from decreased sperm count and quality. Every man has some sperm that can’t swim or are malformed, but smokers have many more of those defective sperm than other men. That’s a major problem because those sperm are usually useless for fertilizing eggs. In the long term, smoking can also sexual problems that can prevent impregnation.
During The Pregnancy
The problems that can come from smoking don’t end at conception. A woman’s body undergoes a lot of stress during a pregnancy, and smoking makes it harder for the body to deal with that stress. It can harm blood cells and inhibit the placenta’s development, which cuts down on the baby’s nutrition. Smoking also exposes the fetus to toxins that can lead to long-term injury or even a miscarriage.
Smoking also reduces the chances of having a normal, healthy birth. Smokers are much more likely to need a cesarean delivery for their child. The baby is also more likely to be born unhealthy and need to spend time in intensive care after the birth.
The Baby’s Health
Exposure to smoke is bad for everyone, but it’s especially unhealthy for infants. Infants that live with smokers are more likely to develop asthma and allergies during their early years.
Smoking can also threaten your baby’s life. Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, also known as SIDS, can strike anywhere, but it’s more common among babies who are exposed to tobacco smoke. The best way to reduce that risk is to quit smoking as early as possible. Not only can it make the parents and child healthier, it can also save their lives.
Smoking may be dangerous for people who want to have children, but there is some good news for smokers. The human body is extremely good at recovering from medical problems, and it only takes a few months for most of the effects that smoking can have on fertility to disappear. In particular, sperm takes about three months to mature, so men can eliminate the impact of smoking on their fertility in that time. That can solve fertility problems on its own, but it can also provide a huge amount of emotional support for a man’s partner that is undergoing fertility treatments at the same time.
Women can also improve their fertility quite quickly by giving up on smoking. Quitting has been shown to improve the effectiveness of IVF treatments in addition to improving natural fertility. It also prevents prevents problems from developing during the pregnancy.
If both parents smoke, quitting together is a great way to make sure they can kick the habit for good. Support networks are the most important thing for people who are trying to quit, and no support network is stronger than love.
The Next Step
If you are having fertility problems, the first step is to ask your GP for advice. If you’ve already started seeing a fertility specialist, they can give you more specific instructions if you discuss your concerns with them. If you’d prefer to work on your own, you can find plenty of resources at quit.org.au and similar sites.