Smoking and Fertility

When you first started smoking, chances are you you didn’t really give the negative side effects much thought. Now that you are hooked, you are just accepting that your habit has some potential health problems associated with it. You now have a higher probability of having heart disease, emphysema and cancer. You may also l have more frequent bouts of bronchitis and pneumonia than non smokers do.

If you want to get pregnant and start a family, your habit can hinder your chances of having a successful pregnancy. Smoking can affect both female and male fertility.

Smoking and Sperm

Sperm can be quite fragile. They are susceptible to harm by many environmental factors. Diet, heat, weight, stress, alcohol and smoking can all be culprits in low fertility in men.

Smoking, both conventional cigarettes and marijuana, can have substantial negative effects on sperm. Studies have shown that cigarette smoking can cause:

  • lower sperm count
  • increase in malformed sperm
  • problems with the sperm movement

Research has shown that marijuana smoking negatively impacts the way the sperm move and makes it harder for the sperm to actually fertilize the egg.

Smoking and Female Fertility

Women who smoke can be faced with a host of issues that affect their fertility negatively.

Research has shown that smoking can cause:

  • An imbalance in the reproductive hormones
  • Decreased egg quality
  • Increased risk of ectopic pregnancy
  • Double the risk of experiencing infertility than non smokers
  • Lower success rate if you have to undergo an infertility treatment like IVF
  • Increased risk of premature menopause
  • Increased risk of miscarriage if you do get pregnant

Research shows that marijuana smoking also can cause fertility issues. It can negatively impact the egg quality and can make it harder for the eggs to be fertilized and if they are fertilized, they may not be able to implant properly in the uterine lining.

Even if a woman does not smoke, the second hand smoke from others takes a negative toll on her reproductive health and can cause difficulties in getting pregnant.

Some studies suggest that women who have never smoked have had as much as twice the degree of success when trying to conceive than those who have smoked. The rate of successful conception drops further the longer the woman has smoked.

Smoking and Pregnancy

Let’s just say you beat the odds and did manage to get pregnant while you were still smoking. The negative effects of smoking don’t just stop with your health. Your habit could seriously impact your growing baby’s health as well. The nicotine and carbon monoxide in the smoke constrict the blood vessels in your body and the baby’s umbilical cord, decreasing the amount of oxygen that that is able to get to your baby.

In addition to the decrease in oxygen levels, studies have shown that smoking while pregnant can:

  • Increase miscarriage risk
  • Cause problems with your placenta
  • Lower birth weight
  • Premature delivery
  • Increase stillbirth risk

Stop Smoking for Fertility Improvement

In addition to improving your overall health and decreasing the risk of developing a chronic health condition, stopping smoking will also improve your chances of getting pregnant. It will take several months before all the smoking related, fertility harming, toxins are cleared out of your system. So give yourself some time to get your health back into optimal range before you start trying to conceive after you stop smoking.

Smoking is a hard habit to break. You will need quite a bit of resolve, resources and support for you to make it to your goal. Just keep in mind the reason why you are quitting. You can do it and can have that beautiful, healthy baby in your arms soon.


S.R. Soares, M.A. Melo
Cigarette smoking and reproductive function
Curr Opin Obstet Gynecol, 20 (3) (2008), pp. 281–291

Menopause. 2012 Feb;19(2):126-32. doi: 10.1097/gme.0b013e318224f9ac.
Meta-analysis suggests that smoking is associated with an increased risk of early natural menopause.
Sun L1, Tan L, Yang F, Luo Y, Li X, Deng HW, Dvornyk V.