While the reproductive risks of smoking are well documented, there is little public awareness about them. This small summary will review the reproductive hazards associated with cigarette smoking for both men and women:
- Adverse impact of tar on egg quality and DNA results in delayed conception delay, infertility, increased risk of miscarriages and tubal pregnancies. IVF pregnancy rates are 50% lower in smokers vs. non-smokers of the same age.
- Menopause occurs 3-4 years earlier in smokers due to egg depletion.
- Boys born from smoking mothers have a lower sperm count vs. non-smokers.
- The risks of second hand smoking is significant.
- All sperm parameters are affected: concentrations, motility and morphology.
- May affect sperm DNA fragmentation and cause an embryo to stall past day 3.
- Reproductive risk in the male is less conclusive than the risk in the female.
- Nicotine replacement and non-nicotine medications like Chantix® are definitely helpful to avoid tar exposure. We recommend cessation 6-8 weeks prior to IVF. The use of a potent anti-oxidant like pycnogenol may be also hepful by improving DNA and chromosomal stability.
- IVF is not able to overcome the toxic effect of smoking on egg DNA.
Knowledge of the link between cigarette smoking and infertility increases the likelihood of stopping smoking successfully. The accumulated evidence supports the value of smoking cessation in both men and women interested in conception.