Smoking cigarettes is known to have a wide range of negative side effects on the human body. As a matter of fact, it is scientifically proven that smoking leads to an acceleration in skin aging, impaired lung function, cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, as well as increases the risk of having lung, stomach and pancreatic cancers, along with a list of other types of cancer. In addition to this myriad of negative health effects, recent scientific research shows that smoking also leads to problems with fertility in both males and females, as well as impacts their reproductive health.
Infertility: A Common Problem
As a matter of fact, according to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, approximately 15% of all couples who are trying to have children struggle with some type of infertility problem. Research shows that while most of these infertility cases are due to female factors, approximately 30% of these cases are due only to male factors. That being said, 20% of the researched couples had a combination of both male and female fertility problems. This indicates that male fertility is, in fact, an imperative aspect of the conceiving process.
In relation to smoking cigarettes, recent scientific studies show that there seems to be a strong correlation between smoking and infertility problems seen in both men and women. The main impacts that smoking has on the reproductive health and fertility of both males and females is presented in the following article.
Nicotine Consumption and Infertility
Tobacco contains around 4,000 harmful chemicals, such as cyanide, carbon monoxide and nicotine. The consumption of nicotine has the ability to impair the development of egg cells, as well as disrupt the production of hormones in women. In addition, nicotine consumption can also lead to damage in the genetic material in eggs, a rapid loss of the eggs produced, which cannot be replaced nor regenerated, as well as problems in the implantation of the fertilized egg on the uterus.
Studies have shown that women who are nonsmokers are twice as likely to become pregnant than women who smoke. Nicotine can also cause an irregular menstrual cycle and the premature onset of menopause. In order to improve the quality of the eggs, the body must have enough available antioxidants; however, smoking reduces vitamin C levels in the blood. The blood of smokers generally has a high cadmium content, which decreases the body’s capacity to absorb zinc, an important mineral for the functioning of the reproductive organs. The risk of miscarriage is also increased by nicotine consumption. What’s more, even passive smoking can have a negative effect on female fertility.
In males, nicotine consumption has the ability to damage sperm, which in turn makes them less likely to fertilize eggs, and, in the case of fertilization, the embryos are less likely to survive. Indeed, due to nicotine consumption, male smokers are more prone to having low concentration of semen, as well as sperm deformities and abnormalities. Similar to females, consuming nicotine also affects the production of hormones in males as well.
Secondhand Smoking and Infertility
Usually, spousal firsthand smoking leads to secondhand smoke exposure in females. While the risk of infertility is 14% higher for female smokers in comparison to females that do not smoke, passive female smokers have a higher risk (approximately18%) compared to female individuals who are not exposed to secondhand smoking. Female passive smokers also experience a lower pregnancy rate compared to their nonsmoking counterparts.
The Effects of Marijuana on Fertility
Also known as cannabis, marijuana is seen as a less harmful substance than nicotine in terms of its effects on fertility. However, the sperm quality, motility and count in males that smoked marijuana more than 10 times a week is lower compared to men that do not smoke marijuana. In addition to that, the sperm in males that smoke marijuana is found to be hyperactive, which prevents it from properly moving towards the egg and fertilizing it. This is due to THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), which interferes with the signals that tell the sperm when they are supposed to start swimming harder. Furthermore, men who are already struggling with infertility problems will make matters even worse by consuming marijuana.
Although a lot of studies should still be performed in order to better understand the negative side effects of cigarettes and marijuana on the fertility of both men and women, most evidence shows that individuals should quit smoking altogether in order to live in a healthier way and to increase their chances of conceiving.