About Fertility

Women Who Smoke Take Longer to Conceive

Women Who Smoke Take Longer to Conceive

Smoking, especially nicotine, affects fertility in both women and men. The degree to which nicotine affects fertility is so pronounced that third-party payers that offer fertility coverage, such as Blue Cross Blue Shield, Harvard Community Health Plan, and Tufts Health Plan, do not cover fertility care for smokers and people who use nicotine products. In fact, they mandate that blood levels of cotinine, a metabolic by-product of nicotine, be negative, or fertility coverage otherwise offered will be denied. Women who smoke take longer to conceive, while men who smoke have lower sperm counts, lower sperm motility, and an increased amount of abnormal sperm.

Women Who Smoke Take Longer to Conceive

There are cost-effective reasons for insurance companies to deny fertility coverage to people who smoke or other nicotine-containing products. To begin with, women who smoke take longer to conceive than women who do not smoke. One study found that tobacco consumption affects uterine receptivity (embryo implantation), and even comparatively low levels of nicotine can have a significant impact on a woman’s fertility. The success of in vitro fertilization (IVF) can be reduced by as much as 50% compared to women having IVF who have never smoked.

Additional data from IVF studies have shown that both egg quality and embryo quality are negatively affected by nicotine and its metabolic by-products. Ectopic pregnancies are also more common in smokers, as are miscarriages, premature births, stillbirths, low birth weight babies, and sudden infant death syndrome. A growing body of evidence suggests that maternal smoking may have a negative impact on the fertility of both female and male offspring because smoking during pregnancy reduces the number of cells that form eggs in females and, ultimately, sperm in males.

Cigarette Smoking and Male Fertility

Cigarette smoking negatively affects male fertility starting in utero. Men whose mothers smoked during pregnancy are at risk of having smaller testes, lower mean sperm concentration, and lower sperm counts. Men who smoke have lower sperm counts, lower sperm motility, and more morphologically abnormal sperm than men who do not smoke. Even light smoking is associated with reduced male fertility. There is also evidence that smoking is associated with male sexual impotence increasing with the number of cigarettes smoked per day.

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We want each of our patients to have the safest, healthiest pregnancy possible. If you have questions about the effects of smoking on fertility or would like to set up a consultation, please contact us today for an initial consultation.


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