On smoking and infertility

Smoking is injurious to health … so who cares?

At least not the youth of today, who are taking to smoking in a big way. Trends also show that girls are smoking more than ever before. And at a younger age too! Between the age of 13 and 15, for every 5 boys who smoke, there are 2 girls who do. Among older women, this ratio is 1 smoker woman for 10 smoker men!

Women, you have more than one reason to give up the smoking habit. Research has shown that women smokers are 1.6 times more likely to suffer from infertility. Most studies say that the chances of conception decrease as the number of cigarettes smoked per day increases.

Nicotine and other chemicals in smoke can damage tubal function, thicken the mucus over the cervix (which does not allow sperms to pass into the uterus easily) and cause damage to her eggs. In addition, smoking causes premature ageing of the ovary and can cause menopause to occur one to four years earlier than expected.

The time taken to achieve pregnancy increases with the number of cigarettes smoked per day. Women who smoke more than 10 cigarettes a day are likely to experience infertility as a result of the smoking habit.

The good news is that fertility rates tend to improve after one year of quitting.

Women planning a pregnancy need to also take a hard look at what they are letting their offsprings in for. Toxins in cigarettes can cause miscarriages as well as ectopic pregnancy. Babies of smoking moms tend to be smaller and may deliver prematurely too. Fathers who smoke and let her smoke passively also increase the risks to their babies.

Women smokers also increase their risk of breast and cervical cancer, as also osteoporosis.

So, girls, don’t you think it is about time we kicked the butt?

Dr Suman Bijlani
The author is a leading gynaecologist and obstetrician consulting at the SL Raheja Fortis and Kohinoor Hospitals

Image: JavierPsilocybin