The rate of infertility in India has increased over the last few years with reports of more and more couples seeking medical solutions for it.
According to a 2013 World Bank estimate, the drop in fertility began a decade ago in India, with a steady 17 percent decline from the year 2000. Lifestyle-related issues, such as stress, the rise in obesity, the increasing incidence of diabetes, compounded by sedentary lifestyles, changes in eating and sleeping patterns, consumption of alcohol, smoking, and pollution are significant contributors to the infertility burden in both men and women.
The major issues related to smoking are:
1. Coronary heart disease
3. Lung Cancer
4. Respiratory diseases
Cigarette Smoking exposes the body to more than 7000 chemicals, which can affect many different organs. According to Bourn Hall Fertility Centre, Smoking also makes it harder for women to conceive. Smoking has also been known to impact the health of the baby before and after birth.
Some of the challenges women who smoke face while trying to conceive are:
1. Ovulation problems
2. Genetic damage to eggs, resulting in a reduced egg supply or even premature menopause
3. Increased risk of cancer
4. Increased risk of miscarriage
The ovaries, which are responsible for releasing the egg every month, are affected by smoking. They are also responsible for hormone regulation leading to monthly menstrual cycles.
Smoking interferes with the proper functioning of the ovaries, causing significant problems to a woman’s reproductive process, such as:
1. Hormone imbalance
2. Irregular menstrual cycles
3. Anovulation (menstrual cycle without ovulation)
4. Preterm delivery
5. Stillbirth (death of the baby before birth)
6. Low birth weight
7. Sudden infant death syndrome
8. Ectopic pregnancy- a complication of pregnancy in which the embryo attaches outside the uterus.
The impact of smoking is not restricted to women; men also suffer from infertility due to their smoking habits. The most common effect of smoking on the male reproductive system is the adverse effect it has on semen. Smoking not only decreases the quality of the semen making the sperm weak, it also affects its motility and morphology. Weak sperm is unable to reach the eggs for natural conception.
Regular smoking also reduces a person’s libido. Men find it strange that their desire for sex is no longer the same and attribute it to age. But in reality, it is their smoking which is causing this. Smoking additionally, puts men at a high risk for erectile dysfunction. A male partner smoking increases the risk of miscarriage for his wife or partner. This is a fact that most people are unaware of. Damaged sperm DNA due to smoking can lead to miscarriage. This can be devastating for expectant parents.
Couples who have trouble conceiving often seek medical intervention, such as IVF. Here, the health of both partners is paramount. The consequences of smoking can lead to a reduced chance of success from IVF, because of reduced sperm and egg quality. This is true for both smokers and those exposed to passive smoking. Hence, couples who are trying to conceive should stop smoking as soon as possible.