Smoking, Sex and Fertility: Three Negative Effects for Men
Looking for answers
If you’re having difficulty getting your partner pregnant, you’re probably looking for answers. However, the answer could be pretty simple if you’re a smoker or you’re exposed to second-hand smoke: Smoking can reduce your fertility. In fact, infertility rates in both male and female smokers are about twice as high as for nonsmokers. The risk of fertility problems increases with the number of cigarettes smoked every day. Here are three reasons why:
1. The connection between smoking and erections
Smoking tobacco on a regular basis can damage your blood vessels, reducing blood flow throughout your body — including to your penis. This is because nicotine is a vasoconstrictor, which means that it causes blood vessels to tighten up. This can harm your sexual performance and lead to erectile dysfunction, because successful erections partly depend on a reliable blood supply.
2. How smoking can damage the DNA in sperm
Smoking can damage sperm DNA (which carries the genetic instructions needed for reproduction). When this happens, it lowers the chances of conception. This is because smoking can cause a protein imbalance that makes sperm vulnerable to DNA damage. Smoking can also increase the concentration of free radicals in the sperm — a condition that can cause sperm DNA to break apart. In addition, sperm with damaged DNA is less likely to successfully fertilize an embryo.
3. Smoking’s effects on miscarriages and childhood health
When a smoker’s sperm successfully fertilizes an embryo, there’s a higher chance than normal that the pregnancy will end in a miscarriage or that your child will experience health issues. For example, fathers who smoke more than 20 cigarettes per day at the time of conception have a higher likelihood of having a child who has childhood leukemia.
Other ways that smoking affects your body
At this point, I should also remind any smokers out there that smoking can harm almost every organ in your body. Smokers have a higher chance of hearing and sight loss, tooth cavities, heart attacks, strokes, broken bones, and tired muscles. This list goes on and on.
What happens if you quit smoking?
The good news is that no matter how long you’ve smoked, quitting will cause your sperm to become healthier. Since it takes about three months for sperm to mature, your sperm will most likely be much healthier after about three months.
In other words, quitting smoking will increase your chances of fathering a healthy baby. The same goes for your partner: If she’s a smoker, then there’s a higher chance that the chemicals in tobacco smoke will damage the genetic material in her eggs. But if she quits smoking, her eggs will become healthier … and you’ll be breathing less second-hand smoke.
When to get a male fertility evaluation
Of course, there’s a chance that there’s another reason that you and your partner are unable to get pregnant. If it’s been more than a few months since you quit smoking and you’re still concerned, it might be a good idea for you to see a specialist. A qualified urologist can conduct a male fertility evaluation to check your testosterone levels and the health of your sperm, DNA, prostrate and more.