Smoking While Pregnant, Fertility, & Breastfeeding
If you’re a smoker who’s planning a family or who’s pregnant, you need to know that the chemicals in cigarette smoke have adverse effects on sexual health, fertility, and the fetus.
If you’re a smoker who’s pregnant and want to quit, that’s great news. As soon as you quit, you increase your chances for a healthier pregnancy. Also, you should know about Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) - both when you’re pregnant and when you’re breastfeeding, so you can make informed decisions about quitting smoking.
Men and Fertility
Smoking is directly responsible for erectile dysfunction1 and increases the risk of impotence by 27% (even in young people) because cigarette-smoke chemicals decrease your blood pressure rate. Even when consumed moderately, nicotine and carbon monoxide affect erectile capacity.
Cigarette smoke slows the secretion of testosterone, causing a decrease in libido. As well, sperm are fewer and less mobile, so fertility is decreased. Smoking also impairs sperm DNA, increasing the risk of complications during pregnancy and birth defects.
Women and Fertility
Smoking causes hormonal changes and reduces fertility by about a third. On average, smokers take twice as long as non-smokers to conceive a child.
Smoking while on the contraceptive pill promotes clot formation, damages and narrows the walls of blood vessels, and significantly increases your risk for cardiovascular complications – even a stroke.
Cigarettes sometimes disturb women’s menstruation cycles, making them irregular and more painful.
Smoking While Pregnant
Some of the effects smoking could have on your pregnancy include:2
- Poisonous chemicals in cigarette smoke pass through you to your baby.
- Cigarette smoke disrupts the amount of oxygen that reaches your baby.
- The risk of congenital defects, such as cleft lip or limb deficiencies, increases.
The good news is that stopping smoking at any stage of pregnancy is beneficial. So the moment you quit, you start increasing your chances of a healthier pregnancy and a healthier baby .
Ideally, you should quit smoking when you’re pregnant without using NRT. Stopping smoking completely is by far the best option. But if you think you need NRT, please ask your doctor or healthcare professional.
Smoking While Breastfeeding
If you’re breastfeeding, you should try to give up smoking without NRT. But if you can’t manage that, your best option is an NRT product which is taken intermittently. However, you should talk with your doctor or healthcare professional for advice.
- C Millett, et al. - Smoking and erectile dysfunction: findings from a representative sample of Australian men
- Tobacco in Australia - Pregnancy and smoking