The younger generation is more addicted to tobacco / smoking and the situation is only getting worse day by day. Although the effect of smoking on lung cancer is well known, other serious effects of smoking have not often been studied. Recently, evidence has shown its shocking impact on reproductive health, regardless of gender.

In recent years, the total number of couples visiting infertility clinics has increased dramatically. Infertility, as defined by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, is the inability to get pregnant after a one-year period of regular, unprotected sex.

Effects of Smoking on Male Fertility

Tobacco smoke contains more than 4000 harmful substances and for a long time it has been feared that smoking could have a detrimental effect on male reproduction. Smoking results in reduced sperm quality, including semen volume, sperm density, motility, viability, and normal morphology in smokers.

In addition, smokers are also known to be affected by disorders of the reproductive hormonal system, dysfunction of spermatogenesis, the process of sperm maturation and impaired sperm function.

Effects of Smoking on Female Fertility

Smoking also has devastating effects on female fertility. Women who smoke are more likely to experience primary and secondary infertility and delays in conception. Moreover, it could have devastating consequences if done during pregnancy with terrible consequences for the mother and her baby. A number of adverse outcomes have been associated with smoking during pregnancy, including stillbirth, prematurity and low birth weight.

Smoking can put the baby at serious health risks during pregnancy and even after birth. All harmful chemicals, including nicotine and other carcinogens inhaled by tobacco, inhale the mother’s bloodstream and enter the baby’s circulation directly through the placenta. Of the 7,000 known harmful chemicals found in tobacco smoke, more than 70 are known to be carcinogens or cause cancer.

Smoking during pregnancy obstructs the placenta, resulting in decreased oxygen flow as well as adequate nutrient supply to the baby. Among other health risks, it can increase the risk of miscarriage and stillbirth as well as hindering a baby’s proper development and low birth weight. In many cases, the baby has an abnormal heart rate and many of them end up having breathing problems. An increased rate of preterm births is also one of the adverse health effects that smoking during pregnancy has to offer.

Moreover, it is not only the baby that is at risk, smoking is also harmful for the mother. The mother is also at equal risk for cancer, cardiovascular disease, emphysema, and other conditions. There is absolutely nothing called safe smoking during pregnancy, the health risks only increase with every cigarette you smoke.

Risks of passive smoking

Passive smoking involves inhaling tobacco smoke while near a smoker. It is widely proven that secondhand smoke can cause lung cancer and other health problems like cardiovascular disease, asthma, etc. It can also lead to other types of cancer, stroke, lung disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). According to WHO reports, more than a third of all people are regularly exposed to the harmful effects of smoke worldwide. Each year, approximately 600,000 deaths are recorded as a result of exposure to smoke and this smoke is responsible for approximately 1% of the global burden of disease worldwide. Almost all regions of the world are threatened. Passive smoking is very dangerous for pregnant women. All the risks of smoking during pregnancy apply to passive smoking of pregnant women.

The health risks for babies exposed to secondhand smoke are enormous. They are at high risk of developing asthma attacks, breathing problems, ear infections, impaired lung development and coughing. Children exposed to second-hand smoke may require more ear tube surgeries than those who are not exposed. Lower IQ in children is also associated with exposure to secondhand smoke

Nicotine replacement products are not the answer

While it is not easy to quit smoking, but in an attempt to kick the ass, you should not resort to nicotine replacement products. They decrease cravings, but also cause a build-up of nicotine in the bloodstream in those who use them. The nicotine then enters the baby’s circulation directly from the mother through the placenta, which will ultimately endanger the health of the baby and the mother.

It is therefore strongly recommended that pregnant women refrain from smoking in any form whatsoever during pregnancy.

(Written by Dr Archana Dhawan Bajaj, Gynecologist, Obstetrician and IVF Specialist. The point of view expressed in the article is her own)