It is a widespread fact that smoking is bad for ones’ health. Being a smoker can cause difficulties in conceiving and lead to infertility. There are various aspects of both men and women’s bodies that can be affected by smoking or having a history of smoking.
In women, smoking tends to increase and speed up the loss of eggs with age, which could lead to an earlier menopause. Although the purpose of pursuing treatment with IVF is to help one‘s ability to conceive, smokers may need to attempt twice as many times than non-smokers. Some components of cigarettes can remain in parts of the body and can cause damage. Studies have indicated that a component from cigarettes, cotinine, has been found in the follicular fluid at the time of egg retrieval, which can lead to ovarian toxicity. Additionally, having cotinine present increases the rate of follicular destruction and decreases reproductive function.
A focus of IVF is to increase follicles and egg production with the use of stimulation medication. For smokers, the dose of medication necessary for stimulation may need to be increased in order for the ovaries to respond.
Additionally, smoking is associated with lower implantation rates, increased risk for ectopic pregnancy or a spontaneous miscarriage.
In regards to men who smoke, they are known to have lower sperm counts and decreased motility. If these aspects are present, an option in IVF would be to consider ICSI (intracytoplasmic sperm injection).
Although IVF fertility treatment is still an option for smokers, the cessation of smoking for a few months before starting treatment has shown improved chances of conception.