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Quit smoking to improve your fertility

On National No Smoking Day, we discuss how smoking could affect your fertility and the steps you can take to help you quit smoking for good.

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On National No Smoking Day, we discuss how smoking could affect your fertility and the steps you can take to help you quit smoking for good. 

Professor Nick Macklon, Medical Director at the LWC is an advocate of pre-conception care to enhance fertility and improve the success of fertility treatment.  Alongside his colleague A.J. Kermack, they have written about Preconception care and fertility including the affect of smoking on fertility and treatment outcomes.  We talk to Professor Macklon about the paper and what we can learn from his research to help patients improve their fertility and chances of success.

The effect of smoking on fertility

Since the 1980s research has shown that smoking can adversely affect female fertility.  “research suggests that women who smoke are 1.6 times more like to experience infertility than those who do not smoke.” says Professor Macklon, “Smokers also have around half the chance of a successful IVF outcome than non-smokers.”

Smoking also has a direct effect on ovarian function, the Fallopian tubes and cervix.  When you’re having IVF, this could lead to a reduced number of eggs retrieved and less embryos during IVF.  For women who smoke during treatment, there is around a 50% less chance of implantation occurring following IVF than those who did not smoke. 

For women who are pregnant, smoking leads to increased rates of miscarriage, still birth and low birth weight infants.  Work has also been carried out showing that women who smoke during pregnancy could affect their son’s sperm count when they are adults.

“Smoking can also affect male fertility.” says Professor Macklon, “Multiple studies have confirmed that the density of sperm in men who smoke is around 13-17% lower and that smoking can decrease the sperm morphology, viability and motility.”

Help to quit smoking

There are many resources available to help you stop smoking and quit for good including Stop Smoking London and British Heart Foundation websites.  You can also go to your local NHS stop smoking service who can help you with information, advice and support.

The NHS smoke free website recommends 5 practical ways to help you stop smoking:

  • 1. Prepare for the day that you quit smoking by choosing a day without stress or places where you may feel temped to smoke

  • 2. Download an app to give you advice and expertise

  • 3. Remember the reasons why you are quitting

  • 4. Find the best way to cope with cravings

  • 5. Remember there is never “just one cigarette”

You can find out more helpful hints and tips here.

If you are trying to conceive or considering having fertility treatment, stopping smoking can improve your chances.  A Fertility MOT at the LWC will help you to find out more about your fertility and make decisions for the future.  For further information, please contact us.

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