smoking and fertility

9 June 2019

Read time: 3mins

Fertility and Smoking

Dr Raelia Lew

Written by

Dr Raelia Lew

Find out more about Dr Raelia Lew

Share this

For the 13% of Australian adults who smoke every day, quitting smoking  is one of the best things you can do, not only if you are trying to conceive but also for your future health, pregnancy and birth.

Written by Dr Raelia Lew, fertility specialist at Melbourne IVF

Clear the air for your fertility, pregnancy and baby

One of the most common questions asked by couples on their fertility journey is “What can I do to improve my chance of conceiving?”  
For the 13% of Australian adults who smoke every day, quitting smoking  is one of the best things you can do, not only if you are trying to conceive but also for your future health, pregnancy and birth.

Smoking and infertility

Did you know smoking damages the DNA in your and your partner’s eggs and sperm? For this reason it may be harder and take some couples longer to conceive where one or both partners smoke.
If a woman smokes, it can have affects at each stage of the reproductive process, including egg maturation, hormone production, embryo transport and the environment in the uterus. Women who smoke are also more likely to go through menopause at a younger age.
For men who smoke, sperm quality and numbers can be adversely affected. This means that the sperm don’t swim as well and a higher proportion appear abnormal. In the longer term, smoking damages blood vessels, making it more likely for men to develop erectile problems and sexual dysfunction.

Smoking and pregnancy

By avoiding exposure to first or second hand (passive) smoke, you give your unborn baby the best chance of normal growth and being born close to full term. Forming a strong placenta with healthy blood vessels is critical to sustain a baby’s optimal growth and nutrition in pregnancy. It also provides the baby with the resilience to cope without distress through a normal labour. Your baby will be less likely to be delivered by caesarean or need to be admitted to a neonatal intensive care nursery. Additionally, the toxins from cigarettes can also trigger a miscarriage.

Smoking and the baby’s health

By quitting smoking you reduce your baby’s risk of developing childhood asthma and allergies. You also reduce your baby’s risk of cot death, otherwise known as Sudden Infant Death Syndrome or SIDS.

Quitting improves your natural fertility

There is more good news for quitters. Sperm is constantly reproduced within the male testicles and takes approximately three months to mature, meaning that in just a few months after quitting a man’s sperm is ‘smoke free’ and ‘baby ready’! If you are struggling with the burden of infertility and watching your partner go through invasive treatments, you may often suffer feelings of helplessness and even guilt. If you smoke, quitting is a huge gesture of support to your partner, showing her that you are willing to tackle something really difficult so you can have a baby together.

For women, quitting smoking has been shown to enhance both natural fertility and IVF outcomes.

Furthermore, couples who quit together are much more likely to permanently kick the habit. Choosing to quit smoking when you are thinking about starting a family is an amazing gift you can give to your baby.

What next?

If you are having difficulties giving up smoking, speak to your GP for more advice. If you are already seeing a Fertility Specialist, discuss your concerns with them and they can provide you with help on what to do next.

Alternatively, there are many resources you can turn to online for help such as

Make an enquiry

Request an appointment

Talk to a fertility expert

1800 111 483

Similar articles

Donor conception baby

1 August 2021

Today's Fertile Minds article discusses donor conception - the process, privacy regulations in Australia, legislation and more.
Peter Illingworth

Written by

Assoc. Prof. Peter Illingworth

Menstrual disorders explained

1 July 2021

In this Fertile Minds article, we talk menstrual disorders and their affect on fertility - from irregular periods, painful periods, heavy periods and more.
dr iris wang

Written by

Dr Iris Wang

Fertility Specialist

Destigmatising Assisted Reproduction

26 May 2021

One of the world’s first ‘IVFlings’, Rebecca Featherstone, shares her insight into how far we’ve come in destigmatising assisted reproduction in Australia.
Rebecca Featherstone

Written by

Rebecca Featherstone

Relationship Manager