Smoking cigarettes has long been known to cause major health problems both for smokers and passive smokers. Aside from the commonly researched harmful effects such as lung disease or the long list of different types of cancers caused, smoking is also known to impact upon sperm quality, and have an effect on fertility.

Smoking affects the fertility of both men and women. In women, smoking during pregnancy causes problems with foetal growth, neonatal deaths & premature births. Men who smoke at the time of conception are found to have lower semen volume as well as decreased sperm count and motility, compared to men who don’t smoke. Not only are the sperm affected in a physical way, but the DNA itself contained within the sperm is damaged by smoking. Healthy DNA is essential for a healthy pregnancy and baby, and therefore by either partner smoking, you are having a direct effect upon your chances of a successful pregnancy.Studies on the effect of smoking upon sperm DNA damage, show that DNA could be damaged by between 30% and 400% morecompared to non-smokers, leading to reduced development of the embryo, pregnancy issues and possibly infertility.919991107_1364319007

Effects of smoking cigarettes on fertility

Smoking can affect your fertility in a number of different ways, from altering your reproductive hormones, to increasing the likelihood of an ectopic pregnancy.

  • The nicotine in cigarettes affects the levels of reproductive hormones, which affects the Menstrual Cycle, and leads to problems during pregnancy
  • Both active and passive smoking for males and females delays conception, with women finding it more difficult to become pregnant.
  • The nicotine in cigarettes increases the likelihood that the embryo will not implant and develop properly – an ectopic pregnancy.
  • A lower chance of successful IVF treatment for women who smoke.
  • Smoking affects the man’s semen in a number of different ways including the structure and shape of the sperm, decreasing the sperm count, damaging the sperm DNA, and altering the different chemicals present in the man’s semen.
  • Smoking affects the woman’s egg also, by damaging the DNA contained within the egg.

The harmful effects of smoking aren’t limited to pregnancy, as cigarettes smoke can have lasting effects on your child.


Smoking is just one of a number of bad habits and lifestyle changes that both men and women can fix in order to improve their chances of a having a successful pregnancy.