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The effects of smoking on fertility

Broken cigarette

Smoking has been shown to reduce fertility in women and men, reduce the chances of success of fertility treatments and harm the unborn child if pregnancy occurs. In women, smoking can have a negative effect on egg cell maturation and hormone circulation and thus severely impair successful fertility treatment. Male smokers often produce less sperm. Men's sperm also contain more toxins and fewer antibodies. Thus, both smoking and passive smoking have a negative effect on the fertility of women and men - a possible factor for why couples who wish to have children may have not been successful in becoming pregnant.

Smoking and fertility - effects on women

The harmful effects of various ingredients of cigarette smoke are widely documented, so that women are demonstrably less willing to conceive than non-smokers. In women, smoking has a negative effect on ovarian function and the hormone cycle responsible for egg maturation. It also lowers the concentration of female hormones in the blood (estrogen and progesterone).

Smokers are also more likely to give birth to premature babies than non-smokers and their children have a higher risk of being born immature.

In addition, the cervical mucus is altered and interferes with the penetration of sperm into the uterus, which also significantly disturbs a possible pregnancy.

Smokers and artificial insemination

Overall, it is assumed that a daily consumption of 20 cigarettes doubles the waiting time for a desired pregnancy compared to non-smokers. Against this background, the chances of success of female smokers with artificial insemination also decrease. This is associated on average with longer and higher-dose hormonal treatments, while there are significantly fewer pregnancies and live births.

Women's unfulfilled desire to have children - effects of smoking:

  • In smoking women, the probability of conception in the cycle is reduced by 20-40%. 

  • On average, fewer oocytes develop in smokers than in non-smokers.

  • The risk of unsuccessful fertility treatment is greater among smoking women than among non-smoking women.

Smoking during pregnancy

If the fertility treatment is successful, the oxygen supply of the child may be considerably impaired by smoking after the onset of pregnancy. This deficiency leads to more frequent growth delays in the children.

Smoking and fertility - effects on men

Compared to non-smokers, men who smoke produce fewer sperm on average and their mobility is also reduced. Their seminal fluid also contains elevated levels of cadmium and lead and a reduced concentration of antibodies such as vitamin C. The spermatozoa are also more often found in the sperm. Last but not least, smokers' sperms show increased genetic damage.

As with smoking women, the chances of success of smokers with artificial insemination are significantly reduced. This is particularly true if both partners smoke.

Unachieved desire to have children in men - effects of smoking:

  • Smokers clearly produce fewer sperm.

  • Smokers' sperm contain more toxins and fewer antibodies.

  • Smoking reduces sperm motility and size.

  • Smokers often damage the genetic material or DNA of sperm cells.

  • Conversely, men who do not smoke have a significantly higher chance of successful artificial insemination..

Fertility treatment more successful for non-smokers

Couples who wish to have children with the help of fertility treatment should always think about a healthy lifestyle and in any case about not smoking.

This is because points such as nutrition, alcohol, overweight and underweight, stress and even smoking can have a negative impact on the probability of a possible pregnancy.

If the motivation to quit smoking has been lacking so far, fertility treatment is the right time to do so, as smoking can have a decisive influence on the readiness of women and men to conceive. If you would like to know more about the connection between smoking and the desire to have children, please contact us now.

Treatment offered at these TFP clinics:

  • Wels


    4600 Wels

    +43 7242224466

  • Klagenfurt


    9020 Klagenfurt

    +43 463890131

  • Vienna


    1140 Vienna

    +43 18946330

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