How Dreams Go up in Smoke

Smoking and Infertility

By: Ace C. Odulio


While the effects of nicotine and tobacco smoke to one’s lungs – such as being a risk factor of lung diseases like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and lung cancer – have been widely circulated and commonly known, it is also important to discuss smoking’s harmful effects to a couple’s ability to conceive a child; which is, in some regard, just as devastating as a chronic and lifelong disease.


Infertility, which is the failure to achieve a pregnancy after 12 or more months of regular unprotected sexual intercourse, is caused by both biological and lifestyle factors. While risk factors such as age and genetics are uncontrollable, there are factors like over- or underweight, alcohol consumption, and smoking that can also increase your risk of being infertile—the good news is, such factors can be prevented by simply changing one’s lifestyle.


“The chemicals in tobacco smoke – nicotine, cyanide, and carbon monoxide, among others – damages the genetic material in both the female’s eggs and the male’s sperm,” confirmed Grethel Vasquez, M.D., a fertility expert at Dr. Jesus C. Delgado Memorial Hospital.


Such chemicals help speed up the loss of a female’s eggs and loss of reproductive function. Once these eggs die off, they cannot be replaced or regenerate. And without eggs, conception cannot occur. Moreover, menopause occurs one to four years earlier for female smokers compared to non-smokers. Therefore, the window for smokers to have a baby is likewise shorter than that of non-smokers.


Meanwhile, male smokers can suffer lower sperm quality, count and motility, as well as increased numbers of abnormally-shaped sperm. Smoking may also decrease the sperm’s ability to fertilize eggs due to DNA damage in the sperm.


Hence, smoking increases the risk of infertility rates and time to conceive of both female and male smokers compared to non-smokers. Furthermore, during the early stage of pregnancy, the risk for abortion or miscarriage is also increased for smokers.


“The quantity of cigarettes consumed per day matters,” Dr. Vasquez confirmed. “For example, a 2007 study show that men who smoke a pack of 20 cigarettes a day experience around a 19% reduction in sperm concentration compared to non-smokers.”


Secondhand smoking is likewise harmful for couples looking to conceive. Women exposed to secondhand smoke for many years may experience the same fertility problems that smokers deal with.


 “Since vape products are unregulated, much is still undetermined about the exact negative effects of vaping to fertility,” commented Dr. Vasquez. “What is certain, though, is that like vaping isn’t a safer alternative to tobacco products. Vape products still contain toxic chemicals that can harm the man’s sperm.”


A Ray of Hope


“It takes around three months of being smoke-free for the change to impact sperm health,” Dr. Vasquez asserted. “So, while smoking cessation is a challenging endeavor, the couple needs to understand that the choice to quit smoking altogether drastically increases the chance of conceiving.”


Indeed, smoking is one avoidable lifestyle factor that can affect fertility. Still, to find out what exactly is hindering your ability to have a baby, a visit to a specialist is the best course of action.


          “It is important to know the actual causes of a couple’s inability to conceive,” remarked Dr. Vasquez, who is also the Clinic Manager of the Delgado Assisted Fertility Center (DAFC). “DAFC serves as a safe haven for couples where they are ensured of comfort and privacy when talking about their challenges with infertility. Our urologists and fertility experts are available to discuss all your inquiries about the dreaded condition, and present you with the appropriate testing and treatment options.”


          The Center provides affordable packages for fertility consultations, testing, and treatments such as intrauterine insemination (IUI), a simple and cost-efficient procedure that features inserting a suitable number of healthy sperm directly inside the woman’s uterus around the time of ovulation to ensure the maximum chance for conception.


“DAFC provides yearning couples with a ray of hope so that their dreams of having a baby won’t go up in smoke,” Dr. Vasquez assured.






The Delgado Assisted Fertility Center (DAFC) is located at the ground floor of Dr. Jesus C. Delgado Memorial Hospital, located along Kamuning Road, Quezon City. For your inquiries on assisted fertility, contact us at 8924-4051 to 65 ext. 407.

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How Alcohol Consumption Affects Fertility

Why IUI?
Assisted Fertility Extends Hope for Yearning Couples