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Lifestyle Risks To Male Fertility: Smoking Blog Feature

Lifestyle Risks To Male Fertility: Smoking

Male Infertility | men's health | reproductive health | Nutrition | men and infertility

Got A Smoke?

Of all the men and women of reproductive age in the United States, 30% of women and 35% of men smoke cigarettes.  I often wonder how many of them have been informed that smoking has a negative effect on their fertility and that it increases risks for miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, and early menopause.  Survey results of 388 healthcare workers in a Connecticut Hospital supports the fact that public knowledge of reproductive health risks of smoking is possibly quite low. Just 22% knew that male and female fertility was negatively affected, and only 17% were aware that smoking increases the rate at which a woman’s eggs age. (1) These statistics beg the question: why aren’t these facts mentioned in high school health class or annual gynecological and basic physical appointments?

Cigarette, JUUL, or E-Cig – What Does Your Sperm Want You To Know?

  • Male smokers can experience decreased sperm quality: lower counts, motility, and an increased number of abnormally shaped sperm.
  • Smoking is associated with impotence/erectile disfunction.
  • Nicotine, and the more than 4,000 chemicals used in cigarettes, have been associated with damage to genetic material and studies suggest both smoke and smokeless tobacco impairs sperm function. The American Society of Reproductive Medicine has stated “semen parameters and results of sperm function tests are 22% poorer in smokers than in nonsmokers and effects are dose dependent.” (2)
  • Infertility rates for male/female smokers are double and may require nearly twice the amount of IVF attempts than that of nonsmokers. (1)
  • Women subject to secondhand smoke can experience longer conception time, miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, and preterm labor.
  • Children whose parents smoke are at greater risk for birth defects, low birth weight, sudden infant death syndrome, asthma, heart disease, diabetes, infertility, and obesity.

Why Quit? Are These Negative Effects Reversible?

  • The rate of a successful pregnancy DOES increase if the smoking stops.
  • The rate of pregnancy complications decreases.
  • Health risks to your future child will decrease.

Is Marijuana A Healthier Choice?

No, not at all. Marijuana use by either men or women has been associated with similar fertility and reproductive risks as cigarette smoking. Prenatal exposure is also associated with brain and other birth defects. 

Looking To Quit? Here Are Some Helpful Smoking Programs


American Cancer Society
quitnow.net  1-866-QUIT-4-LIFE (1-866-784-8454)

American Lung Association
lung.org/stop-smoking/join-freedom-from-smoking 1-800-LUNGUSA

National Tobacco Cessation Collaborative



1.The Practice Committee of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine Smoking and Infertility: A Committee Opinion, Fertility and Sterility (2012) 96:6

2.Sansone et al. Smoke, Alcohol and Drug Addiction and Male Fertility, Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology (2018) 16:3

About Carolyn Gundell, M.S.

Carolyn Gundell, M.S. is a nutritionist, specializing in PCOS and fertility. With over 20 years of nutrition experience, Carolyn has a special interest in helping women with conditions that affect fertility, including insulin resistance, diabetes Type1/Type 2, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), lipid disorders, celiac disease, irritable bowel syndrome, underweight and overweight concerns. Carolyn earned her M.S. in Nutrition from Columbia University and completed her undergraduate studies in Biology/Nutrition at Albertus Magnus College in New Haven. She is trained as a Research Associate in Clinical Skills Training, and is certified in HIPAA, CPR, First Aid and Food Safety & Sanitation. Previously, Carolyn worked at Pediatric Endocrine & Diabetes Specialists, The Center for Advanced Pediatrics, both in Norwalk and at Yale University Medical Center’s Obesity, Diabetes, PCOS Clinic and The Yale Fertility Center.