Nicotine and Fertility - a Losing Battle

When you're ready to have a baby and want to become pregnant, it can be very frustrating to wait. Unfortunately, our bodies don't always listen to our hearts, and we can't become pregnant on command. It is important, during this time when you are trying to become pregnant, to prepare your body as much as possible and to actively do things to increase your fertility. One of the worst things that you can do for yourself during this time is to smoke.


Smoking decreases your chances of becoming pregnant, according to a number of studies that have been conducted on this issue. Studies that have been done with mice show that nicotine decreases the maturation rate of the eggs, and decreases ovulation rates. One study, done by the Advanced Fertility Center of Chicago, also found chromosomal abnormalities in the eggs that had been exposed to nicotine. Similarly, a number of studies have shown that women who smoke take, on average, an additional two months to conceive than do women who don't smoke. The British Medical Association found that women who smoke have a 40% lower chance of becoming pregnant than do nonsmokers. They also found that both smoking and passive smoke cause more than 5000 miscarriages every year and may also be to blame for over 120,000 cases of male impotence in men who were between the ages of 30 and 50.

Nicotine and Infertility Treatment

If you've had trouble getting pregnant and resort to IVF, you'll also find that nicotine hinders your chances of becoming pregnant. Those who smoke have less egg retrieval with IVF than do non smokers. They also have less rates of fertilization of the eggs and more miscarriages with their IVF pregnancies. One study found that women who have never smoked were 2.7 times more likely to be able to get pregnant with IVF than were women who used to smoke or who now smoke. This risk goes up to 4.8 if the woman smoked for five years or more. Any woman who has undergone IVF knows that it is a time consuming, expensive and emotionally taxing process. It's certainly important to put yourself and your body in the best situation possible to make IVF work for you.

Nicotine and Men

These studies have also shown that if the male partner smokes, it can also have a negative influence on the IVF process. Researches don't yet know if this is due to the damage the nicotine does to the sperm, or to something else, but they have found that IVF is less effective in situations where the male smokes.

Give It Up

It is amazing to see what the research says about the effect that giving up smoking can have on fertility. Just one year after a woman stops smoking, she has as much of a chance of becoming pregnant as does someone who had never smoked. Therefore, even if you smoke now, you can still influence your chances of becoming pregnant by stopping. The smoking that you are doing now doesn't have to damage your long term chances of becoming pregnant and having a healthy baby.

This one lifestyle change can make a significant different in your chances of getting pregnant. For a woman who's hoping to have a healthy baby, it certainly seems important to understand how nicotine may be hindering your chances of conceiving.

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