When you smoke a cigarette over 7000 chemicals and substances are introduced to the body. These chemicals can and do negatively impact every aspect of your body. Your respiratory, circulation, endocrine, reproductive, and nervous systems all suffer under the influence of cigarette smoking. Smoking and fertility
We’ve all grown up hearing that ‘smoking is bad’. Parents, teachers, and even commercials give us all the reasons to quit. You know the big ones; heart disease, lung cancer, and emphysema. Did you know, though, that smoking, and just as importantly second-hand smoke from others, can also affect your fertility?
According to a recent study done by the British Medical Association, women who smoke have a 40% lower chance of conceiving. Other studies indicate that it takes women who smoke, and are able conceive, twice as long to conceive as a nonsmoking woman. Some studies have even shown that smoking actually changes the amount of estrogen a woman’s body produces and affects the blood flow to your reproductive organs. When estrogen is elevated other hormonal imbalances may follow, as the body seeks to compensate for the imbalance.
image via canva.com
Smoking can also cause the eggs to not develop correctly. So when there is ovulation and the egg is met with healthy sperm, the egg itself is not healthy enough to continue to grow, leading to miscarriage. This is due to the large amounts of toxins that interfere with the natural processes and the body cannot sustain a pregnancy. Smoking also increases several health risks during pregnancy, such as preterm labor and ectopic pregnancy.
While female infertility seems to be studied more often than that of a male, smoking is as much of an issue for men. It can decrease not only sperm count, but also affect the quality of the sperm, called sperm motility, affecting their ability to swim and fertilize a mature, waiting egg. Without quality soldiers to swim and conquer, the egg will die off as it waits ever so patiently like a damsel in distress.
There has also been some rather new research that has even shown smoking while you are trying to conceive and during pregnancy can affect the fertility of your own children. This study shows that the fertility of daughters whose mothers smoked, may have up to a two-thirds reduction in fertility. Two thirds! This is because the chemicals and toxins contained in cigarettes affect the ovaries of the developing fetus in the womb, leading to what might be “unexplained” fertility of the child when she becomes of childbearing age.
Smoking and fertility – help reverse the damage
As always, prevention is best. If you don’t smoke, don’t start. If those around you smoke, be sure to avoid them while they are smoking. Second hand smoke is still smoke and can negatively affect your ability to get pregnant, stay pregnant, as well as harm your developing baby.
If you are already a smoker, and are trying to conceive it is imperative that you stop smoking as soon as possible. There are many strategies, programs, and even supplements that will help you break physical dependency on the nicotine and restore health and balance to your body.
Vitamins and Minerals
Deficiencies in vitamins, minerals, and amino acids can make someone more susceptible to addiction, and addiction itself can create severe imbalances and deficiencies in the body. Ensuring that you and your partner are focusing on a diet rich in whole foods, free of refined foods, especially grains and sugars. Supplementing is appropriate when there are severe deficiencies identified. Supplements should be be in the form of herbs and whole foods.
- During and after you quit try going dairy free for some time to help clear the lungs of any excess mucus.
- Herbs like mullein can help calm inflammation and loosens phlegm while marshmallow root may soothe irritation.
- Antioxidants are nutrients that fight the free radicals and oxidation caused by smoking, so make sure to eat plenty of colorful vegetables and fruits. Supplements like Vitamin C (Smokers need two to three times the daily requirement of vitamin C just to maintain normal levels in their bodies.) and Vitamin E are powerful antioxidants that may be beneficial as well.
Mind, Body, and Emotions
More often than not addiction results from a stressful situation, a traumatic event, and/or big, hard feelings. To remove an addictive substance without working on the reason for the addiction often leads to replacement addictions (eg: replacing a food addiction with an exercising addiction). Maybe you started smoking because of stress during a hard situation. Being able to talk through and process the experiences you lived through, while learning new stress coping skills, can help ensure you that once you quit you won’t start again.
With an big change it’s best to enlist help and support. Consider talking to your doctor, natural health practitioner, loved ones, and friends about how they can help and support you through as you kick the habit.