Smoking And Male Fertility
Smoking and passive smoking are not just dangerous during pregnancy; they can also negatively affect a couple's chances of conceiving in the first place. Both men and women smokers run the risk of reduced fertility and perhaps even of producing a baby with health problems. If you have been having difficulties getting pregnant, you need to know that it's not just the female partner who needs to make diet and lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking. The effects of the nasty chemicals in cigarette smoke on a man's sperm and libido could also be at the root of your problems.
The Impact On Male Fertility
Research has found that smoking has the potential to damage a man's fertility in three areas: the quality of his sperm, his ability to have sexual intercourse and his libido (or sex drive).
Sperm - Studies have found that smoking men are more likely to produce sperm that has not been properly formed and is generally of a poorer quality than the sperm of non-smokers. They have also found signs of DNA or chromosome damage in smokers' sperm. Furthermore, nicotine releases secondary products in the body that have been found to reduce the mobility of sperm, meaning that a smoker's sperm may be at a disadvantage when it comes to swimming to meet his partner's ovum, and that she has a smaller chance of getting pregnant.
Impotence - the chemicals introduced into the body by cigarettes are known to block arteries and therefore restrict blood flow. This is one reason why smoking is associated with heart disease and stroke, among a range of other potentially fatal illnesses. Arteries to the penis can also become blocked, making it increasingly difficulty for blood to reach the penis when a man is sexually aroused. As this blood is essential if a man is to have an erection and as an erection is necessary if he is to impregnate a woman, it stands to reason that if a man wants to conceive with his partner, he should consider stopping smoking completely. Admittedly, younger smokers are less likely to have trouble achieving an erection than older smoking men, but sooner or later, all male smokers who don't give up are running the risk of some degree of impotency.
Sex drive - research has shown that smoking reduces a man's desire for sex, which is obviously bad news if he and his partner are trying to get pregnant. Carbon monoxide, one the chemicals found in cigarettes, has the potential to reduce a man's testosterone levels - testosterone being the hormone that influences sex drive. One study found that men between the ages of 25 and 40, who smoked one or two packs of cigarettes per day, were having less sex than non-smoking men in the same age group.
Knowing all this, a male smoker might be wary of trying to have a baby at all, but if he quits smoking right away, he won't have to wait long before the effects on his sperm will be significantly reduced. Sperm production takes approximately 90 days. Therefore, about three months after a man quits smoking, the damage to his sperm should be minimal. It's clear that any man who wants to become a father needs to think seriously about stopping smoking. Not only can quitting improve your chances, but a smoke-free environment will be healthier for your partner and future children.