If you are starting to think about having a baby, you should think about quitting smoking first. It doesn’t matter if you are a man or a woman – if you smoke or are exposed to smoke, then your chances of having a mini-me are reduced.1
The fact of the matter is, smokers take longer to conceive than non-smokers and are more likely to have fertility issues.1 So, the sooner you (and your partner, if you have one) quit, the better it will be for you, and your soon-to-be baby2. So, let’s look at all the benefits you can expect when you go smoke-free.
Men. Otherwise known as Dad.
Think it’s only women who need to quit when they want to have a baby? Smoking impacts men’s fertility too.1
Your little swimmers
Smoking reduces your sperm quality, lowers your sperm count and reduces sperm movement.3 The effects go even further than that: smoking damages the DNA of your sperm, and can cause health problems for your child.1,3
But don’t worry, sperm take 3 months to develop. This means that the most important time to improve your health and quit smoking is in the 3 months leading up to conception.1
Smoking can cause erectile dysfunction, and the chances of you experiencing it increase the longer you smoke and the more cigarettes you smoke.4,5 It might be uncomfortable to talk about, but it’s true. Compared with a non-smoker, you are 24% more likely to have a problem in the bedroom if you smoke up to 20 cigarettes a day. If you smoke more than 20 cigarettes a day, this goes up to 39%.4
Cancer in your privates
It’s not very nice to think about, and you don’t hear about it often, but smoking is the most significant lifestyle factor associated with penile cancer.6 Chemicals found in cigarettes can damage cells in the penis, which increases your risk.6
That’s enough to make you think about going smoke-free this very instant.
Women. Otherwise known as Mum.
We all know that smoking affects the baby, but what isn’t so widely known is how it affects your chances of having a baby at all. And it’s not just your own smoking that hurts – passive smoking is almost as bad for you and your fertility as smoking yourself.1 So if you smoke or have a partner who smokes, now’s the time to take action.
You’re more likely to conceive naturally, and without delay, when you quit.2 Smoking can cause infertility in both first-time mothers to be and experienced mums. It can also reduce your chances of success if you need to go down the IVF (In vitro fertilisation) path.7 That’s not all, if you do manage to conceive, smoking increases your risk of an ectopic pregnancy and miscarriage.1
You can get back on track though. Your natural fertility could be improved by stopping smoking and some of the effects of smoking could be reversed after a year of going smoke-free.1
Bringing on menopause
Women who smoke go through menopause approximately 2 years earlier than non-smokers.8 The risk of early menopause increases with the number of cigarettes you smoke.9
Cancer down there
Smoking is one of the key risk factors for cervical cancer, and it also increases your risk of vulval cancer.10,11
Quitting is hard, and it’s certainly harder to do it alone. So, if you have a partner and want to have a baby together, you should try and quit together too. Not only will it be easier, but you’ll know that you are doing it for a good reason – the health and happiness of your own little one.1
You're up to 4x more likely to succeed in quitting with the help of a healthcare professional compared to quitting unaided.12 So, see your doctor for help and encourage your partner to do the same. Quitting together means you can support one another through the process.
When two becomes three.
Don’t forget, children are for life, and so is your commitment to being smoke-free. It doesn’t just stop when you conceive. Smoking during pregnancy can significantly harm the development of your baby, from their brain to their lungs, and can cause problems even in the years to come, such as increasing their risk of asthma or obesity in childhood.13
Not only that, as your child grows up, they will look up to you and learn from you. You will be their chief role model. So, teach them healthy habits from the start and quit smoking before your little one is even on the way.
If you're planning on becoming a Dad or a Mum, the sooner you quit, the better. You’ll be glad you did it when you’re holding a healthy baby in your arms.