Most infertile couples today find that it is not just the female partner who has fertility issues but the male partner as well. Smoking is a very common cause of male infertility. There are many reasons why men take up smoking. Many boys start under peer pressure in their early teens. Some boys are able to escape this, but most smokers that we find today started smoking very early in their teenage years.
Many men who were not exposed to smoking in their early years usually do not take up smoking. Few men start smoking in their later years due to the pressures of life in today’s world. They do this as a stress reliever and a better alternative to alcohol.
What does smoking do to the male reproductive organs?
The most common effect of smoking on a male reproductive system is the adverse effect it has on semen health. Smoking not only decreases the quality of the semen, making the sperm very weak, but it also affects the motility of the sperm and the morphology of the sperm. The motility of the sperm is its ability to swim. Sperm that are not able to swim cannot reach the female uterus for a natural conception.
Sperm morphology is the shape of the sperm. Sperm that are usually abnormally-shaped have head and tails defects. Due to this, the sperm may not be able to penetrate the egg, even if they are able to reach it, thereby reducing the chances of conception considerably. IVF procedure like ICSI runs a high risk of failure with abnormally shaped sperm.
Smoking also affects sperm DNA. Studies found that there was increased DNA fragmentation in the sperm of smokers. Sperms with damaged DNA could result in problems with fertilisation and embryo development.
Smoking lowers your libido
Your sex drive is affected when you smoke regularly. You are not inclined towards having sex. This, in itself, reduces your chances of conceiving naturally. If that is not enough, you are also at high risk for erectile dysfunction with smoking. Many males are not aware that their manhood is at stake here. They may not find it strange that the desire for sex is no longer the same. Many men even attribute it to age.
Smoking affects IVF
It is not only the health of the female partner but also that of the male partner that affects the IVF procedure. In fact, passive smoking for women is as bad as if she herself were smoking. The IVF procedure can be greatly affected by male smoking as the quality of sperm is very poor. This greatly reduces the chances of IVF success. Without being able to produce healthy sperm, you may be advised to opt for donor sperm.
Smoking increases the chances of a miscarriage
What most couples are not aware of is the fact that if the male partner smokes, it increases the risk of having a miscarriage. Damaged sperm DNA due to smoking can lead to miscarriage. The loss of a baby through a miscarriage can be devastating for expecting parents.
Sperm takes 3 months to grow. When you are planning a family, it is advisable to stop smoking at least 3 months in advance. This will help the quality of your sperm to improve. The success rate of IVF is greatly affected by sperm quality. With good healthy sperm, your chances of IVF success is improved.
Men who smoke as a stress buster need to understand that nicotine does not reduce or relieve stress. Instead, smoking causes depression besides a number of health ailments including liver damage, heart problems and male infertility.