During the last decade, women surpassed men to make up the greater percentage of smokers worldwide. More than 9 out of 10 women start smoking in their teens, which means they suffer a long exposure to cigarette smoke by the time they first try to conceive (typically at age 30 or older). There’s an abundance of research showing that cigarette smoke affects female fertility, resulting in a sharp reduction in overall fertile capacity plus longer time to conception. Smoking also leads to early menopause.
Cigarette smoke is loaded with toxins and heavy metals. These build up in the ovaries and uterus. Recent studies demonstrate that both active smoking and passive (second hand) smoking, reduces levels of the sex hormones needed for normal ovary function. Smoking not only leads to higher risk of infertility and longer time to conception, it also lowers success of in vitro fertilization. If a smoker does conceive, she has increased risk of pregnancy loss.
The good news is, research has established that quitting smoking can reverse the fertility-related effects of cigarette smoke over time. Participants in one recent study who stopped smoking reduced their risk of infertility within just 3 to 6 months of quitting.