Smoking is injurious to health. We all know about this and that is why ‘World No Tobacco Day’ is observed on May 31 – to make people aware of the harmful effects of tobacco on health. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), around 8 million people die as a result of tobacco use every year. Smoking tobacco not only results in lung diseases and other respiratory disorders but it also affects a future child’s health. It has a direct link to decreased sperm count in men and pregnancy complications in women.
Men who smoke regularly can have problems getting and keeping erections. It also causes significant damage to semen and sperm, says Dr Salaah Qureshi, MD, Internal Medicine, AXIS Hospital.
“It causes a significantly reduced motility of the sperm in the semen. Besides, those who are long-term smokers, they tend to have a reduced sperm number count. Smokers also have reduced semen volume. Abnormal sperm shape and significantly reduced sperm viability can happen due to smoking, which affects reproductive function adversely. There were also higher DNA fragmentation rates in smokers, which results in lower quality of sperm,” Dr Salaah Qureshi told Health Wire.
According to Dr Amitkumar Shah, DNB Medicine, Consultant Physician at AXIS Hospital, smokers have significantly lower semen variables and significantly higher levels of apoptotic variables that reduce sperm count in men.
“Smoking causes damages to micro RNA which are associated with cell death and apoptosis. This leads to decrease sperm count in smoking men,” Dr. Amitkumar Shah told Health Wire.
Similarly, women who continue to smoke during pregnancy have more chances of miscarriage. Smoking increases the risk of low birth weight and having birth defects.
“Smoking during pregnancy can lead to increased complications like lower birth weight and growth retardation. It may also result in higher rates of miscarriage. Besides, it may induce a higher incidence of lung disease in children,” said Dr Salaah Qureshi.
“Due to impaired fetal oxygenation, altered fetal development and physiological response and toxin exposure, the chances of miscarriage among smoking women are increased,” explained Dr Amitkumar Shah.
Smoking decreases fertility in males as well as in females and therefore one should quit smoking at least three months before planning to conceive.