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Facts #2: Smoking Kills Sperm, Causes Infertility In Men

Can smoking hurt a man’s sperm and his overall fertility? Yes!

The fact that smoking is bad for your health cannot be overstated, especially when considering the numerous studies linking it to an increased risk for cancer, heart disease, emphysema, and a number of other health problems.

The harmful toxins in cigarettes not only impact the lungs, but they also take a toll on the entire body, including the reproductive system. They can even affect the fertility of your spouse and pose a serious health risk to your future children.

A 2016 meta-analysis on the effect of smoking on semen health found that smoking was associated with decreased sperm count, decreased sperm motility, and poor sperm morphology.

Carried out by European Urology, the analysis, which included 20 studies and just over 5,000 men across Europe, adds to a growing list of studies that show that men who smoke are less fertile than men who don’t smoke.

How Does Smoking Affect Sperm, Semen Quality?

Semen racing to egg

Smoking affects the shape, count, and swimming ability of sperm.

Numerous studies on male smoking have shown a decrease in the quality of semen. As noted earlier, men who smoke have poorer sperm concentration, decreased motility, more deformed sperm cells, and increased sperm DNA damage.

Sperm concentration (sperm count) refers to the number of sperm found in a measured quantity of semen, the fluid that carries sperm. According to studies, men who smoke have a 23 percent decrease in sperm count when compared to non-smokers.

Sperm motility refers to the capacity of sperm to swim in the seminal fluid, so poor swimming capabilities makes it difficult for sperm to reach the egg and fertilize it. Researchers found a 13 percent decrease in sperm motility in men who smoke,

Sperm morphology refers to the shape of sperm. As you can imagine, misshapen sperm may not swim well enough to get to the egg and — should they manage to reach one — may not be able to fertilize it . Male smokers have more oddly-shaped sperm than non-smokers, who exhibit a larger count of healthy sperm.

Finally, some studies have found increased DNA fragmentation in the sperm of smokers, which may lead to problems with fertilization, embryo development, embryo implantation, and increased miscarriage rates.

Does Male Smoking Actually Cause Male Infertility?

Man Talking to Woman Doctor

Smoking may be what pushes men at risk of infertility over the edge into infertility.

It’s easy to see how a decrease in sperm concentration, poor swimming sperm, and deformed sperm, DNA-damaged sperm can cause male infertility, but things are not that clear-cut.

Although there is a strong connection, reduced semen health doesn’t necessarily translate to infertility, and studies connecting smoking directly to male infertility and pregnancy are unclear. However, for men who are already at risk of infertility, smoking may be what pushes them over the edge into infertility.

Get your semen checked, and if the results come back on the border of infertility, quit smoking! At best, dropping the habit will improve your fertility enough to not need additional fertility treatment; at worse, it may help improve the efficacy of fertility treatment should you need it.

Just quit smoking, man. Not only is it killing you, but it might also be killing your family, friends, and anyone else exposed to your smoking.

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Why Exactly Does Smoking Harm Male Fertility?

cigarette risks

The high level of toxins found in cigarettes are usually blamed for the bad health effects.

Studies frequently blame the high level of toxins found in cigarettes for bad health effects, toxins such as cadmium and lead that have been linked to decreased fertility. Infertile smokers were found to have significantly higher lead levels when compared to both fertile and infertile non-smokers, while men who smoke 20 or more cigarettes per day (heavy smokers) were found to have higher levels of cadmium in their semen.

Exposure to high levels of these toxins may not be the only factor at play. One study found that male smokers with lower zinc levels in their semen also had poor sperm concentration, shape, and movement. Interestingly, smokers with normal semen zinc levels didn’t fare much better — there were still issues with sperm concentration, motility, and morphology, but they had lower degree of sperm abnormality

Does Smoking Impact Fertility Of Your Children?

Baby hand in Dada's Hand

There is an increased risk of birth defects and cancer in children of male smokers.

If a man smokes, will his smoking affect the infertility for his future child? Although researchers haven’t found a connection between decreased fertility in children on male smokers, they did find an increased risk of birth defects and cancer. Damaged sperm DNA might have something to do with it.

In fact, one study that looked at sperm DNA of male smokers and non-smokers found that sperm from smokers had undesired DNA alterations.

Smoking Affects Fertility Of Your Woman Partner

worried woman

Smoking negatively affects the fertility of women, making it difficult for them to have a baby.

Smoking negatively affects the fertility of your woman. Females exposed to secondhand smoking have been shown to have a decrease in fertility, with one concluding that secondhand smoke reduced the number of eggs retrieved in an in vitro fertilization (IVF) cycle by 46 percent.

If you have to smoke, do so away from your woman partner so as not to negatively affect her fertility. Better yet, do everyone, including yourself, a favour and just quit smoking altogether. .

Does Smoking Cause Erectile Dysfunction?

Man Woman Erectile Dysfunction

Studies have shown a three-fold increase in the risk of erectile dysfunction for male smokers.

There is a strong correlation between smoking and an increased risk of erectile dysfunction, with some studies showing a three-fold increase in risk for male smokers. The more a man smokes, the more likely it is that he’ll suffer from erectile dysfunction.

It’s important to note that erectile dysfunction and infertility are not the same, seeing as it’s possible to have problems having an erection but still have healthy sperm. However, if sexual performance is difficult, getting pregnant will be more difficult. Fortunately, quitting smoking does seem to improve sexual performance.

How Long After Quitting Smoking Will Sperm Improve?

Quit Smoking - man breaking cigarette

Waiting three months after quitting to properly assess the impact on sperm health makes sense.

There are no specific studies looking at how long it takes for sperm to improve after quitting smoking, but the fact that sperm cells reach maturity in approximately three months might give us an idea. Waiting at least three months after quitting to properly assess the impact on your sperm health makes sense.

As for erectile dysfunction, one study found over 50 percent of subjects reported improved sexual performance after six months of smoking cessation.

To All Smokers, Quit Smoking To Feel Your Prime

“Feel your prime” is one of the cornertones of the Too Manly lifestyle. It entails a man’s commitment to conditioning his mind, body and spirit to optimal levels so that he feels his best anytime, anywhere.

Smoking is a health hazard of the highest order. Not only is it killing you, but it may also be killing your family, friends, and anyone else exposed to your dangerous habit. If you are a smoker, act Too Manly by quitting smoking. You will be happy you did.

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Written By

Kwame Owusu is a personal development coach and the founder of Too Manly. He holds an MBA from a top business school and is committed to helping men all around the world look, feel and live the prime of their life.

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