Study Shows Link Between Smoking During Pregnancy and Future Infertility for Male Offspring

Many of the negative effects of cigarette smoking have been well publicized in the national media and within the medical field. A new study conducted by researchers at the University of Newcastle in Australia and published in the scholarly journal Human Reproduction, however, indicates that smoking during pregnancy could affect the fertility of male children. The study examined the effects of prenatal exposure to cigarette smoke in laboratory mice by delivering the equivalent of 24 cigarettes per day to pregnant females. Researchers found that the male pups born to smoke-exposed mice suffered reduced sperm counts and damaged sperm that could significantly affect their ability to reproduce. Austin male fertility specialist Dr. Parviz Kavoussi shared his thoughts on these findings, and here is what he had to say on the subject.

Reinforcing Earlier Warnings about Smoking

“The damaging effects of cigarette smoke on the human body are well established,” Dr. Kavoussi told us. “This new study simply reinforces and adds to the many reasons not to smoke during pregnancy. For men, it may be even more critical to avoid smoking during the lead-up to conception. Smoking can cause serious fertility issues for men that include DNA damage to sperm, lower sperm counts and decreased motility, which is the ability of sperm to propel themselves effectively. Each of these factors can have a significant effect on the ability of couples to conceive. To make matters worse, tobacco use can cause other physical problems that can further reduce the chance of achieving a successful pregnancy.”


Even More Damaging than Previously Thought

“A number of studies have already demonstrated the dangerous effects of cigarette smoking for men’s fertility,” Dr. Kavoussi went on to say. “Researchers have found the toxins present in cigarette smoke in the semen of smokers. This indicates that these chemical compounds travel from the lungs into the bloodstream and then to the reproductive organs, causing damage at every stage of this journey. With the information provided by this latest study, we can see that the negative effects of smoking can travel between mother and unborn son during pregnancy to cause problems for future generations.”


Smoking Cessation Can Improve Fertility 

“We often see couples who have been trying to conceive with no success for several years,” Dr. Kavoussi stated. “By embarking on a smoking cessation plan, men can improve their sperm count parameters. Low sperm counts are one of the most common reasons for male infertility. Couples who quit smoking together can often increase their chances of conceiving and delivering a healthy baby. It is my professional view that couples trying to conceive should eliminate tobacco use as a positive first step toward improved health and greater fertility.”


Many Factors Can Affect Male Fertility

Smoking is just one of many factors that can contribute to male infertility. Excessive use of alcohol or illegal drugs can negatively impact sperm counts and can sometimes have lasting effects on the health of the reproductive organs. Exposure to industrial chemical compounds or heavy metals can also cause male infertility over time. Obesity has been linked to hormonal fluctuations that can reduce the ability of couples to conceive successfully. Working with a professional reproductive urologist can provide added help in pinpointing the causes of male infertility and achieving a healthy pregnancy and a new addition to the family.