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New research: Smoking doesn’t discriminate when it comes to fertility

Posted 23 May, 2016

New research has confirmed that smoking is strongly linked to infertility for both parents – not just the mother.1

To highlight this link, Quit Victoria and Your Fertility have joined forces to equip prospective parents with need-to-know information on smoking, fertility and their health.

In doing so, Quit and Your Fertility have developed a new interactive online tool outlining the benefits of quitting smoking before, during and after pregnancy. A suite of videos featuring fertility and quitting experts can also help prospective parents gather all the information they need to have healthy babies.

Victorian Assisted Reproductive Treatment Authority (VARTA) chief executive and Your Fertility spokesperson, Louise Johnson, said that while people generally know smoking is bad for their health, they are often unaware of the consequences it could have on their fertility and on the long-term health of their children.

“Both male and female smokers are more likely to have fertility problems,” Ms Johnson said. “Women are also likely to have fertility problems if they are exposed to other people’s smoke.” 2

“We also know that people who smoke – or women who are exposed to other people’s smoke – take longer to conceive.” 3

New research has revealed that men who are moderate to heavy smokers have lower sperm counts, poorer sperm movement, and more irregularly-shaped sperm than non-smokers4– drastically reducing their fertility.

Fertility specialist Dr Raelia Lew said it is a common misconception that fertility problems were due to smoking only by the female partner.

“Not only can smoking damage the DNA in a woman’s eggs, but it can also affect DNA in sperm.4 This can have health implications for children from birth into adulthood,” Dr Lew said.

“Fortunately, the damage to men’s sperm can be reversed within three months of quitting – as that is how long it takes new sperm to develop.”

Quit Victoria Director Dr Sarah White said for couples who smoke and are planning to have a baby, it can be a great time to tackle their smoking together.

“The good news is that both prospective parents can improve their natural fertility and reverse some of the effects of smoking,” Dr White said.

“Additionally, quitting also provides financial benefits. After a year of quitting the average pack a day smoker could have saved $7600 - double that if both partners quit! That’s a substantial amount of money that could be put toward essentials for the baby.”

Dr White also said there has never been a better time to quit, with support available from the Quitline (13 7848) which can double your chances of quitting successfully.

“Plus we know that when couples quit together it increases their chances of quitting and is a great way to start their journey into parenthood,” said Dr White.

For more information visit and or call the Quitline (13 7848) for personalised advice and support.

1 Sharma R, Harlev A, Agarwal A, and Esteves SC. Cigarette smoking and semen quality: A new meta-analysis examining the effect of the 2010 world health organization laboratory methods for the examination of human semen Eur Urol, 2016. Available from:
2 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (US); National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (US); Office on Smoking and Health (US), How tobacco smoke causes disease: the biology and behavioral basis for smoking-attributable disease : a report of the Surgeon General, 2010, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (US) Atlanta, GA.
3 Hull, M.G.R., et al., Delayed conception and active and passive smoking. Fertility and Sterility, 2000. 74(4): p. 725-733.
4 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (US); Hull, M.G.R., et al.,


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