How smoking affects your reproductive health

Women who smoke may experience irregular periods, heavier bleeding, and more painful cramps.

In Summary

• Furthermore, the negative effects of smoking on fertility are cumulative.

• The longer a woman smokes, the greater her risk of infertility.

A smoker puffs at a cigarette.
HEALTH RISK: A smoker puffs at a cigarette.

Smoking can have significant negative effects on a woman's reproductive health, and quitting the habit can help improve fertility and reduce the risk of smoke-related health issues.

The habit is a leading cause of preventable deaths globally due to the  numerous health risks associated with it.

For women, smoking causes many effects to the reproductive health such as  decreased fertility, pregnancy complications and increased risk of certain cancers.



Women who smoke have decreased levels of estrogen - a hormone necessary for ovulation and the development of the egg.

Smoking damages the DNA in eggs, leading to chromosomal abnormalities that can prevent fertilisation or cause miscarriages.

Smoking can accelerate the loss of eggs in a woman's ovaries and decrease their ovarian function, leading to early menopause.

Statistics show that women who smoke have a 30 per cent  higher risk of infertility compared to non-smokers.

Furthermore, the negative effects of smoking on fertility are cumulative.

The longer a woman smokes, the greater her risk of infertility.

Thus, smoking can decrease a woman's chances of getting pregnant. 


When  pregnant, smoking can have detrimental effects on both the mother and the developing foetus.

Smoking increases the risk of preterm birth, low birth weight and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

It can also cause placental abnormalities, which can lead to foetal growth restrictions and other complications.

Babies born to women who smoke are also more likely to have respiratory problems such as asthma and chronic cough.

The habit also increases the risk of ectopic pregnancy, a potentially life-threatening condition where the fertilised egg implants outside the uterus.

Women who smoke during pregnancy also have a higher risk of miscarriage and stillbirth. 

Cervical cancer

Smoking is also a significant risk factor for cervical cancer in women. 

This is because the chemicals in tobacco smoke can damage the DNA in cervical cells, leading to abnormal cell growth and the development of cancer.

Women who smoke are twice more likely to develop cervical cancer compared to non-smokers.

Additionally, the habit can increase the risk of other gynaecological cancers such as ovarian and endometrial cancers.


Smoking can also affect a woman's menstrual cycle. Women who smoke may experience irregular periods, heavier bleeding and more painful cramps. 

Smoking also has the potential to exacerbate symptoms of premenstrual syndrome, such as mood swings, headaches and bloating.

Infertility treatment complications

Smoking can decrease the success rate of fertility treatments such as in vitro fertilisation (IVF) while also increasing the risk of complications during pregnancy. 

The habit can also reduce the effectiveness of  some forms of contraception such as birth control pills.

Reduced bone density

Smoking can lead to reduced bone density, which can increase the risk of osteoporosis.

Osteoporosis is a health disorder in which the bones become brittle and fragile from loss of tissue.

It is normally as a result of hormonal changes, or deficiency of calcium or vitamin D in the body. 

In conclusion, smoking can have a significant impact on a woman's reproductive health.

It can decrease fertility, increase the risk of pregnancy complications and contribute to the development of certain cancers.

Healthcare providers can provide resources and support to help women quit smoking, including nicotine replacement therapy, counselling and medication.

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