Can smoking hurt your sperm? Yes, it can also negatively affect your male fertility. You already know that smoking is bad for your health, and you have likely guessed that smoking is bad for male fertility. However, things like having difficulty with ejaculating or erectile dysfunction can also be signs of infertility. In men, smoking has been linked to an increased risk for many cancers, heart disease, emphysema, and a number of other health problems.
The toxins in cigarettes take their toll not only on the lungs but also on the health of your entire body. This also includes your reproductive system. But how does smoking affect sperm quality? Let’s find out.
Studies on male smoking have shown a decrease in the quality of semen. How does smoking affect sperm and male fertility? Men who smoke have decreased sperm concentration, decreased motility, fewer normally shaped sperm, and increased sperm DNA damage.
Sperm concentration refers to the number of sperm found in a measured quantity of semen. Studies have shown a 23% decrease in sperm concentration in men who smoke.
Sperm motility refers to the swimming capabilities of the sperm. If sperm cannot swim properly, they may have trouble reaching the egg and fertilising it. In men who smoke, researchers fund a 13% decrease in sperm motility.
Sperm morphology refers to the shape of sperm. Oddly shaped sperm may not swim well enough to get to the egg and may not be able to fertilise an egg. Male smokers have fewer healthy shaped sperm than non-smokers.
Some studies have found that the sperm of smokers has increased DNA fragmentation. DNA damaged sperm may lead to problems with fertilisation, embryo development, embryo implantation, and increased miscarriage rates. Male smokers may also have abnormal hormone levels, which can affect fertility.
Now on to answering the important question, does smoking have a direct effect on male infertility? The decreases in sperm health and abnormal hormone levels may not be enough to cause infertility in men. At least, not in isolation. Reduced semen health doesn’t always mean infertility. Studies connecting smoking directly to pregnancy rates and male infertility are contradictory or unclear. For men who are already on the borderline of infertility, smoking may be enough to push them over the edge into infertility.
There are other signs of infertility, such as erectile dysfunction, testicle pain or swelling, or changes in sexual desire, in this case you should get your semen checked. If your semen analysis results come back on the border of infertility, quitting smoking may improve your fertility enough to not need additional fertility treatment. At the very least, dropping the habit may improve your chances of fertility treatment success.