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How does smoking or alcohol consumption affect fertility?

Smoking and alcohol consumption can significantly impact fertility in both men and women.

The detrimental effects of these habits on reproductive health are supported by substantial evidence, highlighting the importance of adopting healthier lifestyle choices if you are trying to conceive.

On one hand, smoking tobacco products, including cigarettes, has been linked to a range of adverse effects on fertility.

In women, smoking can lead to:

  1. Diminished Ovarian Reserve: Smoking accelerates the loss of eggs in the ovaries, reducing a woman's ovarian reserve – the number and quality of eggs available for fertilization.

  2. Altered Hormonal Balance: Smoking disrupts the delicate balance of reproductive hormones, potentially leading to irregular menstrual cycles and impaired ovulation.

  3. Higher Risk of Ectopic Pregnancy and Miscarriage: Smoking increases the risk of ectopic pregnancies (when a fertilized egg implants outside the uterus) and miscarriages due to its impact on the uterine environment.

  4. Premature Menopause: Smoking has been associated with an earlier onset of menopause, further diminishing the chances of conception.

In men, smoking can lead to:

  1. Reduced Sperm Quality: Smoking is linked to lower sperm count, decreased sperm motility, and increased levels of abnormal sperm.

  2. DNA Damage: The toxins in tobacco smoke can damage the DNA within sperm cells, potentially affecting the health of offspring and fertility.

  3. Erectile Dysfunction: Smoking can contribute to erectile dysfunction, making sexual intercourse and conception more challenging.

On the other hand, excessive alcohol consumption can also have detrimental effects on fertility.

In women, heavy alcohol intake can lead to:

  1. Irregular Menstrual Cycles: Alcohol disrupts hormonal balance, leading to irregular periods and impaired ovulation.

  2. Risk of Ovulatory Disorders: Chronic alcohol use can lead to ovulatory disorders, further affecting fertility.

  3. Higher Risk of Miscarriage: Alcohol consumption during pregnancy can increase the risk of miscarriage and birth defects.

In men, excessive alcohol consumption can lead to:

  1. Reduced Sperm Quality: Heavy alcohol intake is associated with lower sperm count and impaired sperm motility.

  2. Hormonal Imbalance: Alcohol can disrupt the balance of reproductive hormones, affecting sperm production and function.

  3. Erectile Dysfunction: Chronic alcohol use can contribute to erectile dysfunction, impacting sexual health and fertility.

Both tobacco consumption and excessive alcohol intake can profoundly impact reproductive health. Making awareness of these implications is crucial if you want to improve your fertility.


  1. Van Heertum, K., Rossi, B. Alcohol and fertility: how much is too much?. Fertil Res and Pract 3, 10 (2017).

  2. de Angelis, C., Nardone, A., Garifalos, F. et al. Smoke, alcohol and drug addiction and female fertility. Reprod Biol Endocrinol 18, 21 (2020).

  3. Bundhun, P.K., Janoo, G., Bhurtu, A. et al. Tobacco smoking and semen quality in infertile males: a systematic review and meta-analysis. BMC Public Health 19, 36 (2019).

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