The Effects of Cigarette Smoking on Male Fertility

March 7, 2020

smoking and male infertility

Dr. Vipin Chandra, Gynaecologist & IVF Specialist at Indira IVF on March 07, 2020

Cigarette smoking is one of the principal sources of preventable morbidity as well as mortality, has numerous adverse side effects. The connection between smoking cigarettes and sterility is researched for decades, but sizeable; population preliminary scientific studies are insufficient. Most of the present research is in the shape of past scientific studies highlighting the repercussion of cigarette smoking on semen analysis.

The side effects of cigarette smoking on assisted reproduction as well as IVF results are documented. The outcome of cigarette smoking while being expectant on fertility and the consequences of passive smoking are collated. The present proof demonstrates that men must be wise to avoid smoking cigarettes to enhance reproductive outcomes.

It is evaluated that around 33% of men worldwide smoke tobacco products. In India, The absolute numbers of men smoking any type of tobacco at ages 15–69 years rose by about 29 million or 36% in relative terms from 79 million in 1998 to 108 million in 2015. This represents an average increase of about 1.7 million male smokers every year. Smoking cigarettes is connected to a plethora of unfavorable health conditions such as heart disease, lung ailment as well as melanoma of the lungs, kidney, cervix, larynx, bladder, pancreas and stomach. Many scientific researchers have explored the connection between smoking and infertility.

The ASRM or the American Society for Reproductive Medicine specifies infertility as the inability to attain maternity following one year of perennial, unprotected sexual copulation. It was found that around fifteen percent of all partners trying to have babies face sterility. Even though around 50% of all instances of sterility are caused due to the female component, the male component is the secluded factor in nearly thirty percent of partners. Also, in twenty percent of infertile partners have got a blend of both man and woman elements. Hence, sterility due to man element plays an essential part in half of all partners who have infertility.

Semen Analysis and Cigarette Smoking

Cigarette smoking hurts the varied characteristics of semen evaluation. An evaluation carried out on 2542 fertile males from the year 1987 to 2004 by Ramlau and Hansen discovered that tobacco smokers had low semen quantities, sperm numbers, including the percentage of motile sperm when compared with adult males who do not smoke at all. Moreover, it was noted that the connection between cigarette smoking and sperm concentration was dependent on dose. It was found that adult males who smoked more than 20 cigarettes per day had a 19% diminution in sperm concentration when compared with non-smokers, even when controlling factors like age, fever, including the time of celibacy and infection in sexual organs. Hence, it was summarized that smoking and infertility led to damage to semen parameters condescendingly.

Merino and colleagues, who studied 358 Mexican men stratified into 3 categories based on the number of cigarettes smoked per day, also confirmed this type of dose dependency. The authors confirmed the effects of smoking on reduced sperm density and abnormal morphology, but also extended these findings to note that men who smoked < 10 cigarettes per day experienced significant changes in their semen analysis parameters. Therefore, even light smokers appeared to be at risk for adverse effects on fertility.

How smoking affects male fertility

Some scientific researchers have tried to shed light on the topic of how smoking cigarettes can influence male fertility with reasonable clarifications for the visible connection between smoking cigarettes and abnormal semen parameters. In a scientific study of around 147 Chinese males, Liu scrutinized the association between seminal zinc levels as well as semen characteristics. The researchers discovered that cigarette smokers had low seminal zinc levels than non-smokers, along with a reduction in sperm concentration levels, motility, as well as anatomy. Interestingly, cigarette smokers with normal seminal zinc levels did not encounter the same level of irregular semen characteristics similar to those cigarette smokers who have reduced seminal zinc levels, reasoning that zinc levels could play a vital role.

There is also proof to show us that the unfavorable repercussion of cigarette smoking might not be attributable uniquely to the virulence found in smoke. A recent scientific study analyzing the side effects of oral nicotine(found in tobacco) on male rats discovered that exposure to oral nicotine caused a substantial reduction in sperm motility as well as sperm count. Hence, nicotine might also have a significant role in the harmful effects of cigarette smoking on fertility. Interestingly, semen quality diminished by oral tobacco intake was reversed, succeeding one month of discontinuance, suggesting an element of changeability to these side effects. Moreover, scientific research of 210 males with elevated cotinine (tobacco byproduct) levels in the seminal plasma also had an increased percentage of irregular sperm morphology. These types of findings further support the reasoning that nicotine itself might be a feasible driver of the adverse effects of cigarette smoking on fertility. More scientific research is required to find the exact role of tobacco in the pathogenesis of abnormal semen analysis as well as morphology transformations.

Smoking and Assisted Reproduction

Cigarette smoking has an adverse consequence on male semen value; it might also diminish the result of ART or assisted reproduction techniques, like IVF- in vitro fertilization, including ICSI– intracytoplasmic sperm injection.

Parental cigarette smoking is found to impart diminished in vitro fertilization results. A scientific study of 166 partners going through ART or assisted reproduction techniques displayed that partners wherein the male spouse smoked cigarettes had a noticeably or in vitro fertilization low LBR or live birth rate with intracytoplasmic sperm injection (7.8% versus 21.1% in non-smoking adult males).


There is a body of evidence to demonstrate the detrimental effect of smoking on semen parameters. The male partner in any infertile couple should stop smoking and adopt a healthy lifestyle to have a better chance at conceiving be it naturally or through assisted reproductive techniques

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