Study link smoking with decreased fertility

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A recent study shows smoking while undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF), can impact a woman’s chance of a successful pregnancy.

The study looked at more than twelve thousand cycles using assisted reproductive technology.

Researchers learned women who smoked while undergoing IVF were less likely to have the procedure result in a successful pregnancy than women who were non-smokers.

Rebecca Flyckt, M.D., of Cleveland Clinic, did not take part in the study, but said smoking definitely has an impact on fertility.

“We know that smoking can actually affect the hormone environment and the eggs in our ovaries,” she said. “Women who smoke have an earlier time to menopause, and run out of eggs faster than women who don’t smoke.” 

Dr. Flyckt said when women smoke, it typically takes them longer to get pregnant.

“Smokers have a higher risk of infertility, and they have a higher risk of needing fertility treatments because of all the effects of cigarettes on the ovary and ovarian function,” said Dr. Flyckt.

In addition to having an unsuccessful IVF procedure, Dr. Flyckt said previous research shows smoking while undergoing IVF can increase the risk of a tubal or ectopic pregnancy, or even increase the chance that the pregnancy could end in miscarriage.

When couples are at the point where they are ready to try assisted reproductive technology, Dr. Flyckt believes it’s in their best interest to make sure they are taking the proper steps to increase their chances of a successful pregnancy. 

“Once couples get to IVF, they’re investing thousands of dollars to get the best possible chance of having a baby,” she said. “I think any couple thinking about this study should know that smoking can really reduce that chance.” 

Complete results of the study can be found in the Journal of Women’s Health.

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