Smoking and your fertility

How smoking affects your fertility, and tips to help you give up.

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If you’re trying to conceive, you might like to think about giving up smoking.

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A study has shown quitting smoking is important for you and your partner as it may increase your chances of conception and having a healthier baby. Your smoking during your pregnancy is one of the key factors in increasing the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome or ‘cot death’).

One study showed that women who smoked and were having IVF treatment had their chances of a successful programme cut by a third. For men, smoking lowers the sperm count and reduces the number of sperm that are good swimmers (‘motile’ sperm, in technical terms)!

If you’re going to stop smoking, don’t worry about people guessing you’re trying to get pregnant or already are pregnant. Excuses like you’ll feel fitter, save money, or just smell nicer are perfectly valid!

Tips to help you stop smoking

• Choose a day to stop and stick to it. When the day comes, throw away all cigarettes, ashtrays and lighters in your home, car and workplace. Plan a reward for yourself at the end of your first day.

• Try nicotine gum or patches. These can ease the withdrawal symptoms. Your GP can provide you with advice on this along with info leaflets and helpline numbers.

• Join a support group with a trained smoking counselor, where you can share problems and tips with others.

• Stay busy. If you feel the urge to smoke, distract yourself by concentrating on something else, take the dog for a walk, or do some light exercise.

• Change your routine. This helps you avoid situations that trigger a desire to smoke. If you like to smoke after breakfast, then eat in a different café or a different room in your house. If stress triggers your need for a cigarette, take a bath or going for a walk to reduce the tension.  If you like a cigarette after you’ve had a drink of alcohol, avoid meeting friends at the pub for a few weeks.

• Make your home a smoke-free environment. You could also ask your family, friends and colleagues to support you by not smoking around you.

• Substitute a cigarette for something else. Try chewing gum or a small healthy snack. If you need to do something with your hands, find a pencil to play with.

• Think of the benefits. Make a list of what you’ll gain by not smoking: less coughing, cleaner clothes, improved health and breathing. Save the money you would have spent on cigarettes for a reward.

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• Congratulate yourself each day.

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