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Misconception: Quit Smoking Later

FACT: There’s no such thing as a reproductive grace period when it comes to smoking. If you’re hoping to become pregnant in the near future, the time to butt out is before you start trying to conceive. Research has shown that couples are less likely to become pregnant in any given cycle if one or both partners smoke. That means more cycles of trying for couples who smoke than couples who don’t.

Cigarette smoke is bad news, whether you’re female or male. Not only can it affect the health of the egg and the quality and quantity of sperm; smoking can also bring on early menopause (by a couple of years) in the female partner. The news is even worse for anyone with a history of fertility problems, which is why The American Society for Reproductive Medicine recommends in its Fact Sheet on Smoking and Infertility that both partners quit smoking if they have experienced reproductive difficulties in the past: “The best available scientific data indicates that cigarette smoking strongly contributes to infertility. Smoking cessation may improve natural fertility and success rates with infertility treatment.”

And if you’re still smoking when you do get pregnant, the risks become even more dire. According to preconception health specialist Arlene Cullum, MPH, director of women’s and children’s and ambulatory services at Sutter Medical Center in Sacramento, California, exposure to cigarette smoke increases the odds of both miscarriage and ectopic pregnancy, premature birth, low birth weight babies, and babies who succumb to SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).

No one says it will be easy, but you do have the power to quit. “There are certain things about your body and your health you can’t control, but smoking is something that is within your power to change,” says Cullum. For help with kicking your smoking habit, check out www.smokefree.gov or www.gosmokefree.ca.

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