Find out all you need to know about how smoking will affect your chances of conceiving.
When you decide to start trying for a baby you'll want to give yourself the best chance possible of conceiving. Eating a healthy diet
and getting plenty of exercise
are great things to do to in order to boost your general health and fertility at this time. However if you are a smoker, changing this part of your lifestyle may not be so easy.
Research has shown that smoking may have an effect on your chances of getting pregnant, and yet it is one of the hardest things to give up. Remember too that if your partner smokes, this may also affect your chances of conceiving.
How will smoking affect my fertility?
Even if you only smoke every now and then, doing so while trying for a baby may reduce your chances of conceiving. This is because the nicotine that is taken into your system through cigarettes can reduce the amount of oestrogen your body produces - an essential hormone that will aid conception and successful implantation of an embryo into the uterus.
Smoking can also affect your eggs while they are in your ovaries, reducing the number that are able to successfully pass down your fallopian tubes ready for fertilisation. Once you conceive, smoking can also affect the chance that your embryo will be able to form an attachment to your uterus.
What's more if you do fall pregnant without giving up smoking, and continue to smoke throughout your pregnancy, research has shown that you may also affect the health of your baby while he or she is in the womb.
You should also remember that not only does smoking impact your chance of conceiving in this way, it is also likely to have a negative effect on your general health and wellbeing.
How will smoking affect my partner's fertility?
Don't forget that your partner's fertility is just as important as yours when you are trying to get pregnant. Smoking can have an effect on his fertility by potentially lowering his sperm count, and making his sperm lose motility - which means they won't be able to move as quickly or spontaneously.
A healthy sperm count is essential for conception, so this is just another way smoking could lessen your chances of getting pregnant.
If you don't smoke and your partner does, just breathing in the second-hand smoke can affect your fertility. Also if you both smoke but you are trying to quit, it will be harder for you to kick the habit if your partner is smoking around you.
What shall I do?
The best thing you can do to maximise your fertility as a couple is for you and your partner to give up smoking altogether. Of course this is easier said than done, but there is help out there.
You might want to try out nicotine replacement therapy such as gum or patches, as these can help to ease withdrawal symptoms. Joining a support group and talking to like-minded people trying to give up could also be extremely worthwhile, as you'll be able to share your experiences and benefit from advice from those who are trying to quit too.
There is plenty of help available from the NHS
if you are struggling to quit, and you can call the NHS Stop Smoking helpline on 0800 022 4 332 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 0800 022 4 332 end_of_the_skype_highlighting. It might also be worthwhile going to see your GP, who can give you practical advice on quitting smoking.
It might help to give yourself a small treat or reward for every day that you don't smoke, which will remind you that you are making progress. Quitting smoking will be the best thing for your own and your baby's health when you do conceive, so this is a good thing to keep in mind when quitting seems impossible to do.
Are you trying to quit smoking but could do with some helpful encouragement and advice? Or perhaps you have already quit and want to share your experiences with others trying to conceive? Visit the AskBaby Forums to share your thoughts and tips for quitting, or just for a chat.