Exposure to tobacco can result in several health complications and ailments. All forms of tobacco, irrespective of how they are consumed, are detrimental to health. According to a survey, roughly about 35% of the total adult population in India, including women, consumes some form of tobacco. Indeed, about 20% of women consume tobacco, often in its chewable forms.
Tobacco consumption has been linked to infertility, low sperm count, ovulation problems, and premature menopause. It also increases the risk of miscarriage and stillbirth.
Here I want to specifically talk about the effect of tobacco on reproductive health. It has been linked to infertility, low sperm count, ovulation problems, and premature menopause. It also increases the risk of miscarriage and stillbirth. In addition, it has been observed that an active tobacco user finds it more difficult to conceive even with the help of fertility treatments.
Let us look at some common impacts of tobacco consumption on reproductive health.
1. It affects fertility and sperm count
Regular tobacco consumers and smokers are more likely to experience infertility. This habit has been found to lower sperm count, cause sperm motility issues and is also a cause of erectile dysfunction. Tobacco use causes hormonal imbalances and ovulation problems in women.
2. Higher risk of miscarriage
Tobacco consumption increases the risk of miscarriage and ectopic pregnancy. Although pregnant women may think that their babies are safe if they chew rather than smoke tobacco, this is not true. The fact is that nicotine is absorbed through the mucous membranes of the mother's mouth and throat. Though this may be less dangerous than inhaling, the body still absorbs harmful elements, and so does the baby.
3. Birth complications
Exposure to tobacco poses serious risks to the growing foetus and might result in pre-term birth, low birth weight and placental abruption. Some women experience premature rupture of the amniotic sac which in turn induces early labour or placenta previa, where the growth of the placenta occurs in the lower portion of the uterus. This condition might also result in maternal haemorrhage. Exposure to smoke after birth is also linked to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
4. Impacts the umbilical cord
Smoking impairs the development of the placenta which in turn reduces the flow of oxygen and nutrients to the foetus. Lacking adequate nutrients, the baby's organs may also not mature properly, leading to health complications and even death.
It has been observed that women who stop smoking or chewing tobacco stand a greater chance at a healthy pregnancy and a normal delivery than those who don't. Tobacco consumption not only has an adverse effect on fertility but also causes irreparable damages and even death of the foetus.
Note that pregnant women who smoke find it more difficult to quit if they have a partner who smokes. Research shows that it is easier for people to stop smoking if they do it with their partner. Deciding to quit together is a great way to increase the chances of fertility and that of having a healthy baby.