Smoking, Drugs & Alcohol

Sometimes factors that affect fertility cannot be controlled or prevented. However, things as simple as reducing the number of cigarettes one smokes or the amount of caffeine and alcohol one consumes may improve a couple’s chance of conceiving naturally.


Smoking can affect reproduction for both women and men. Smoking is toxic to a woman’s eggs and the growing embryo, potentially leading to miscarriage. Smoking is also toxic to sperm and can lead to changes in the shape of the sperm. Smoking reduces both the chance of getting pregnant and also the success of fertility treatments. In women, smoking may result in damage to the cervix and fallopian tubes, and possible premature aging of the ovaries. In men, smoking may lead to an abnormal semen analysis. For couples trying to conceive, especially for couples with unexplained infertility and men whose semen values are borderline, cessation of smoking should be a serious consideration. Smoking during pregnancy may also cause damage to the unborn child, since it increases the risk of having a low birth weight baby and the chance of the baby developing limb abnormalities.

Drugs & Alcohol

Considerable alcohol intake, marijuana or other illegal drug use can sometimes significantly reduce sperm production in terms of quality and numbers. For example:

  • Marijuana is linked to many problems with sperm production.
  • Steroids can reduce sperm count.
  • Cocaine can reduce the number and quality of sperm.
  • Excessive drinking can affect sexual performance and reduce sperm production.

Alcohol specifically can cause reduced testosterone -- the male hormone that contributes to sperm production. This condition may be reversible in the months following once the drug or alcohol abuse stops.

In women, drinking may lead to irregular menstrual cycles. Alcohol and illegal drug use can also increase the risk of miscarriage once a woman becomes pregnant.

Overall, it is best to avoid consuming alcohol while trying to conceive.

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