Can Smoking Cause Infertility in Males?


The effects of smoking on semen quality has been investigated in several clinical studies, and their results are conflicting. Some show smokers to have a lower semen quality, whereas other report shows no effect of smoking. Read on to discover the side effects of smoking and other causes of infertility.

Can smoking affect your sperm quality? Yes, it can. Smoking is not just bad for pregnant ladies or females who are trying to conceive, it is bad for men as well.  Those couples who are involved in fertility counselling should give up smoking as soon as possible. The toxins in smoke have been shown to reduce the quality of sperm, which further lower chances of reproductive failure in male smokers. However, there are medicines to treat infertility in males. One can try medications to treat infertility but only under the guidance of a doctor.

Smoking and Infertility

We all know that smoking is bad for females as it hurts their fertility. In both men and women, smoking has been liked to a wide range of health problems, from certain cancers to emphysema. The toxic things present is a cigarette effect not only your lungs but also have a great impact on your entire body, including reproductive health. Many clinical studied have performed to check the effect of smoking on semen health. These studies found to have a close relationship between smoking and fertility; decreased sperm motility, sperm count, and poor sperm morphology as a result of smoking on sperm health. The negative effect that smoking had on sperm quality and quantity was more common in infertile men and in those who are moderate to heavy smokers as compared to light smokers.

In case of a couple with where the male partner is a smoker, there is decreased in IVF success rate and possible miscarriage rates. Second-hand smoke is also harmful to the female partner’s fertility as well. When a man smoke, he is not only decreasing his sperm count but also affecting his partner’s fertility.

Effect of Smoking on Semen Quality

Research studies on male smoking have shown a significant reduction in sperm health of male smokers. But how does smoking affect sperm health? Males who are heavy smokers have reduced sperm concentration, decreased motility, unshaped sperm, and increased sperm DNA damage.

Here is the closer look at how smoking affects sperm health:

  1. Sperm concentration– Sperm concentration is the number of sperms found in measured quality of semen produced by testicles. Studies revealed a significant change in sperm concentration in males who smoke.


  1. Sperm motility or swimming capabilities of sperm- If sperm can’t swim, it is difficult for them to reach the egg for fertilization. In male smokers, researchers found a decrease of 13% in the swimming capabilities of sperms.

  1. Sperm morphology- Morphology of sperm is a shape of sperm. Sperms that are oddly shaped may not be able to swim to reach the egg to be able to fertilize it. According to studies, male smokers have a decreased amount of healthy shaped sperms as compared to non-smokers.

  1. Sperm DNA- According to some research studies, the sperm of smokers has increased DNA fragmentation. Sperm with damaged DNA may cause problems with fertilization, embryo implantation, embryo development, and increased miscarriages rates. Such males may also have a hormonal imbalance which is one of the causes of infertility.

These effects on sperm health and hormonal imbalance may be enough to give rise to infertility issues in men. Here it is essential to know that reduced sperm health doesn’t always contribute to infertility problems. Most research studies direct connect smoking with pregnancy rates, and male fertility is still unclear.  However, those men who are already experiencing some infertility issues, smoking may trigger it and worsen your condition.

Also Read: Male infertility causes and treatments

If you are a smoker and get semen analysis results on the borderline of infertility, then it is the right time to quit smoking. Quitting may improve your fertility, and you may need additional fertility treatment. Dropping the habit not only protect you from side effects of smoking but may also improve your chances of fertility treatment success.

For smoking to be injurious, toxins found in cigarettes are frequently to be blamed. Men who exposed to smoking tend to have high levels of metals such as lead and cadmium that are often linked with decreased fertility.

Studies revealed that levels of lead are significantly higher in infertile men who smoke as compared to both fertile men and infertile non-smokers. Men who smoke 20 cigarettes or more per day were found to higher levels of cadmium in their semen. However, both these toxins are not always enough to cause infertility in men. Another metal called zinc plays a significant role. According to a study, male smokers who had low levels of zinc or less than the appropriate levels in their semen also found to have poor sperm concentration and decreased sperm mobility. Whereas, smokers with a proper level of zinc, the degree of abnormality in sperm concentrations, motility and morphology is comparatively less.