It’s common knowledge that smoking cigarettes can reduce a woman’s ability to conceive. But as the e-cigarette craze continues sweeping the globe, the trend raises questions about the impact of consuming tobacco and nicotine in other forms, such as vaping, for women trying to conceive.

Does vaping affect fertility?

It’s common knowledge that smoking cigarettes can reduce a woman’s ability to conceive. But as the e-cigarette craze continues sweeping the globe, the trend raises questions about the impact of consuming tobacco and nicotine in other forms, such as vaping, for women trying to conceive.

So, how does vaping really affect fertility?

Cigarettes’ devastating impact on fertility

The negative impact of smoking on fertility can’t be overstated. Multiple studies and meta-analyses have found that:

  • Both women and men who smoke are 50% more likely than non-smokers to struggle with infertility.
  • Smokers suffer from higher rates of miscarriage and stillbirth than non-smokers.
  • Smoking can damage eggs and ovaries, leading to lower egg quality and even earlier menopause.

With cigarette smoking linked to both troubles in conceiving and negative outcomes for pregnancy, doctors recommend that women who are trying to get pregnant stop smoking. Even  a few cigarettes a week can put a roadblock between a woman and a healthy pregnancy.

Smoking and assisted reproduction

It’s clear that smoking reduces the chances of becoming pregnant naturally. Can the same be said for women who are trying to conceive via assisted reproduction?

An American study of women undergoing IVF treatments found that smokers experienced lower rates of success. They had a 50% reduction in implantation and ongoing pregnancy rate, compared to women who did not smoke during their treatment cycle.

Strikingly, the study found that women who had stopped smoking shortly before their treatment cycle had the same rates of implantation and full-term pregnancy as non-smokers, illustrating just how damaging smoking is for fertility.

That conclusion was confirmed by a Danish study, which found a direct link between smoking and unsuccessful fertility treatments. Tobacco use before and during pregnancy lead to higher rates of maternal, fetal, and infant morbidity and mortality, the researchers wrote, along with lower rates of pregnancy.

What about vaping?

Often touted as a healthier alternative to smoking cigarettes, vaping refers to consuming tobacco via an electronic device. There are a number of vaping devices on the market. Some are visually similar to traditional cigarettes, while others are sleek, futuristic-looking devices.

Unlike cigarettes, these battery-powered devices heat up cartridges filled with liquid, turning them into vapor which is then inhaled by the user.

Because the most damaging chemicals in cigarette smoke — carbon monoxide and tar — are not present in vape smoke, the UK’s National Health Service has recommended that smokers try vaping as a tool to wean themselves off cigarettes.

However, vaping is not harmless. Vape liquid contains large amounts of highly addictive nicotine, and initial studies have linked the practice to lung irritation. And because vaping is so new, the long-term effects are still unknown.

Vaping and fertility struggles – is there a connection?

While research is ongoing, it appears that yes, vaping can lead to fertility difficulties.

A recent study published in the Journal of the Endocrine Society found a correlation between e-cigarette use and embryo implantation. Researchers found that mice exposed to e-cigarette vapor had major delays in the onset of their first litters, along with difficulties in embryo implantation. In pregnant mice, vaping “caused changes in metabolic, inflammatory, neurological, and pulmonary factors within exposed offspring.”

In other words, there was a strong connection between delayed pregnancy, impaired implantation of embryos, birth defects, and vaping. The negative impact on both fertility and fetal health should serve as a caution for women who vape that are considering becoming pregnant.

Researchers from Oregon State University found in a meta-analysis that “e-cigarette usage during pregnancy will be as harmful to fetal lung development as is conventional cigarette usage.”

But it’s not just women’s fertility that’s impacted by vaping. Men who use e-cigarettes daily were found to have poorer quality sperm and lower sperm counts than non-smokers.

A Polish study noted that vaping liquid contains a range of harmful substances that have the potential to affect fertility, including “endocrine disruptors, which disturb hormonal balance and morphology and the function of the reproductive organs.”

The impact of nicotine

Although e-cigarettes may be safer than traditional cigarettes, nicotine is definitively linked to health risks for both pregnant women and their fetuses.

Some of the dangers for babies exposed to nicotine in utero include:

For women who are trying to conceive, there’s a clear link between smoking and a higher chance of ectopic pregnancy. Nicotine has been found to cause a spike in abnormal sperm morphology among male mice, and it’s likely that also applies to humans.

E-cigarette liquid is largely unregulated, which means that it’s hard to know just how much nicotine one cartridge contains. This lack of standardization adds another risk factor for women who are trying to conceive or who are pregnant.

Should I quit vaping if I’m trying to conceive?

Absolutely!

If you’re thinking about becoming pregnant, this is an excellent time to put the vape down and embrace a nicotine-free life. While it’s tempting to think that e-cigarettes are a safe alternative to smoking, the truth is that vaping can also seriously hurt your health – not to mention that of your future baby.

There are many resources available to help you kick your tobacco habit before you become pregnant. Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) is one option, but you should consult with your doctor about the best plan of action for you.

Cutting out nicotine doesn’t just raise your chances of becoming pregnant – whether you’re conceiving naturally or using reproductive assistance – it can also increase the likelihood of carrying a baby to term. Not to mention that your baby will have a smaller risk of potential issues upon birth.

Although research is still ongoing into whether or not e-cigarettes are safer than traditional smoking during pregnancy, there’s plenty of evidence that shows any nicotine consumption can negatively affect the health of both mother and baby.