May 20, 2016

Q & A: Smoke Gets In The Way … Or Does It?

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If not the Bikini Wax, then ... ?

Question: My partner and I have been trying to get pregnant but so far have not been able to. Is it because I use tobacco? If I give it up, will we be able to conceive?

There are many different reasons why a couple may find it difficult to become pregnant. Some are due to something with the woman’s body, such as if she does not ovulate (release an egg). Other issues are due to something with the man’s body, such as low sperm count or slow moving sperm. It’s also possible that both people’s bodies seem to “work” all right but don’t work that well together. And sometimes doctors are unable to figure out why a couple cannot seem to conceive.

It’s More Than Biology

Myths and misinformation also get in the way. Sometimes couples think they should be able to become pregnant quickly when in fact it varies quite a bit.

While some people become pregnant the first time they have unprotected penile-vaginal intercourse, it’s more common for it to take a few months of having unprotected intercourse before becoming pregnant. Many couples (especially those who are in their 30s or 40s) may find it takes even longer, even a year or two, to become pregnant.

And sometimes people are just going about it wrong; I’ve heard from several sex therapists who have had very conservative clients who didn’t know much about sex and thought they were infertile, when in fact they were not even thrusting as part of sex (and thus the man had never even ejaculated inside the woman’s vagina).

Check With Her OB/GYN

Smoking cigarettes has been linked to lower sperm quality, although I’d be surprised if your tobacco use had caused significant enough damage that you were unable to conceive because of it (many smokers are able to conceive). To find out more about your fertility with your partner, I recommend asking your partner’s ob/gyn for their thoughts on your health, your partner’s health, and what you might try to improve your chances of conception.

Of course, there are also many ways to make babies and to parent. You may find that you two are able to become pregnant without any intervention. Or else you may find it helpful to look into fertility treatments, adoption, or surrogacy. Some of this will depend on your age and financial abilities (as well as health insurance and general health status) and how long you have been trying to conceive. Your partner’s doctor is the best place to start!