Smoking adds decade to female reproductive age

A new study in the Netherlands has shown that smoking adds ten years to a woman’s reproductive age.

A smoker aged 30 has the fertility of a 40-year-old, says the study, published in the journal Human Reproduction, which looked at 8,500 women, from 20 to over 40, who were having infertility treatment in the Netherlands.

Just one cigarette a day cuts the chances of becoming pregnant and increases the likelihood of a miscarriage.

Although it is accepted that smoking during pregnancy damages the unborn child, its affect on fertility was not totally clear until now. Approximately one in four women smoke and one in six couples has fertility problems.

The researchers looked at the number of successful IVF cycles and discovered that for smokers the chances of getting pregnant was 28 per cent lower than among non-smokers. The miscarriage rate for smokers was also higher – 21 per cent compared with 16 per cent.

Ovrweight women also had a 33 per cent lower rate of giving birth after their first cycle of treatment.

Professor Didi Braat, from Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre, who led the new research, said a smoker between 20 and 30 had the same chances of pregnancy as someone a full decade older.