Infertility affects 10 – 15% of couples globally with rates steadily increasing in part due to deterioration in male reproductive health. Male factor plays a significant role in up to 50% of infertility cases. Male infertility affects up to 7% of all men. Male infertility is more commonly due to deficiencies in semen and sperm parameters.
Male infertility, over the years worldwide has been attributed to lifestyle disorders, stress, communicable diseases, chronic health problems, trauma and injury resulting in low sperm count, abnormal sperm structure and/or low sperm motility. In certain cases, the cause or underlying etiology is unknown.
As a highlight, Indian society’s paradigm of “ideal marriage” is observed to play a significant role in occurrence of male infertility in India. Indian system of marriages within closed communities (Endogamy) is recently viewed as a more frequent cause for deficient sperm parameters and infertility among Indian men.
This common practice of marriages bound to said communities in India could be a cause of concern contributing to higher percentage of male infertility among childless couples in India. A reduction in the gene pool and deletion of Y chromosomes is found to be the reason behind this concern. Y chromosomes carry varied genes responsible for producing functional sperms through the process of spermatogenesis. Such genes, when deleted, results in testicular defects and spermatogenetic dysfunction that leads to deficient sperm parameters indicating male infertility.
Latest clinical trials and comparative studies in the recent past have revealed micro to macro deletion of Y chromosomes as causal variations of male infertility in Indian men. Having understood the deletion of Y chromosomes as a cause for male infertility, a team of scientists headed by K.Thangaraj, at the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) in Hyderabad conducted a research to study the molecular mechanism behind such deletion.
Scientists explained that the genes essential for spermatogenesis carried along the long arm of Y chromosomes, are accommodated in three genetic regions namely AZFa, AZFb and AZFc of Azoospermia factor(AZF). Azoospermia is the medical term that denotes absence of viable sperms in semen and sperm parameters. The comparative study of screening 973 infertile men against 587 fertile men indicated that 29.4% of infertile Indian men carried deletion of AZF regions. The study also added that infertile men in India exhibited epidemiologically unique combinations of deletion and also higher frequency of Y chromosome deletions in relevance to other parts of the world.
Therefore, this study and it’s findings on infertile Indian men detected with deletions of Y chromosomes is a clear marker to correlate the wide practice of Endogamy and associated genetic factors with risk of male infertility in Indian population.
Further, Y chromosome deletions in infertile men often lead to repeated failure of conception among respective infertile couples adopting Assisted Reproductive Techniques (ARTs). Hence, these findings could be applied in infertility clinics to prioritize screening of infertile men for Y chromosome deletions before an infertile couple decides to adopt ARTs. Male infertility treatment procedures and Assisted Reproductive Technology that involve vast investments could thus save on speculations as well.
Smoking kills your sex drive
Smoking tobacco may lead to lack of sex drive. Men who are chronic smokers may take longer than usual to get sexually aroused. It is also believed to be due the decreased blood flow to the penis. Sexual sensation over the genitals also may be impaired in men who smoke.
Now that you have read about how smoking tobacco can affect a mans sexual performance, you may also be keen to find out whether smoking tobacco has an impact on a man’s fertility.
Can smoking make a man infertile?
Sad, but the reality is that smoking has harmful effects on a mans sperms. The quality of sperms may deteriorate in men who smoke. The reduced sperm health alone may not make a man infertile but if a man is borderline infertile, smoking may be enough to push him over the edge to become infertile.
Apart from its effects on sperm health, smoking tobacco may also alter the levels and balance of male sex hormones.
Smokers have high levels of lead and cadmium in their semen which in excess amounts are toxic to the body and are thought to be the cause for decreased fertility in them. Zinc levels in the semen of heavy smokers are found to be low and contribute to infertility.
Smoking tobacco has shown to decrease the sperm count by about 23 percent. Lowered sperm count means that less number of sperms are delivered to the female partners uterus during sexual intercourse. Low sperm counts may reduce the chances of conceiving a baby.
Yet another effect tobacco smoking has on sperms is on their motility. Sperm motility refers to the swimming capacity of the sperms. Sperm motility is important for the sperms to reach the egg and fertilize it. If sperm motility is abnormal, it may not be able to successfully fertilize an egg in the female genital tract.
Sperm morphology or structure may also get altered in chronic smokers. The specific shape of the sperms are important for successful penetration of an egg by the sperm during fertilization. Abnormalities in the sperm shape and size may lead to difficulty in fertilization.
Sperm DNA is also known to get damaged by exposure to tobacco smoke. The DNA damage may lead to unsuccessful fertilization by the damaged sperms or if in case the sperm manages to fertilize an egg, the so formed fetus may be at risk for miscarriage.
Having read about the damage that smoking may cause to sperm genetic material, the thought of being responsible for possible birth defects in your child is distressing. Read on to find out if there is a possible risk of birth defects in children of men who are smokers.
The damage to sperm DNA caused by smoking tobacco may result in defects in the embryo. There is no evidence to prove the same but theoretically defective sperm DNA may be considered as a possible cause for congenital defects in babies born to men who smoke tobacco.
We have already understood how male smoking affects a couples fertility. If a couple have been trying long for a baby, after detailed evaluation of the couple, doctors may advice a range of treatment options to overcome the infertility problem. If the initial treatment modalities have failed, IVF or in vitro fertilization comes to the rescue of many couples. Recent studies have suggested that smoking in men may reduce success rates of IVF and other assisted reproductive techniques. Hence in couples trying to conceive a baby, the foremost lifestyle changes to bring in would be to quit smoking. The benefits of quitting smoking may become evident in the fertility pattern of both partners. Wondering how female fertility is affected if the male partner smokes? Let us share some research findings.
Effects of passive smoking on female infertility
Research has shown that when women are exposed to second hand smoking, there is a decrease in female fertility. Some studies have shown that there is about 46 percent decrease in the number of eggs retrieved during IVF process in women who have been exposed to passive smoking. It reflects on the possible effects of second hand smoking on ovulation. There is a possibility that the toxins contained in cigarette smoke are transferred passively to the female partner and interfere with cyclical ovulation. So it is advisable for men who smoke to do so, away from their partners if they are trying to conceive a baby, so as to avoid negative effects on the females partners fertility.
All of us are well aware that smoking tobacco is associated with a number of health hazards which can also affect passive smokers just as in the case of fertility. A quick look into the various health effects of smoking would be nice at this point.
Hazards of smoking
Anyone form of tobacco smoking can be harmful to your body. Tobacco is usually smoked in the form of cigarettes, cigars or hookah. One of the most common problems with smoking is dependence. If a chronic heavy smoker makes an attempt at quitting smoking, he may experience withdrawal symptoms in the form of severe cognitive impairment, anxiety, restlessness etc.
Nowadays cancer being on the high, all of us our aware that smoking is a possible cause for the deadly disease. Cancers caused by smoking are mostly of the mouth, stomach and lungs.
Besides, smoking is itself a risk factor for chronic medical ailments such as hypertension, heart attacks and atherosclerosis. Hypertension if not under control can further lead to brain stroke and long term in-capacitation. Long standing hypertension can also cause an insult to the kidneys and lead to renal failure.
Another major complication in chronic smokers is lung damage leading to chronic lung diseases such emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Smoking also puts a person at higher risk for recurrent lung intentions. In emphysema the lung tissue loses its elasticity and cannot function adequately to remove air that has high carbon dioxide content.
Let us now read about the research that led to the hypothesis that paternal smoking can affect the son’s sperm count.
Paternal smoking and it’s effects on the son’s sperm health
Recent studies suggest that men whose fathers smoked at the time of pregnancy had 50% less sperm counts when compared to those whose fathers did not smoke during the time of conception and pregnancy. Paternal smoking is also linked to a shorter reproductive lifespan in daughters. The above findings were regardless of maternal smoking or nicotine exposure.
Medical research also points towards greater incidence of mutations in certain repetitive parts of DNA from children born to smoking fathers in comparison to those of children born to non smokers. This is probably because unlike maternal ovum ,the fathers gametes undergo division throughout life and are prone to mutations at the precise time of division. The mutations that have occurred in the sperms are thus passed on to the off-springs resulting in reduced sperm quality in the son’s .
However the research has not been successful in determining the exact mechanism of reduced sperm count in male off-springs of fathers who smoke .
If you have finally decided on kicking the habit of smoking you may be wondering if it will really help improve your overall and sexual health as you have been doing it for quiet a long while already. Find out on this page.
How long after I quit smoking will my sperm improve?
It takes close to 90 days for new sperms to form and mature within the male testes. So it would be sensible to quit smoking at least for 3 months prior to conception to be assured that all the affected sperms have been replenished with new un-mutated sperms.
If your semen analysis had shown abnormalities, repeating a semen analysis after 3-6 months of quitting smoking will reveal the improvement if smoking was the cause for the defect in your sperms.
When it comes to other chronic medical ailments such as heart attacks, hypertension and chronic lung problem, the damage done is directly related to the number of years and the quantity that you smoked. So each day after having quit smoking counts, with regards to improvement of overall health.
It is a very common doubt on whether chewing tobacco can have the same ill effects as smoking tobacco.
Is chewing tobacco as harmful as smoking?
Though smoking tobacco is associated with more health risks, chewing tobacco cannot be named harmless. Chewing tobacco is associated with higher risks of oral cancers and heart disease.
Does tobacco chewing affect sperm quality?
Studies have shown decreased sperm quality in men who are heavy tobacco chewers. Tobacco chewing may cause decreased sperm motility and viability. The sperm shape and count may also be affected. However it is unclear if tobacco chewing is enough to cause infertility in itself.
Having read about the various facts related to smoking tobacco and sperm health it would be a sensible call to put the habit out before trying to conceive baby. The benefits are not limited to your reproductive health and will result your overall well being.
Quit smoking for a healthy baby and a healthier you!!!