Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Infertility & Reproduction Health Center

Font Size

Secondhand Smoke May Affect Women's Fertility

WebMD Health News

Oct. 2, 2000 -- Even if a woman doesn't smoke, just being around a spouse, friend, or co-worker who does could significantly lower her chances of being able to get pregnant.

Many different conditions affect fertility, in both men and women. Smoking lowers a woman's fertility by about 20%, while men who smoke have lower sperm counts by about 16%, some research has shown. So a woman who smokes automatically lowers her fertility potential. But if her partner also smokes, or if she spends time breathing the smoke of others, it may take her much longer than she expected to get pregnant -- or so says a new study by British researchers.

Study author W. Christopher L. Ford, PhD, says a woman who smokes and is exposed to others' smoke can be expected to have the greatest delays in trying to become pregnant. "The passive smoke adds on as though you were smoking more cigarettes yourself," he explains.

In his study, published in the journal Fertility and Sterility, Ford found that women who smoked and had a partner who smoked were significantly less likely than others to become pregnant in six months of trying to conceive. Women smokers also had less success getting pregnant within a year of trying, and the delay increased along with the number of cigarettes smoked per day.

Women who did not smoke but were exposed to passive smoke were more likely than those with no such exposures to be unable to conceive within six months, but they had a higher likelihood of getting pregnant in a year of trying than women who smoked.

Previous studies have shown that chemicals in tobacco smoke can damage a man's sperm and can actually lodge in a woman's ovaries and interfere with her reproductive function. Although Ford's team didn't actually test the ovaries of women who'd been exposed to passive smoke to look for evidence of harmful tobacco byproducts, he says it makes sense that heavy exposure to passive smoke -- and, especially, living with a smoker -- could cause the same problems as actual smoking for women trying to conceive.

Today on WebMD

Four pregnant women standing in a row
How much do you know about conception?
Couple with surrogate mother
Which one is right for you?
couple lying in grass holding hands
Why Dad's health matters.
couple viewing positive pregnancy test
6 ways to improve your chances.
Which Treatment Is Right For You
Conception Myths
eddleman prepare your body pregnancy
Charting Your Fertility Cycle
Fertility Specialist
Understanding Fertility Symptoms
invitro fertilization