Smoking tobacco causes a lot of damage to the body. It affects not only the functioning of the lungs and heart, but also other organs, including the testicles. How does nicotine addiction affect sperm quality? Some of the conclusions are surprising.
Scientists have no doubt that smoking has a negative impact on both sexual and reproductive health. Men addicted to nicotine often complain of erection problems. Substances and compounds contained in cigarette smoke disturb the functioning of the cardiovascular system. They narrow blood vessels, which hinders blood flow to tissues, including the corpus cavernosum of the penis. As a result, smokers often have problems achieving and maintaining an erection. Tobacco addiction impairs not only sexual performance. It also lowers important sperm parameters.
Semen quality and smoking
Research conducted by scientists has proven that smoking cigarettes reduces the number of sperm in semen. It also negatively affects their mobility. Moreover, nicotine – as shown by analyzes performed by experts from the University of Aveiro, Portugal – promotes the accumulation of pathological proteins in sperm, which triggers mechanisms characteristic of the reaction to oxidative stress, i.e. a state of imbalance. The phenomenon occurs when free radicals are overproduced. When these reactive oxygen species begin to dominate over antioxidants, premature aging of the body’s cells occurs. The viability of male reproductive cells decreases and the risk of many cancers, such as testicular and prostate cancer, increases.
In addition, cigarette smoke damages the structure of sperm. As a result, their ability to fertilize an egg decreases dramatically. The consequences of tobacco addiction – as indicated by research carried out by British experts – are not only difficulties in conceiving a child. Low quality of pregnancy also increases the risk of miscarriages, i.e. spontaneous termination of pregnancy before the 22nd week.
Not only smoking – what else reduces semen quality?
Poor semen quality is one of the main causes of problems with conceiving a child in men. According to estimates by the World Health Organization (WHO), the so-called male factor is also increasingly responsible for marital infertility. This happens in less than 50 percent of all cases. The decline in semen quality depends on many different aspects. Not only smoking affects sperm parameters. As Dr. Hagai Levine, an epidemiologist and public health researcher, points out, obesity, physical inactivity, previous illnesses, alcohol consumption and a diet rich in ultra-processed foods may also contribute to problems with the functioning of male reproductive cells.