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Quitting Smoking and Your Future Health

Updated on March 22, 2010

In your 20s and 30s you may feel pretty invincible and believe that a few cigarettes won't have much effect. Unfortunately, smoking can have detrimental effects

Quitting Smoking: planning for the future


Smoking affects both men's and women's fertility. Women who smoke take longer to conceive and there is some evidence that smoking increases the risk of miscarriage. Men who smoke have lower semen quality, reduced sperm count and a higher proportion of malformed sperm than non-smokers1.

If you are planning on starting a family, quitting smoking should be one of the first things you do. Women who want to get pregnant are advised to live in a smoke-free environment for at least three months before conception. This means you both need to quit.

Even if you are not planning a family, there are other benefits to remind yourself about:

Sexual performance

Smoking can cause impotence in men. For men in their 30s and 40s, smoking increases the risk of impotence by 50 per cent2.

Smoking and oral contraceptives

If you smoke while taking the combined oral contraceptive pill, you put yourself at increased risk of a number of conditions.

Women who take oral contraceptives are at increased risk of heart disease. However, the risk is low and for most young women, the benefits of using the pill outweigh the risks. Unfortunately, the risk of having a heart attack increases 20 times if you smoke while taking the combined contraceptive pill3.

Research also suggests that taking the combined contraceptive pill and smoking increases the risk of suffering a stroke by seven times. And, smoking may also increase the risk of the combined contraceptive pill failing - there doesn't not appear to be the same risk of pill failure with the progesterone-only pill3.

Smoking and cervical cancer

Studies have found that women who smoke are about twice as likely to develop cervical cancer than non-smokers and that the risk increases with duration of smoking4.

Good news

The good news is that whatever your age, it is never too late to give up smoking. Giving up smoking reduces your risk of suffering a heart attack and it is particularly important for those who have other risk factors such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol or who are overweight or diabetic.

Remind yourself of some of the health benefits of quitting smoking and stick with your plan to be tobacco-free.


  1. "The Health Consequences of Smoking." A Report of the U.S. Surgeon General. Office on Smoking & Health, 2004. Centers for Disease Control. Visited 20 June 2005.
  2. "Smoking can harm your sexual health." Visited 20 June 2005.
  3. British Medical Association report: Smoking and Reproductive Life:
  4. "Overview: Cervical Cancer." American Cancer Society. Visited 20 June 2005.


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