Effects of Smoking on Reproduction
Stacie L. Thomason
The effects that smoking has on reproduction can be extensive. It not only affects women and children, but men as well. Smoking before getting pregnant can cause infertility in both men and women. Other issues than can occur are infertility in men and women, low birth weight in babies, still birth, miscarriage, and effects on children as they grow. After a child is born, issues such as asthma, clef lip/palate, ADHD, and ODD can occur. These issues are lifelong challenges for both children and parents. I have learned thru research and personal experience that this can affect not just the parents’ lives but also the children’s. Everyone needs to know these effects because it’s not just from smoking but second hand smoke can cause these problems as well. The research in done to complete this essay has opened my eyes to the consequences and has encouraged me to quit smoking as well.
When I found out that I was pregnant with my son, I vowed to quit smoking. I went a week without smoking while on vacation with my family. When I returned home I received devastating news from my then husband that he was deploying to Iraq sooner than expected. I started smoking again after that. I had a pretty normal pregnancy; no major problems. He did not have asthma, a cleft lip or palate, no abnormal birth, and he did not die of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). I thought my son and I were ok, we were normal, but we weren’t. At four years old my son started showing behavior problems. I thought it was due to his father and me getting a divorce. His doctor advised that he was too young to be tested for behavior problems, and yet in the middle of his kindergarten year he had been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). We struggled for two more years with behavior problems, fighting with each other for control and hurting each other emotionally. He had to learn my rules and his consequences, and I had to learn to be patient and refrain from yelling. After two years of this I decided to have him officially tested for ADHD and that was when he was diagnosed with Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD). I finally knew why he was behaving so badly, but it broke my heart to know that it was because he couldn’t control it. Today my son receives therapy and is doing much better trying to learn how to control himself, but we both still have a long road ahead of us. We’ve all been told about the hazards of smoking; lung cancer, smoker’s cough, the effects of second hand smoking, and most important you shouldn’t smoke during pregnancy. Does smoking affect men’s sperm? What about before getting pregnant? Does smoking have any effect before conception? Why not smoke during pregnancy? Doctor’s tell us it’s harmful to the baby; but how? Are there continued consequences after birth? There are people who don’t know the answers to these questions. People of all ages need to understand the long term ramifications of smoking and reproduction. If we can educate people about these long term effects, the country could see a reduction in health problems in children. Smoking before pregnancy can cause multiple issues not just for women but men as well. Women who smoke are more likely to have difficulties conceiving by natural ways and by in vitro fertilization. The toxins that are found in cigarettes diminish the quality of the eggs, decrease the function of the fallopian tubes, and increase the chances of an ectopic pregnancy (where the embryo attaches outside of the uterus). Men who smoke risk having defects and deformities with their sperm. Examples of deformities are the sperm being misshaped or having two heads. When the sperm is misshaped, they don’t swim as will and therefore have difficulty making their way to the egg. Deformed sperm can also cause the embryo to miscarry during the first twenty weeks of pregnancy....
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