Avoid alcohol, tobacco and drugs if you or your partner are trying to get pregnant and also during the pregnancy.
Long-term and high alcohol intake can affect ovulation in women, damage the testicles in men and affect the sperms’ development so that DNA changes occur.
Already during the first weeks of pregnancy, alcohol can have a harmful effect on fetal development if a pregnant woman drinks alcohol. Alcohol during pregnancy increases the likelihood of malformations, premature birth and low birth weight as well as increases the risk of brain damage. Since nobody knows what the limit is for how much alcohol can be harmful to the baby, the safest option is not to drink any alcohol at all before and during pregnancy.
Smoking makes it more difficult to get pregnant and have a child. Smoking damages the genes inside the egg and among other things affects hormone production and the endometrium, making it more difficult for a fertilized egg to attach itself. The number of egg decreases faster in women who smoke. For smokers, it takes twice as long to get pregnant compared to non-smokers. Even second-hand smoking decreases the likelihood of getting pregnant. The ability to get pregnant is improved if you stop smoking.
Smoking also affects a man’s fertility. Nicotine contracts blood vessels and muscles. It can lead to erectile dysfunction in men. Men who use tobacco also have fewer and more damaged sperm; the sperm have a deviant appearance and are less mobile, which makes fertilization more difficult.
Tobacco use affects the fetus’ well-being during pregnancy as well as the child’s health after birth. Smoking/tobacco use, among other things, results in decreased oxygen supply to the placenta with an increased risk of miscarriage, the child not growing as it should, premature birth or fetal death. Children of smoking mothers weigh less at birth and become sick more easily than children of non-smokers. A child who is subjected to second-hand smoking has an increased risk for sudden infant death syndrome. Children in homes where people smoke develop allergies, asthma, and ear and respiratory infections more easily.
It is more difficult to stop drinking, smoking or using tobacco on your own if your partner continues. If you are planning to have a child with someone, seize the opportunity to stop together. If you use drugs, you should stop before you try to get pregnant. Drugs are neither good for your chances to get pregnant or for the health of your child and you. For you to have the strength to be a good parent, it is first and foremost important that you are able to cope with life without drugs. There are specialized clinics where the staff are trained and have experience in meeting fellow human beings with drug problems.
- Baba S, Wikstrom AK, Stephansson O, Cnattingius S. Influence of snuff and smoking habits in early pregnancy on risks for stillbirth and early neonatal mortality. Nicotine Tob Res. 2014;16(1):78-83
- De angelis C, Nardone A, Garifalos F, Pivonello C et al. Smoke, alcohol and drug addiction and female fertility. Reprod Biol Endocrinol 2020 Mar 12;18(1):21.
- Payne KS, Manzur DJ, Hotaling JM, Patuszak AW. Cannabis and Male Fertility: A Systematic Review. J Urol. 2019 Oct;202(4):674-681.