30 May 2023

Are electronic cigarettes dangerous for fertility?

electronic cigarettes fertility
By the Editorial Comitee IVI Blog

smAccording to the 2019 European Health Survey, 25% of European adults smoke regularly. What is striking is that 2% regularly use electronic nicotine delivery systems. We are facing a growing trend, especially amongst young people.

May 31st is World No Tobacco Day, and that’s why we want to analyze whether these electronic cigarettes are really less harmful, as believed. We will see what substances they contain and why they can also affect fertility in both men and women.

What are vapers?

Vapers are devices that emerge as an alternative to traditional cigarettes. They consist of a liquid solution, known as vape liquid, which is inhaled as vapor. Instead of combustion, the liquid is heated, and the user inhales the vapor, hence the (false) belief that they are not as toxic as tobacco.

Relationship between vapers and infertility

Given the increase in the use of vapers and electronic cigarettes, the first studies are being conducted on their impact on health. The conclusions are clear. Nicotine is as present as in traditional tobacco, and that’s why it causes a reduction in fertility.

Vapers and female fertility

In the case of female fertility, nicotine can interfere with ovulation, causing a decrease in ovulatory activity. It also affects embryo implantation, as it hinders achieving pregnancy, thus increasing the risk of infertility. It also accelerates the loss of eggs and it affects their quality. In addition, pregnant women who continue to vape face a higher risk of complications, such as premature birth or low birth weight.

Vapers and male fertility

Nicotine is also known for its ability to reduce male fertility. Specifically, it alters sperm production, affecting their quality and motility. It has also been found that nicotine exposure can alter sperm DNA and increase the risk of genetic mutations in progeny.

Other negative health consequences

Recent research has documented these impacts, such as a study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association in 2019. It showed that vaping significantly increased blood pressure, heart rate, and arterial stiffness in the study participants. These alterations can affect sperm and egg production, as well as the normal functioning of female and male reproductive organs.

Another study, published in the medical journal JAMA Cardiology in 2018, found that regular users of electronic nicotine delivery systems had a higher risk of developing heart diseases and strokes than non-users.

Vapers and fertility in young people

It is important to note that the use of electronic nicotine delivery systems has significantly increased among young people in some European countries.

Although there are variations, a study published in the journal Tobacco Control in 2019, for example, found that up to 22% of young people in the United Kingdom used vapers.

In this regard, in addition to what has been mentioned earlier about how vapers affect fertility in both women and men, there are aspects to emphasize among young people. The anti-Müllerian hormone, for instance, is a value that should be monitored annually in young girls interested in their fertility. It is important to remember that both the quantity and quality of oocytes decrease as age advances. The ovarian reserve is a factor that can be compromised due to nicotine, present in vapers as well as traditional or electronic cigarettes.

How tobacco affects fertility

As explained throughout the article, nicotine is one of the main elements present in tobacco that negatively affects fertility. It can cause early menopause due to the aging it induces in smokers (active or passive) and other fertility issues. Among them is the destruction of follicles, to varying degrees depending on the amount consumed.

At IVI, we are experts in infertility problems, including those caused by smoking or the use of vapers. If you wish, you can consult with us, and we will schedule an online appointment with one of our specialists to determine the next steps if you are having trouble getting pregnant.

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