Women Who Actively and Passively Smoke Could Experience Infertility and Early Menopause

By Oxfordian Kissuth (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

The results of a large study found that women who actively smoke or those who are exposed to second hand smoke, are likely to experience infertility and hasten the occurrence of natural menopause before the age of 50 years old. The results of the study were published in the December 2015 edition of the Tobacco Control Journal.

The Study

The biggest levels of tobacco exposure were associated with the arrival of menopause 1 or 2 years earlier in women who actively smoke or those who are exposed to second hand smoke. These rates are in contrast with women who have never smoked in their lifetime or those who have never been exposed to passive smoke.

The research team based their findings on information obtained on lifetime smoking habits, fertility issues and age at natural menopause provided by more than 93,000 women participating in the Women’s Health Initiative Observational Study.

All of the women in the study had previously gone through menopause and were between the ages of 50 and 79 years old. The participants were recruited to join the study between 1993 and 1998, at 40 different facilities around the United States.

Full information on tobacco exposure and fertility, included that of the partner, and were available for 88,732 women. Approximately 79,690 of the total sample 93,676 had experienced a natural menopause, defined as not having had surgery to remove their ovaries and an absence of menstrual cycles for a period of 12 consecutive months.

Current and former smokers were asked how many cigarettes they had smoked each day, the age they began smoking (below 15 to over 30), and how many years they had smoked.

Those who never smoked were asked if and for how long they had lived with a smoker as a child, as an adult, and if they had ever had a job where colleagues smoked in the work environment.

About 15.4 percent of women that had fertility information available (13,621 or 88,732) reported issues when trying to conceive, defined as a period of 12 months or more, without becoming pregnant. Almost half (45%) of the women included in the analyzation of natural menopause said they had gone through it before the age of 50 years old.
Analysis of the information show that tobacco exposure was associated with an increased risk of early menopause and infertility.


Compared with women who never smoked, current or former smoking was associated with a 14% greater risk of infertility and a 26% increase in early menopause.

The researchers stated in closing,” This is one of the first studies of this size and statistical power to investigate and quantify active and passive smoking and women’s health issues. It strengthens the current evidence that all women need to be protected from active and passive tobacco smoking.”


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