CU Study First to Prove Smoking in Males Increases Infertility

University of Colorado physician suggests damage is compounded when both the male and female partners in fertility treatment smoke

Denver – Males who smoke while trying to conceive when their female partner has polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) have a harder time getting pregnant, says a recently published study conducted by the University of Colorado Advanced Reproductive Medicine.

This is the first time we have medically demonstrated a detrimental impact of male smoking for fertility in any population,” said Alex Polotsky, MD, MS, Associate Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Interim Division Director for Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility at the University of Colorado Denver. “Scientists have collected data on the effects of smoking on female fertility for a long time, but never fully studied male smoking habits and how that may affect fertility and chances of a live birth.”

Published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, “Impact of Male and Female Weight, Smoking, and Intercourse Frequency on Live Birth in Women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome” aimed to determine the impact of male characteristics on the chances to conceive after fertility treatment. A common hormonal condition, PCOS causes women to produce excess androgens (key hormones that help reproduction) that cause irregular and unreliable ovulation. Other factors, such as obesity, are also known to make it harder for women with PCOS to conceive.

Polotsky says that researchers think this link suggests that there are compounding effects if both partners smoke, possibly due to the combination of self-smoking and second-hand smoke exposure on ovulation, conception and live birth. Now, for the first time, physicians are able to use these data to encourage their patients to quit smoking.

The study was an analysis of a clinical trial conducted by the National Institutes of Health. The trial, called the PPCOS II trial, recruited 750 infertile women with PCOS and their male partners from many sites across the United States, including the University of Colorado. Dr. Polotsky and his team looked at many factors that affect fertility and determined that couples in which both men and women smoked had an almost 80 percent decrease in their chance to conceive after fertility treatment.

The study also examined other factors such as high body mass index (BMI) or obesity in males as well as intercourse frequency and chance of live birth. Read the entire study at the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

About University of Colorado Advanced Reproductive Medicine

The University of Colorado Advanced Reproductive Medicine specializes in the evaluation and treatment of infertility and reproductive disorders. The center offers each patient a comprehensive evaluation and treatment plan to provide personalized care with the most advanced technology available. Our goal is to make every effort to treat reproductive disorders with simple methods and less expensive therapies. However, in cases where these prove unsuccessful, as a state of the art facility, we draw upon the latest advances and the most sophisticated methods available in infertility and reproductive therapy.