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Vaping and how it can affect fertility of men and women? Expert shares insights

Mar 14, 2023 01:25 PM IST

While many people believe that vaping is a safer alternative to smoking, there is growing concern over the potential impact it may have on reproductive health. Let's explore the potential effects of vaping on fertility in both men and women.

Vaping is the act of inhaling vaporized nicotine or other substances using electronic cigarettes or similar devices. As vaping becomes more popular, especially among the younger generation, there is a growing concern about its potential health risks. However, while vaping may be marketed as a safer option than smoking, it is not without its risks. Contrary to common misconceptions, vaping is not a risk-free substitute for smoking. Many compounds seen in tobacco smoke have been linked to e-cigarette aerosols, some of which are either original ingredients or chemical reaction byproducts of the heating process.

Vaping is smoking e-cigarettes that are for individual use and burns nicotine and other substances, at high temperature to produce vapours. (Shutterstock)

One potential concern is the impact of vaping on fertility in both men and women. It is important to understand the potential effects of vaping on fertility in men and women. This can help individuals make informed decisions about their use of vaping products and inform public health policies related to these products. (Also read: Vaping misconceptions: Are flavoured e-cigarettes safe or cause restrictive lung disease? )

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Dr. Gunjan Sabherwal, Obstetrician, Gynaecologist and Infertility Specialist, Nova IVF Fertility Center in Gurgaon, shared with HT Lifestyle, the effects of vaping on the fertility of males and females.

What are E-cigarettes?

E-cigarettes, often known as vapes, are battery-operated devices that contain a heated liquid to be inhaled like a cigarette. The liquid itself is made up of nicotine, flavourings, propylene glycol, vegetable glycerin, and other components. Inhaled aerosol is created when the liquid is heated up. E-cigarettes come in a variety of sizes and shapes and can resemble conventional cigarettes, pipes, pens, cigars, and even pipes. Many e-cigarette tastes are created to appeal to young people with "cool" flavours ranging from fruity, and chocolate to minty flavours in candies or desserts. Although vaping may seem innocuous, e-cigarette ingredients are everything but safe.

Empact of vaping on fertility:

The emerging field of research might send shivers of anxiety to women in their twenties and thirties who aspire to be moms one day. The toxic substances present in vape liquids can be equally as dangerous as those in cigarette smoke causing early menopause, and ectopic pregnancies. And decreased egg quality. Moreover, vaping while pregnant can have a negative impact on prenatal development and hinder children's and newborns' growth.

In a study conducted by the Journal of the Endocrine Society in October 2019, researchers discovered that the combination of nicotine and other chemicals contained in e-cigarettes can cause issues with embryo implantation and the growth of the fetus in the uterus. It was found that mice exposed to the vapour of e-cigarettes experienced significant delays in the start of their first litters as well as issues with embryo implantation. Pregnant mice exposed to vaping "had altered metabolic, inflammatory, neurological, and pulmonary variables."

Men too who use e-cigarettes have been known to suffer from reduced sperm counts and lower sperm mobility. Beyond the concerns about nicotine and chemicals, researchers at the University College of London looked into the relationship between vaping and fertility and discovered that the vapor flavouring consisting of water, food-grade flavouring, nicotine levels, and propylene glycol, can adversely impact sperm. The results of the study revealed that vape juices severely reduced fertility: the cinnamon-flavored vape juice adversely affected sperm motility, while the bubblegum flavour destroyed testicular cells.

Furthermore, a study published in Tobacco Control journal examined the connection between exposure to secondhand smoke and early menopause. It was discovered that non-smokers who were subjected to the highest levels of secondhand smoke experienced menopause 13 months earlier as compared to non-smokers.

Way Forward:

Avoiding all nicotine and vaping is the right step if you intend to become pregnant in the future. However, it can be difficult to break the habit of vaping or smoking cigarettes.

Professional help: Seek guidance from a psychologist/psychiatrist to help you break free from this hazardous habit. Counselling, community help and loved ones’ support are often crucial in resisting the urges and temptations while passing through this difficult and challenging phase of life.

Exercise: Daily exercises in the early mornings help to strengthen your mind, body and spirit and make you ready to battle your challenges.

Healthy diet and good sleep: As a part of every wellness journey, ensuring incorporate a healthy, well-balanced diet and good sleep is very important.

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