Smoking is bad for everyone, but some of the health risks affect females only. Smoking has adverse effects on female reproductive health, fertility, fetal development, and puts women at a higher risk of certain cancers.
5 health risks of smoking in females
1. Damages your reproductive system
Women who smoke are at higher risk of reproductive health issues. The nicotine in tobacco smoke lowers the estrogen levels and can cause issues such as:
- Irregular periods
- Painful periods
- Mood swings
- Vaginal dryness
- Pain during sex
- Early menopause
- Worsened menopause symptoms
2. Hurts your unborn child
Smoking produces carbon monoxide, which has a higher affinity for fetal tissue than adult tissue. When nicotine crosses the placenta it increases the baby’s heart rate, affecting its development and increasing risks of:
- Premature birth
- Low birth weight
- Birth defects
- Abnormal brain development or spinal cord development
- Death from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
- Miscarragiage (39% higher risk)
- Ectopic pregnancy (a dangerous condition when the embryo implants outside the uterus, most commonly in the fallopian tubes)
- Placental abruption (separation of the placenta from the uterine wall)
- Placenta previa (opening of the uterus is covered by the placenta)
3. Damages your respiratory system
Women who smoke have a higher risk of developing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which has no cure and progresses over time. Damage to the airways can lead to breathing problems that often require emergency medications to resolve. Women have a greater chance of developing severe COPD at younger ages than men. They are also more likely to die from the condition than men.
4. Damages your heart
Smoking increases your risk of heart disease, which is one of the leading causes of death in all genders. More young people die from heart diseases due to smoking than any other medical condition.
- Women over 35 who smoke are more likely to die from heart disease compared to men of the same age who smoke.
- Heart disease risk increases in women who use oral contraceptive pills, especially after age 35.
- Women who smoke are 2-6 times more likely to have a heart attack than those who do not.
5. Raises cancer risk
Smoking increases the risk of developing many types of cancer. In women, it can raise their risk of developing:
Smoking can also increase the risk of dying from lung cancer.
How to quit smoking
Nicotine addiction can be difficult to overcome, but is not impossible. The benefits of not smoking are enormous, especially in women. Here are some tips that can help you quit smoking:
- Focus on the benefits: Quitting smoking improves your health and lowers your risk of a myriad of health problems that affect both you and your unborn children.
- Find a good support system: Once you have decided to quit, ask your friends and family to support you on your journey to better health. You can also use mobile apps, helplines, websites, and other tools to gain access to counseling programs that can help you kick the habit.
- Avoid triggers: Identify things or situations that make you want to smoke. Once you have figured out your triggers, avoid them or find healthier alternatives.
- Get rid of reminders: Throw away things that remind you of smoking, such as ashtrays and lighters. Get rid of clothes that smell like smoth and use air-fresheners in your house and car.
- Find other ways to relax: One of the main reasons people turn to smoking is that it helps them relax. Find other ways to de-stress, whether it’s listening to music, hanging out with your friends, getting a massage, or engaging in a hobby.
- Seek professional help: If you are trying to get pregnant and want to quit smoking, ask your doctor or pharmacist about options such as:
- Local support groups
- In-person or telephone counseling
- Smartphone apps
- Online quitting programs
- Medications that help with quitting smoking
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
National Institutes of Health. Smoking’s Impact on Women’s Health. https://women.smokefree.gov/quit-smoking-women/what-women-should-know/smokings-impact-on-women#
Lande RG. Nicotine Addiction Treatment & Management. Medscape. https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/287555-treatment
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