Smoking during pregnancy or while trying to get pregnant has never been a good choice, but now researchers and doctors have a great reason to convince parents suffering from infertility problems to stop smoking. Published in Human Reproduction, a study recently found a link between smoking, egg production and sperm health.

Human Reproduction published the results of two studies on September 8, 2010. One study included women trying to conceive. Women who smoked showed a reduction in germ and somatic cells. Germ cells are responsible for egg formation in females and sperm production in men. The reduction in germ and somatic cells could also affect fertility chances for children born to moms who smoke.

Researchers tested embryos after legal pregnancy termination. Embryos ranged from 37 days to 68 days gestation. In male embryos, germs cells were reduced by more than 50% and somatic cells by 37% in the testes.

The second study involved men and measured the effect of smoking on sperm production. Protamines are important during the development stage for sperm. Researchers tested protamine levels in heavy smokers and non-smokers. Heavy smoking men showed a 14% reduction in protamine levels which could cause infertility or increased risk of miscarriage.

While smoking is detrimental at any time during a pregnancy or attempt at conception, experts note the first trimester is the most important. During the first trimester, sexual organs develop which could mean future fertility problems for children born to parents who smoke.

Source: Study One - L.S. Mamsen, M.C. Lutterodt, E.W. Andersen, S.O. Skouby, K.P. Sorenson, C. Yding Andersen, A.G. Byskov. Study Two - M.E. Hammadeh, M.F. Hamad, M. Montenarh, C. Fischer-Hammadeh.  Human Reproduction. 8 September 2010.