Did you know that two hundred million of the world’s approximately one billion smokers are women?
Women smokers face unique challenges, not only with the fact that they have poor cessation rates compared to men but because they are more susceptible to the detrimental effects of smoking on their health.
Let’s explore the various effects and risks of smoking on a woman’s health along with the best strategy to develop to effectively quit smoking and consequently reduce such risks.
Effects of Smoking on Women’s Reproductive/Gynecological Health
OBGYNs strongly urge their patients who smoke to quit long before they even consider pregnancy. Women smokers are at a greater risk of infertility compared to nonsmokers, and this risk increases with the number of cigarettes smoked in a day.
If a woman does get pregnant, the nicotine in cigarettes can harm the fetus. According to the U. S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the dangerous chemicals in cigarettes increase the risk of slow fetal development, ectopic pregnancy, early miscarriage, and stillbirth. Ectopic pregnancy is a type of pregnancy in which the embryo implants in the fallopian tube rather than in the uterine wall.
Additionally, women who smoke have higher rates of the following conditions:
- Breast cancer
- Cardiovascular diseases associated with oral contraceptive use
- Cervical cancer
- Early menopause
- Painful and irregular menstruation
- Placenta previa (the placenta is positioned dangerously close to the cervix)
- Placental abruption (the placenta prematurely separates from the uterus, causing hemorrhage, fetal oxygen deprivation and early delivery)
- Preterm labor (earlier than 37 weeks gestation)
Effects of Smoking on Women’s Overall Health
It’s been more than 50 years since the Surgeon General of the United States issued a scathing report on the adverse health effects of cigarettes. Today, there have surfaced more reasons as to why women (and men) smokers should quit and why no one should begin smoking in the first place.
Listed below are just some of the health conditions women suffer with because of smoking:
- Abdominal aortic aneurysms
- COPD, including emphysema
- Coronary artery disease
- Heart attack
- Increased rates of infection of all kinds
- Lung cancer
- Slow wound healing
Also, smoking accelerates skin aging by reducing collagen production, robbing tissues of oxygen, and drying them due to the cigarette’s heat.
How to Quit Smoking
Talk to your doctor about smoking cessation programs and support groups. Studies show that medically supervised programs that combine cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) with nicotine patches or other pharmacologic interventions have high success rates. Likewise, support group participants are six times more likely to completely quit smoking—and maintain cessation—than those who try to quit on their own.
CBT is an evidence-based psychological intervention for people wanting to effectively quit smoking. Smoking is a behavior acquired through social interactions and reinforcements. As such, changing and restructuring thought processes—combined with adopting new behaviors—are essential for people who want to permanently quit smoking.
Women’s Health Services in Syracuse, NY
At University OBGYN Associates in Syracuse, we have a dynamic team of board-certified OB/GYNs, nurse practitioners, and midwives who specialize on various aspects of women’s health. We have also brought together all of the healthcare services the women in our community may need throughout their lives, so they can receive comprehensive, personalized care within one system.
If you have concerns about how smoking can impact your reproductive/gynecological health and have the desire to quit, you can talk to one of our OB/GYNs. Call us at (315) 470-7903 for an appointment. We have several locations to take care of your needs, and we look forward to serving you!