Despite being the most preventable cause of death in the United States, many people continue to smoke cigarettes. While most people are aware of the many illnesses that can befall them, the habit claims at least 480,000 lives per year, which translates to about 1 in every 5 deaths caused by smoking-related factors.
Cigarettes are harmful to anybody: men, women, and even people who don’t smoke themselves. In fact, those deaths from the figure above include ones that are affected by secondhand smoke. However, women encounter unique challenges caused by the detrimental effects of smoking that men do not, largely due to the physical differences between males and females.
Smoking can affect a woman’s mental, physical, and reproductive health. Here are a few ways it can negatively impact you:
Smoking and taking the pill
Hormonal methods of contraception, such as oral contraceptives (“the pill”), contraceptive patches, and vaginal rings are generally safe, but women who smoke should be cautious about using them. Making use of these birth control methods while smoking can increase a woman’s risk for developing blood clots, which can lead to a stroke. Additionally, one’s risk for heart attacks can also increase.
This is because smoking cigarettes causes the blood vessels to tighten (vasoconstriction). This can lead to elevated blood pressure, which can be further exacerbated by hormonal contraceptives. If you are a heavy smoker and wish to take the pill, you’ll want to have your blood pressure checked at least twice a year, every six months.
Smoking and fertility
Women smokers who wish to have children now or in the future would do well to kick the habit immediately. The chemicals produced by smoking tobacco and tobacco-related products can alter the mucus in the cervix, making it less receptive to sperm and thus, harder to conceive. Additionally, smoking can decrease ovulatory response and makes it more difficult to fertilize and implant a zygote.
Smoking and pregnancy
There are plenty of good reasons why most women are advised to quit smoking when they’re pregnant. Toxic chemicals from smoking can pass from the mother to the fetus, which can increase the chances of the child being born with birth defects. It can also result in premature birth, or low birth weight in the child. These babies are also at higher risk of SIDS, or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
Problems can persist long after birth, too. Children born from women who smoked throughout their pregnancy are more susceptible to communicable infections, such as colds. They may also experience more respiratory problems, as well as earaches.
Smoking and menopause
All women go through menopause eventually, but you speed that timeline up when you smoke. Studies show that women smokers are 43% more likely to experience menopause before they turn 50 years old.
You may experience menopausal symptoms around 2 to 3 years earlier than you’re meant to from smoking. These symptoms include amenorrhea (not having your period), abnormal bleeding, and vaginal infections. Research shows that these may be caused by the toxic effect of smoking on the ovaries, as well as lowered levels of estrogen.
Smoking and your bones
One of the most common negative side effects of smoking in women is osteoporosis, a weakening of the bones to the point that they easily break. This is because smoking can decrease the supply of blood to the bones, as well as the production of osteoblasts, the cells that produce them. Also, smoking inhibits your body’s ability to absorb calcium, which is essential to building strong bones.
Smoking and cancer
Cigarettes and smoking come with no shortage of health warnings. By now, you should be well-aware that smoking can increase your risk for developing many cancers, including lung cancer, throat cancer, liver cancer, and so on.
For women smokers, the risk for breast cancer, cervical cancer, and vulvar cancer can increase exponentially. Tobacco and tobacco-adjacent products can damage the cervical cells; it also affects your natural immunity, making it more difficult for your body to combat HPV infections, a major risk factor for both cervical and vulvar cancers.
QUIT SMOKING WITH ZERO-NICOTINE DISPOSABLE VAPE PRODUCTS TODAY
Most of the negative effects of smoking in women are caused by the chemicals that find their way into your bloodstream when tobacco or tobacco-related products are burned. Chief among these is nicotine, which is a known vasoconstrictor.
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