It is a known fact that smokers are more likely to have several health issues and diseases as compared to those who do not smoke. Some of the smoking-induced health issues are immediate, while some diseases develop with time.
Surely, cigarettes do harm all smokers in various ways. The effects of smoking are somehow different for both men and women. But some of smoking’s ill effects, such as ectopic pregnancy, premature menopause, increased risk of reproductive conditions and disorders are more in women. (Also Read: 10 Medical Issues Related to Women’s Health )
Below are some of the smoking-induced health issues that every female who smokes should be aware of.
Women smokers are more likely to have the following problems as compared to women who do not smoke:
- More irregular periods
- Painful periods
- Low estrogen levels, which can be responsible for fatigue, mood swings, and vaginal dryness.
- Early menopause (maybe with worse symptoms)
- Complications getting pregnant.
Smoking-induced health issues or diseases in women
Oral Contraceptives and Smoking
Female smokers who are on oral contraceptives are at the risk of serious consequences such as an increased risk of developing cardiovascular diseases including blood clots, heart attacks, and strokes. The risk increases with age and female smokers over 35 are advised to not use oral contraceptives.
A mild elevation in the blood pressure is often observed in females who are on contraceptive pills. However, the blood pressure often returns to normal levels once the oral contraceptives are discontinued.
Pregnancy and Smoking
Chemicals present in tobacco make their way from pregnant females to the fetus through their bloodstream. The toxic chemicals of tobacco are likely to cause serious risks to the unborn baby and also the mother-to-be.
Smoking during pregnancy can be responsible for miscarriage, preterm delivery, placenta previa, low birth weight, premature rupture of membranes, and neonatal death (when the baby dies within the first 28 days of life). Newborn babies born to mothers who smoked during their pregnancy have similar nicotine levels in their bloodstreams as adult smokers. Such infants go through a withdrawal phase during the first days of life.
Babies born to smoker-females have relatively lower immunity and suffer more from respiratory problems, colds, earaches, and illnesses and require more visits to a pediatrician than children born to nonsmoker females.
Infertility and Smoking
Many females today plan for childbirth in their 30s or even 40s, which can bring out fertility problems. Such issues are much more for smoking females. Females who smoke and delay childbirth are at a greater risk of future infertility or birth-related problems (for the baby).
The fact is that female smoker has about 72% more fertility problems than nonsmokers. Several studies have shown that there is a decreased ovulatory response, and the fertilization and implantation may be impaired in smoking females. Chemicals present in tobacco can also alter the cervical fluid, which can make the fluid toxic to sperm. This can make it difficult for the female to get pregnant.
Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) and Smoking
The risk of Pelvic Inflammatory Diseases is about 33 percent more in smokers than in nonsmokers. PID is a painful disease and is found to be a contributing factor in ectopic pregnancies, pelvic adhesions, and other fertility problems. Smoking has been associated with increased cases of PID.
Premature Menopause, Menstruation, and Smoking
Female who start smoking in their teens or early 20s increases the high risk of early menopause by 3 times. Other menstrual problems like abnormal uterine bleeding (AUB), amenorrhea (absence of periods), vaginal discharges, and vaginal infections are more common among females who smoke.
Early menopause and several other menstrual abnormalities may be caused due to lower levels of estrogens and toxic effects on the ovaries (which are more common in females who smoke).
Heart Disease and Smoking
On average, 34,000 deaths in females from ischemic heart disease are caused due to smoking every year in the US. Most of these deaths are in women after menopause, but, the risk of smoking-related heart disease is relatively higher among young women smokers. (Also Read: The Pathophysiology of Smoking and Heart Attack )
There is approximately 50 percent greater risk of heart attacks and other heart conditions in women smokers as compared to men smokers. This difference is thought to be due to the reaction of estrogen with the chemicals found in cigarettes.
Cervical Cancer and Smoking
Sexually active females are suggested to have regular pelvic exams and pap smears. For females who smoke, the necessity is even more. Several studies indicate that smoking can lead to the development of cervical cancer. Smoking females are at an 80 % greater risk (approximately) of having cervical cancer.
Breast Cancer and Smoking
A study was published by the American Cancer Society indicated that the risk of breast cancer is at least 25 % higher in female smokers. The risk escalates with the number of cigarettes smoked per day. This risk of breast cancer increases by 75 % for females who smoke up to two packs or more each day. (Also Read: What are the Symptoms of Breast Cancer? )
Vulvar Cancer and Smoking
Vulvar cancer is found to occur more frequently among females who smoke. Females who smoke are at a 40 % higher risk of developing this ruinous type of gynecological cancer.
Smoking is a very harmful habit and can cause several health complications and even death. After quitting cigarettes, the human body starts to naturally heal itself and over time, also regain the vitality of a non-smoker.
Quitting smoking decreases the risks of numerous diseases and health complications. It also improves the overall health of the individual. These factors are enough to quit smoking as an excellent choice towards achieving better health and improving the quality of life.