Smoking & Women’s Health: Learn the Facts

Tobacco smoking, in particular, cigarette smoking, remains the leading preventable cause of death among American women and poses one of the most significant threats to public health.

11 Harmful Effects of Smoking on Women’s Health

Smoking also causes the following health problems for women who smoke:

  1. Decreased bone density
    Women who have gone through menopause and who smoke have lower bone density. This means they have a higher chance of breaking a hip than women who do not smoke.
  2. Rheumatoid arthritis
    Women who smoke are more likely to get rheumatoid arthritis (RA). RA is an inflammatory, chronic disease. People with RA have swelling and pain in their joints.
  3. Cataracts
    Women who smoke are more likely to get cataracts that affect their vision.Cataracts are an eye disease where the lens of the eye is cloudy or foggy.
  4. Gum disease
    Smoking is linked to gum disease, which may lead to bone and tooth loss.
  5. Ulcers
    Smokers with gum disease are also more likely to get ulcers in the stomach, which can lead to death.
  6. Surgery
    Smokers have worse survival rates after surgery. They’re also more likely to have complications and poorer wound healing than non-smokers.
  7. Depression
    It is important for women to know about the link between smoking and depression because women are more likely than men to be diagnosed with depression.
  8. Menstrual problems
    Some studies show that women who smoke have more irregular or painful periods.
  9. Menopause
    Smokers are more likely than non-smokers to go through menopause at a younger age, and they may have worse symptoms of menopause.
  10. Pregnancy
    Women who smoke may also have a harder time getting pregnant. They also have a higher chance of losing their baby before it is born. Studies show there is an increased risk of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome, also called “crib death”) in babies born to women smokers.
  11. Breathing
    Teen girls who smoke have lungs that don’t grow as much as non-smokers’ lungs, and adult women who smoke have lungs that don’t work as well as non-smokers’ lungs.

Quitting is the best thing you can do for your health. Use the CDC’s Quit Guide to quit smoking today.


How Does Smoking During Pregnancy Harm My Health and My Baby?

Most people know that smoking causes cancer, heart disease, and other major health problems. Smoking during pregnancy causes additional health problems, including premature birth (being born too early), certain birth defects, and infant death.

  • Smoking makes it harder for a woman to get pregnant.
  • Women who smoke during pregnancy are more likely than other women to have a miscarriage.
  • Smoking can cause problems with the placenta—the source of the baby’s food and oxygen during pregnancy. For example, the placenta can separate from the womb too early, causing bleeding, which is dangerous to the mother and baby.
  • Smoking during pregnancy can cause a baby to be born too early or to have low birth weight—making it more likely the baby will be sick and have to stay in the hospital longer. A few babies may even die.
  • Smoking during and after pregnancy is a risk factor of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). SIDS is an infant death for which a cause of the death cannot be found.
  • Babies born to women who smoke are more likely to have certain birth defects, like a cleft lip or cleft palate.


What Are the Benefits of Quitting?

Quitting smoking will help you feel better and provide a healthier environment for your baby.

When you stop smoking—

  • Your baby will get more oxygen, even after just one day of not smoking.
  • There is less risk that your baby will be born too early.
  • here is a better chance that your baby will come home from the hospital with you.
  • You will be less likely to develop heart disease, stroke, lung cancer, chronic lung disease, and other smoke-related diseases.
  • You will be more likely to live to know your grandchildren.
  • You will have more energy and breathe more easily.
  • Your clothes, hair, and home will smell better.
  • Your food will taste better.
  • You will have more money that you can spend on other things.
  • You will feel good about what you have done for yourself and your baby.

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Share With Women: Smoking and Women’s Health: Tips on Why and How to Quit


Sources: Centers for Disease Control & Prevention and Women.Smokefree.Gov

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