When the DNA material of your sperm is damaged, your chances of fertilization decrease. Even if you were able to impregnate your partner, a sperm cell with damaged DNA material can cause developmental abnormalities in the fetus. It can even increase the likelihood of a miscarriage.
Unfortunately, cigarette smoking can result in a high number of sperm cells with damaged DNA. Chromosomal aberrations, as well as gene alterations in your spermatozoa, can occur as a result of tobacco consumption. Continue reading to find out about the deleterious effects of cigarette smoking on your sperm DNA.
Contents of Cigarette Smoke
There are actually thousands of hazardous compounds found in cigarette smoke. Of these, around 400 are classified as toxic, and more than 50 compounds are cancer-causing. Some of the harmful compounds found in cigarette smoke include mercury, cadmium, and lead.
These three heavy metals have toxic effects on your reproductive system. In fact, the negative effects of cadmium, lead, and mercury on sperm parameters have been well-documented. These toxic heavy metals can also cause a lot of damage to the cells in your testicles, thereby negatively affecting your testicular functions.
Due to the numerous toxic compounds found in cigarette smoke, tobacco consumption is strongly associated with high concentrations of reactive oxygen species and high levels of oxidative stress. In addition, the harmful chemicals contained in cigarette smoke can also cause an inflammatory reaction in your genital tract.
Sperm DNA Material
One of the functions of your sperm is to transport your DNA material to the egg cell. Within your sperm, your DNA is packaged by special proteins called histones. The packaged DNA material is referred to as the chromatin.
Your chromatin needs to remain tightly condensed and the sequence of the DNA material within the chromatin also needs to be maintained. When the chromatin becomes loosely packed, it can lead to DNA fragmentation. When the sequence of the DNA material is altered, it can lead to aberrations in the chromosome.
Before your spermatids become fully mature spermatozoa, they go through morphological changes which also includes a remodeling of your sperm chromatin. However, when there’s a high level of oxidative stress in your sperm, it can have adverse effects on this sperm chromatin remodeling process.
Sperm DNA Damage Caused by Smoking
There are tests to measure the integrity of your sperm DNA. The DNA fragmentation index or DFI tells you how many of your sperm cells have damaged DNA material. The high DNA stainability or HDS index, on the one hand, tells you what percentage of your sperm contains immature chromatin.
Fertile men who smoke typically have higher DFI and HDS compared to fertile men who don’t consume tobacco. This means that even if you’re fertile, you will most likely have a lot of sperm cells with damaged DNA and immature chromatin if you’re a smoker.
Infertile men who smoke have even worse DFI and HDS scores. That’s because infertile smokers tend to have a high percentage of sperm with fragmented DNA. This is mainly due to their elevated reactive oxygen species levels, which cause damage to the sperm DNA material.
Aside from the fact that sperm cells of smokers usually encounter more oxidative stress, cigarette smoking also causes a reduction in the antioxidant capacity of men who smoke. This means that if you’re a smoker, your body produces a lot of oxidative stress-causing compounds but you don’t have enough antioxidants to fight oxidative stress.
Other than causing DNA fragmentation, cigarette smoking can also increase the number of your sperm with round heads. The sperm head is supposed to be oval, and this shape is necessary for the sperm cell’s ability to fertilize the egg.
A sperm cell with a round head will be less effective in dissolving the egg cell’s outer surface. Heavy smokers and long-term smokers tend to have higher rates of sperm with abnormally shaped heads.
Sperm Parameters Impaired by Cigarette Smoking
Cigarette smoking can adversely impact your sperm parameters. Numerous studies have compared the sperm parameters of smokers versus non-smokers. It has been repeatedly shown that those who smoke cigarettes have lower semen volumes, poorer sperm motility, as well as lower sperm counts as compared to non-smokers.
In addition, the effects of smoking on sperm concentration has also been found to be dose-dependent. This means that for men who smoke, their sperm concentration decreases as their tobacco consumption increases.
Cigarette smoking is also closely tied to reduced sperm density. The ejaculate volume of smokers also tends to be less than that of non-smokers. The percentage of sperm with abnormal shape or size is also higher in men who smoke.
Superoxide dismutase levels, an antioxidant enzyme, are lower in smokers. The adverse effects of smoking on superoxide dismutase levels are also dose-dependent. This means that men who smoke heavily have lower antioxidant activities in their sperm. This leads to a reduction in sperm motility and an increase in abnormal sperm morphology rates.
Improve Your Sperm Health
If you have a history of cigarette smoking, you can ameliorate the effects of smoking on your sperm health by quitting smoking and increasing your antioxidant levels. This is why supplements like vitamins C and E are very important for male fertility. Increasing your intake of foods that are rich in antioxidants can also help improve your sperm health.
Another way for you to improve your fertility is by taking a natural male sex enhancement supplement that contains antioxidant-rich herbs. This contains Tribulus terrestris and maca which are both known for their high antioxidant content. It also contains horny goat weed, damiana, Butea superba, muira puama, and L-arginine.
Partly because they improve your antioxidant capacity, both Tribulus terrestris and maca can help improve your sperm motility and increase your sperm count. Aside from maca and Tribulus terrestris, it also contains Tongkat Ali, another herb that has been shown to greatly enhance sperm production.
It isn’t just a fertility enhancer. It’s also an excellent sexual performance booster. The herbal ingredients contained in it can help raise your testosterone levels, increase your drive for sex, and enhance your erectile function.