Warning: Vaping May Also Put Women's Fertility at Risk

The CDC has come down hard on vaping. It now advises against smoking e-cigarettes at all. But this is especially true if you're thinking about getting pregnant, now or in the future, according to a new study published in the Oxford Academic Journal of the Endocrine Society, that warns to ditch your trendy e-cigarette and nix vaping now, more than ever.

"Overall, the concern is that vaping leads to inhalation and circulation of toxins that can affect the eggs in the ovaries and cross the placenta to affect a developing fetus," says Paula C. Brady, M.D., Assistant Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Columbia University Irving Media Center.

She says it's already well documented that cigarette smoking negatively affects ovarian reserve, reduces the age of menopause, and is associated with lower bone density. Plus, nicotine affects fetal growth, and smoking is associated with sudden infant death syndrome.

During the study, mice were exposed to e-cigarette vapor for several months, leading the researchers to discover that the fertility of the females drastically declined. It's not known if these same effects may be more severe in humans, due to different environmental, health, and genetic factors. "Animal studies, like this one, suggest that nicotine may affect fetal neurologic development," says Dr. Brady, who is also a Reproductive Endocrinologist at the Columbia University Fertility Center.

Women often assume that an electronic pen is safer than a traditional cigarette because you're not inhaling smoke, and because advertisements have boasted that e-cigarettes are a "clean" option, but that may not be the case. "The misconception is that vaping is somehow 'cleaner' or that vaping may not contain the same toxic contaminants as cigarettes, but undoubtedly contains unstudied chemicals, oils, and heating elements that we are only learning about now," Dr. Brady says. "E-cigarettes contain nicotine, which is addictive and has known negative effects in pregnancy, so the primary drug is the same and dangerous."

While vaping is a relatively new technology, research has already pointed to an outbreak in lung diseases linked directly to the use of an e-pen. "The acute lung injuries increasingly reported with vaping highlight that we do not actually know what is in many of these vaping solutions, so cannot even begin to quantify the risk," Dr. Brady says. "That's alarming."

"The study suggests that e-cigarettes appear to affect signaling pathways involved in uterine receptivity and the ability of an embryo to communicate and adhere to the uterus, leading to fewer (or no) embryos attaching to the uterine lining," Dr. Brady explains.

The Bottom Line

"The recommendation is to avoid vaping all together until the toxin is identified and eliminated from vape solutions," says Dr. Brady, and avoid nicotine in all its forms: cigarettes, e-pens, and second-hand smoke.