Ganesh (name changed), a good-looking IT engineer with a handsome salary believed he was settled for life when he married a well placed girl. But four years down the line and in spite of many attempts, the wife was not able to conceive.

A visit to the doctor and many investigations later the wife was found to be healthy and capable of becoming pregnant.

Ganesh, though healthy in all other respects, was the one who could not father a child at the age of 31.

He was found to have a very low sperm count.

Chain smoking

This was attributed to his chain smoking, a habit that he developed when he was 16 years old.

In spite of advanced treatment that went on for over two years, the couple could not have a baby. They are now on the look out for a sperm donor.

Rare case

According to gynaecologists, this is not a lone or rare case.

This trend is becoming more pronounced as couples are willing to undergo investigations, unlike earlier times, which reveal such findings.

What is troubling the medical fraternity is that such cases are common among upper middle class and educated men who are aware of the ill-effects of tobacco use.

Passive smoking

They are also not able to convince the men that passive smoking has a bearing on the fertility in women.

C.V. Kannaki Uthraraj, Director, The Fertility Center, Kovai Medical Center and Hospital, says that tobacco smoke and its products reach the growing egg and reduce the fertilising ability of the egg.

Cotinine, an index of nicotine has been found in the ovaries of passive smokers.

“Smoking, combined with regular consumption of alcohol, caffeinated beverages, recreational drugs, and exposure to pollutants in water, air and food, aggravate the condition.

Infertility due to tobacco use is not only a medical condition.

It often leads to marital discord with the wife blaming the husband and the man not able to give up the habit,” she says.

Even one cigarette a day can kill a number of sperms. “No tobacco” is the only way to stay clear of its ill-effects, she adds.

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