Menopause and Smoking


Rebecca is 52 and she is starting a new phase in her life. Excited to be on her own as her children are moving out. She plans on taking activities that interests her and which had taken a backseat for many years due to responsibilities. As she is entering this new phase of life, she is observing certain health issues. Rebecca is having irregular periods, experiencing hot flashes and trouble sleeping. She finds herself irritable and cranky.

If this is your story too or if it's relatable to your loved ones, we are here to answer. This is what is termed as the menopausal phase which is a totally normal part of ageing. It is to be understood that menopause is not a disease or disorder. Some lucky women don’t have any trouble transitioning into menopause but for others this can lead to hot flashes, depression, irritability, lack of sleep and painful coitus. Consulting a physician during this phase can help as they will put you on medications and advice on maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

Source: National Institute on Aging 

What is menopause?

Menopause marks the end of your periods known as menstrual cycles. A year without getting menstrual cycles is diagnosed as menopause. Every woman experiences it and it is part of our biological process. It may strike you from your 40s to 50s. Common symptoms associated with menopause are hot flashes, trouble sleeping, mood swings and irritability.

There is this time known as perimenopause which is just before the menopause, where women start showing signs and symptoms similar to menopause.

Source: Mayo Clinic other 


  1. Irregular Periods, Hot Flashes, night sweats and Irritability
  2. Dryness of vagina, lack of sleep, weight gain due to slower metabolism
  3. Dryness of skin, thinning of hair and loss of breast fullness
  4.  Irregular or skipped periods during perimenopause

Source: Mayo Clinic

Smoking increases the risk of early menopause

The percentage of women that are affected with early menopause in Western countries is roughly around 5-10%.1 Early menopause is the cessation of ovarian function leading to increased risk of osteoporosis, cardiovascular disorders, premature mortality and other adverse health problems.2 Smoking effects on the timing of menopause as cigarettes impact the ovarian ageing and follicle reserve.1 Smoking has a negative impact on ovarian germ cells by influencing gonadotropins and sex steroids. There is quite a trend to delay childbearing and experiencing early menopause can be tragic, fertility usually declines during the 10 years leading up to natural menopause.

Cigarette chemicals induce the death of ovarian cells

Smoking can have serious health effects on women going through menopause. Women who smoke are more likely to experience premature menopause, with symptoms such as hot flashes and night sweats occurring earlier than normal. Smoking also increases the risk of heart disease, stroke, and osteoporosis. Additionally, it can cause a decrease in the number of ovarian follicles, leading to a decreased production of oestrogen. This can cause a woman to enter menopause at an earlier age. Unfortunately, the effects of smoking on oestrogen levels may be permanent, meaning a woman may experience premature menopause even after she quits. Other risks associated with smoking include an increased risk of breast cancer, as well as a decrease in fertility due to the death of ovarian cells. All of these effects make it clear that smoking is not a safe option for women experiencing menopause.

The toxic chemicals in the cigarettes are nicotine, with its metabolite, PHAs and heavy metal cadmium mostly related to smoking induced ovarian toxicity.3

Oestrogen is synthesised in ovaries

Oestrogen is a hormone which is produced in the ovaries and plays an important role in the reproductive development of women. Oestrogen is mainly produced by the ovaries, although the adrenal gland and fat cells produce smaller amounts of this hormone.

The different functions of oestrogen are: in the ovaries, oestrogen helps the growth of egg follicles; in the vagina, oestrogen helps to maintain the thickness of vaginal wall; in the uterus, oestrogen maintains the flow and thickness of uterine mucous secretions;and in breasts, oestrogen helps in the formation of breast tissue.

Source: MedicalNewsToday

Death of ovarian cells -> no oestrogen -> menopause

Smoking can have a serious impact on menopause. Studies have shown that smoking leads to a quicker onset of menopause, typically occurring two years earlier than in non-smokers.1 This is due to the death of ovarian cells caused by smoking, which leads to a decrease in oestrogen production and a decrease in reproductive hormones thus leading to early menopause.

Tips for quitting smoking

Studies have shown that women usually smoke due to stress or as a result to suppress their appetite to lose weight. Nicotine patch and gum are good alternatives for men but for women as they smoke due to external situations it is far more difficult for them to quit. Thus, a nicotine patch and gum will help the nicotine cravings, but it will not improve or manage stress.

Things women can try to quit smoking:

  1. Behavioural techniques including exercising, reducing stress and non-nicotine suppression medicines
  2. Quit smoking around your menstrual cycle
  3. Preparing for the weight gain that is going to follow after quitting smoking can help. Positive reinforcement that the extra weight will fall off with diet and exercise
  4. Rehabilitation group: Talking to people who are going through the same phase or even friends, family or spouse can help

Source: SEARHC


Smoking can have a serious impact on menopause. Studies have shown that smoking leads to a quicker onset of menopause, typically occurring two years earlier than in non-smokers. This is due to the death of ovarian cells caused by smoking, which leads to a decrease in oestrogen production and a decrease in reproductive hormones. Smoking also increases the risk of hot flashes, vaginal dryness, and osteoporosis during menopause. Other risks associated with smoking and menopause include increased risk of heart disease, stroke, and cancer. Therefore, it is important for women approaching menopauses to quit smoking in order to reduce the risk of experiencing any of these adverse effects.


  1. Whitcomb BW, Purdue-Smithe AC, Szegda KL, Boutot ME, Hankinson SE, Manson JE, Rosner B, Willett WC, Eliassen AH, Bertone-Johnson ER. Cigarette smoking and risk of early natural menopause. American journal of epidemiology. 2018 Apr 1;187(4):696-704.
  2. Wellons M, Ouyang P, Schreiner PJ, et al. Early menopause predicts future coronary heart         disease and stroke: The multi-ethnic study of atherosclerosis. Menopause 2012;19(10):1081–1087.
  3. Budani MC, Tiboni GM. Ovotoxicity of cigarette smoke: A systematic review of the literature. Reproductive toxicology. 2017 Sep 1;72:164-81.

Tasneem Kaderi


Tasneem is a dental practitioner since 5 years in India. She is also a Medicolegal consultant plus Hospital and Healthcare Administrator since 2 years. She has a diploma in Clinical Research and Pharmacovigilance and is working as a Data Analyst for Medical Devices at 3Analytics, California. An avid reader and optimist at heart, loves to scribble here and there. presents all health information in line with our terms and conditions. It is essential to understand that the medical information available on our platform is not intended to substitute the relationship between a patient and their physician or doctor, as well as any medical guidance they offer. Always consult with a healthcare professional before making any decisions based on the information found on our website.
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