Women and smoking

Cigarettes are associated with situations of conviviality and relaxation. It allows you to overcome a moment of stress, a bout of fatigue or a craving. This is how cigarettes become part of everyday life, and even though they are a source of pleasure, they are highly addictive. It can be very difficult to do without it. This addiction is all the more problematic because smoking increases the risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease. There are also specific risks for women. They are not sufficiently well known, even though today more than a quarter of women are smokers and their share of the smoking population has risen considerably in recent years.

Female smoking: specific risks

A woman's hormonal status provides her with some protection against cardiovascular disease (heart and blood vessel diseases). Tobacco reduces this natural protection. It promotes the formation of clots in the blood, damages the lining of the vessels and shrinks them. Smoking also doubles the risk of heart attacks. In women who use oral contraceptives (the pill), the risk of heart attacks is significantly increased. Finally, tobacco also interferes with the functioning of a natural female hormone (estrogen), which causes:
  • a decrease in fertility (non-smoking women who wish to have a child become pregnant more quickly after stopping contraception than smoking women);
  • an early menopause of about two years;
  • an increase in bone fragility leading to fractures after menopause.
Your general practitioner or gynaecologist can help you find answers to your questions.

The effects of smoking on the skin

Tobacco reduces the flow of blood and oxygen to the skin. This has several visible consequences: the skin becomes duller. it loses its suppleness. wrinkles are earlier and deeper. The effects are all the more obvious as the effectiveness of facial care is diminished by the action of smoking. Not smoking therefore contributes to slowing down the ageing of the skin.

Children and tobacco

Tobacco consumption by pregnant women carries several risks: increased proportion of miscarriages and premature births, lower average birth weight, increased risk of sudden infant death syndrome and ectopic pregnancy. Fortunately, pregnancy has been found to be the most important motivation for women to stop smoking, especially since quitting smoking is immediately beneficial. Smoking in the presence of a pregnant woman carries risks for her baby. Smoking in the presence of young children also promotes infections and allergies (bronchitis, ear infections, rhinopharyngitis, asthma). Finally, beyond these risks, studies show that parental smoking is linked to smoking in children. There are nearly a quarter more smokers among the children of smokers.

The point of view of a general practitioner

<< During my consultations, I have noticed that too many women are still unaware of the very specific risks of female smoking. A female smoker is not a smoker like any other and it is up to us, as doctors, to properly inform them. Choice of contraception, pregnancy, menopause are high points in a woman's life when the problem of smoking must be systematically discussed with the general practitioner. I have noticed that my patients are very receptive to this subject and that their motivation to stop is often stronger than that of men. >> The tobacco-pill combination causes circulatory problems, phlebitis and is an accelerator of ageing. Life without tobacco, when do you start? Every year. More than one in three smokers try to quit. Preventing specifically feminine risks, slowing down the effects of time on the skin, scheduling a birth, are good motivations for quitting. If you are suffering from withdrawal, you can benefit from appropriate pharmacological help: do not hesitate to talk to your doctor, gynaecologist, pharmacist or within the framework of a specialised smoking cessation consultation. If you don't succeed in quitting at first, don't despair. Keep in mind that it is never too late to quit and that in smoking cessation there are no failures, only delayed success.
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