Throughout the Internet and even in Quitbit’s own community, we’ve heard the same question time and time again: can quitting smoking affect periods? Although not a lot of hard science has looked into this question, in this post we’ll cover if quitting smoking can change women’s menstrual cycles.
Smoking And Female Hormones
It’s no surprise that smoking is fairly bad for the human body and affects a whole range of different bodily functions. It turns out that smoking actually changes the hormonal levels that are responsible for periods as well. Studies have shown that in pre-menopausal women, smokers have elevated levels of estrogen, progesterone and various androgens . Shockingly, smoking has even been suggested to increase testosterone production in women, which may lead to greater fat accumulation around the hip and waist .
Smoking And Periods
Although very little research has been done around how smoking affects the menstrual cycle, we can take an educated guess based on its effect on hormones involved. Picking up in the middle of the menstrual cycle, an increase in estrogen levels triggers a sharp rise in Luteinizing Hormone from the pituitary gland, causing release of the egg from the follicle. The ruptured follicle now secretes progesterone and estrogen. If the egg is not fertilized, then hormone levels drop and the period begins.
These same hormones are affected by smoking. Estrogen and progesterone are closely linked to start and end female menstrual cycle so changing their levels will affect the period as well. It’s our judgment that quitting smoking will change your hormonal balance and may very well affect your periods. Some people may have shorter, longer, earlier or later periods. Many women have discussed the change in periods after quitting smoking on message boards across the Internet as well . So rest assured if your period is a little bit different when you quit smoking.
And as always, if you’re concerned you should contact your doctor and schedule a visit, as this blog is no substitute for medical advice :).
- Windham GC, Mitchell P, Anderson M, Lasley BL. Cigarette Smoking and Effects on Hormone Function in Premenopausal Women. Environmental Health Perspectives. 2005;113(10):1285-1290. doi:10.1289/ehp.7899.
- Pölkki M, Rantala MJ. SMOKING AFFECTS WOMENS’ SEX HORMONE–REGULATED BODY FORM. American Journal of Public Health. 2009;99(8):1350. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2009.163485.