Can Pregnancy Hormones Lower A Smoking Woman's Desire For Nicotine?

Upon getting pregnant – here are some signs to know you're pregnant – certain hormone levels go through the roof. And while all of those hormones are there to help the pregnancy along, those surging hormones can do a real number on your body. Progesterone and estrogen go up right away, and your body starts making human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), per Today's Parent. Higher progesterone can lead to constipation, fatigue, and mood swings, VeryWell Family notes. Then there's morning sickness, which researchers have theorized is linked to the rise in hormones. The hormone surge levels out more so by the second trimester, but that doesn't mean that the road smooths out completely. 

Along with adjusting to the physical and emotional changes during pregnancy, the list of things you should and shouldn't do when you're pregnant is pretty long. Soft cheeses, sushi, cocktails, they all should be avoided when you're pregnant, Healthline notes. Another big no-no is smoking. But do all those pregnancy hormones help smokers quit? Before they even know they're pregnant? Researchers with Northwestern Medicine have done the first study on pregnant smokers to try and find out.

Pregnant people stopped smoking the most when hCG levels were high

In a study of 400 pregnant smokers, published in Addiction Biology, researchers found that before they knew they were pregnant, pregnant people reduced smoking on average by one cigarette per day. Dr. Suena Huang Massey, lead author on the study, explains the significance of their findings and outlines potential next steps: "While recognition of pregnancy is a common motivation to reduce or quit smoking, if biological processes in early pregnancy are also involved as suggested by this study, identifying precisely what these processes are can lead to the development of new smoking-cessation medications," the study indicates, per Northwestern. The researchers found a potential connection in smoking cessation specifically with human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), which is highest between the fifth and 10th week of pregnancy. Overall smoking rates went down the most when hCG was highest.

Smoking during pregnancy can cause premature birth, damage to the baby's brain and lungs, and birth defects, according to the CDC.