How Quitting Helps Women’s Health

Quitting smoking has many benefits for your physical and emotional health. Learn how quitting can improve your health now and in the future.


Physical Benefits of Quitting

Within 20 minutes of quitting, nicotine starts to leave your body and it begins to heal. You’ll get some of these benefits right away. Quitting also improves your health in the years ahead and greatly reduces your risk of smoking related illness. 

It’s never too late to quit—no matter your age or how long you’ve been smoking. But the earlier you quit, the better. Learn what quitting can do for your body. 

Healthier Blood, Heart, and Lungs

  • You’ll breathe easier. Within two weeks of quitting, you might notice it’s easier to walk up the stairs because you’re less short of breath.
  • Your "smoker's cough" starts to go away. You might cough more than usual when you first quit. But, this is a sign that the cilia in your lungs are growing—they’re one of the first things in your body to heal after you quit. 
  • Quitting can prevent permanent damage to your lungs. Scarring of the lungs is not reversible. But, if you do have lung disease (like COPD) quitting can prevent symptoms from getting worse.
  • The oxygen in your blood rises to a normal level. This will make it easier for your heart to pump blood to important parts of your body. 
  • Your heart rate and blood pressure lower. This puts less stress on your heart and lowers your risk of heart disease, including heart attacks. 

Stronger Body

  • Quitting can keep your bones strong and healthy. Quitting can reduce the risk of fractures now and later in life. This is important because both women and smokers are more likely than men and nonsmokers to get osteoporosis (a disease when your bones become weak and more likely to break).
  • Your immune system will become stronger. When you have a strong immune system, you’ll be less likely to get sick. 
  • Your muscles will become stronger and healthier. Quitting smoking will help increase the availability of oxygen in your blood, and your muscles will become stronger and healthier. 

Changes You Can See

  • Your skin will look healthier. Quitting can help clear up blemishes and protect your skin from premature aging and wrinkling. It will also help wounds heal better. 
  • You’ll have a cleaner mouth. Quitting will make your teeth brighter and gums healthier. Your breath will also smell better.  
  • Quitting can reduce belly fat and lower your risk of diabetes. If you already have diabetes, quitting can help you manage your blood sugar levels. 
  • Your sense of taste and smell will improve. When you quit you’ll taste foods better and you’ll smell things like foods, flowers, and other scents better.

Fewer Fertility Problems and Pregnancy Risks

  • Your estrogen levels will gradually return to normal. Low estrogen can cause many problems, such as dry skin, thinning hair, and mood swings.
  • Quitting smoking will increase your chances of having a healthy pregnancyWomen of a childbearing age who quit smoking are less likely to have problems becoming pregnant. You’ll also lower your risk of certain pregnancy complications that can harm you and your baby, like preeclampsia and placenta previa. 
  • Quitting now will increase your chances of having a healthy baby. Quitting at any time during your pregnancy lowers your risk of having a miscarriage. Quitting smoking also gives your baby benefits, like lowering their risk of being born too early, having certain birth defects, or dying from SIDS.  

In the long run you can lower your chance of:

  • Heart disease. Heart disease can lead to heart attacks, chest pain, and stroke. Within 10–15 years of quitting smoking, your risk of heart disease may be the same as non-smokers.
  • Stroke. The longer you are smokefree the more your risk of stroke goes down. Within 5–15 years of quitting, your risk of stroke may be the same as non-smokers.
  • Lung cancer. The longer you are smokefree the more your risk of lung cancer goes down. Within 10 years of quitting, your risk of dying from lung cancer will have decreased by half. 
  • Dying early. People who smoke die about 10 years earlier than people who don’t. Quitting can lower your risk of dying from smoking related illness and diseases.

If you have been diagnosed with cancer it is not too late to benefit from quitting. 

  • Patients with some cancers increase their chances for survival if they quit when they are diagnosed with cancer.
  • For those having surgery, chemotherapy, or other treatments, quitting smoking helps improve the body’s ability to heal and respond to therapy. You will be less likely to develop pneumonia or respiratory failure. 
  • Quitting smoking may also reduce the chances that the cancer will recur (come back), that another cancer will develop, or that you will die from the cancer.

Emotional Benefits of Quitting

Quitting can improve your quality of life and boost your mood. After you become smokefree you will experience many positive changes. Below are some things you may experience after quitting.  

  • You’ll feel more in control of your life. Being smokefree means that you won’t have to plan your life around smoking, worry about finding places to smoke, or worry about bothering others. 
  • Your hair, clothes, home, car, and breath won’t smell like smoke anymore.
  • You’ll have more money.
  • You’ll have more energy to walk, play with your kids, or be active.
  • Your loved ones will be proud of you.
  • You’ll feel empowered and proud of your success.