How is Quitting Different for Women?

Women face different challenges when quitting. Learning what makes quitting unique for women can set you up for smokefree success.

Everyone’s path to becoming smokefree is different. But, many women have similar challenges when quitting. Knowing what to expect can help you prepare to quit.

Triggers

Negative emotions and reminders of smoking are powerful triggers for many smokers. Some women are very sensitive to these types of triggers. This means that feeling stressed or sad can make it harder to quit and stay quit. Seeing or smelling a cigarette can also make you want to smoke. 

  • Learn how to handle the hard times without using cigarettes—it can help you avoid slips and stay smokefree.
  • Create an environment that will set you up for success by surrounding yourself with supportive people who want to help you become smokefree.

Worries About Weight Gain

If you’re worried about gaining weight after quitting, you’re not alone. Many women who smoke have this concern. Think about all the things quitting will do for you—like improving how you look and feel. Becoming smokefree can give you the confidence to reach other health goals. Don’t let worries about weight stop you from trying to quit. Make becoming smokefree your priority.

Remember: You can focus on quitting and still do other healthy things. Exercise is a great way to distract yourself from cravings and withdrawal symptoms.

Relationships

Relationships are important in reaching smokefree success—especially for women. Loved ones and partners can help you face challenges and celebrate milestones. But, being around people who aren’t supportive of your quit can lead to slips or relapses. Planning ahead will help you manage situations with the people in your life while you try to quit. 

  • Identify people who will support your decision to quit and ask them for help.
  • Take some space (temporarily) from people who don’t support your quit.
  • Buddy up with someone you are close with who smokes, and quit together. You’ll have a built-in support system—and someone who understands the challenges of becoming smokefree.

Being a Smoker

Many women worry that their life will change for the worse when they quit smoking. Some women who’ve quit return to smoking because they missed being a smoker. This might be because smoking, and being a smoker, became an important part of your life—especially if you’ve been smoking for a long time. Thinking about why you smoke and what good things happen when you quit, can help you mentally prepare to become smokefree.

Try this: Focus on the things that make you, you. Things that don’t include smoking or cigarettes. What do you care about? What are your passions? Remembering these things when you want a cigarette can help you stay smokefree.

Nicotine

Nicotine is the main addictive substance in cigarettes and other forms of tobacco. It affects many parts of your body, and up to 90 percent of people who smoke regularly are addicted to nicotine. Nicotine increases levels of dopamine—a substance that makes the body feel good. But, when you stop smoking‚ your body has to get used to not having nicotine. That’s called withdrawal.

More research is needed, but women seem to have a slight advantage when it comes to nicotine addiction. When you smoke, dopamine is released, and because dopamine makes you feel good, you start to think of smoking as a reward. This seems to affect men who smoke more than women. It might be the reason women are more likely to smoke when dealing with stress or managing their moods, and men are more likely to smoke because of nicotine-related triggers (like craving and withdrawal). Learning ways to cope with stress and bad moods can help you avoid a slip or relapse after you quit.

Quitting for Two

Many women successfully quit smoking when they’re pregnant or trying to have a baby. Some women go back to smoking before or after their baby is born. The stresses of parenting and dealing with the changes in your life, relationships, and body can make it hard to quit before, during, or after pregnancy. Quitting smoking—at any time—gives you and your child important health benefits. Preparing to quit while pregnant and staying smokefree after your baby is born will help you and your baby be happier and healthier.

Quit Attempts

The unique challenges women face may contribute to why they typically try to quit more times than men, before they quit for good. It might take you a few tries to become smokefree—and, that’s OK. Each time you try, you learn what does and does not work for you, plus you’ll be living healthier and one step closer to a life without cigarettes.

Explore Smokefree Women for ways to quit and to find information and free tools to support you on your smokefree path.