When it comes to quitting smoking, men and women are not created equal. Research suggests that male and female brains respond differently to nicotine. This may explain why men and women have different smoking patterns and quit experiences. Although they are probably not aware of it, men tend to smoke for the “nicotine rush,” while women more often smoke in response to stress and for the calming effects.
For anyone quitting smoking, it’s important to understand your specific triggers, how smoking affects your body, and how you’ll plan ahead to cope with the challenges of quitting smoking. Ladies: read on for useful information to help understand your quit journey.
Women may have a harder time quitting smoking than men
The research is still mixed on this topic. But a recent study of more than 1,000 smokers who had attempted to quit within the past 2 months found that women had 33 percent lower odds of successfully quitting than men. A gender gap also existed among the 694 smokers attempting to quit without smoking cessation medication.
Women worry about weight gain
Women fear gaining weight more than men when quitting smoking. The more cigarettes smoked per day, the more weight you may gain after quitting. However, the average person who quits smoking gains between 4 and 10 pounds. While you may gain some weight, it’s important to look at the bigger picture: the health benefits from quitting smoking far outweigh any weight gain.
You can help manage weight gain with healthy eating and exercise. Find a healthy lifestyle buddy to help you stay on track. You can share healthy recipes, shop together at the farmer’s market, and make weekly dates to exercise.
Women tend to smoke to relive stress
Many women have a lot on their plates, juggling home and work life, which can naturally lead to stress. As you prepare for your quit journey, develop a plan for how you’ll manage stressful situations instead of reaching for a cigarette. Consider some of these stress relief techniques:
- Practice breathing techniques Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. A few long, slow breaths can help your body relax.
- Take a walkIf the heat of the moment is getting to you, step away for a few minutes. Get your legs moving and your mind off of the problem.
- Talk to a friendDuring your quit journey, turn to your supporters–that’s what they’re there for. Whether it’s a stressful situation at work or with your kids, sometimes just letting it out to a kind listener can be a source of relief.
Women have so many benefits of quitting smoking
When you quit smoking, you can look forward to reducing your risk of many serious illnesses, including heart disease and lung cancer. Lung cancer has surpassed breast cancer as the leading cause of cancer deaths among women. But within 10 years of quitting smoking, your risk of dying from lung cancer is cut in half.
For women of childbearing age, quitting smoking can also reduce the risk of infertility and decrease the chances of premature birth, birth defects, and infant death.
If you’re looking for other incentives for quitting, there are plenty of those as well: you may look forward to a brighter smile, your clothes and breath no longer smelling of smoke, and you may have more energy.
As you can see, you have so much to gain by quitting smoking. So what are you waiting for? Start planning ahead and finding the support you may need on this journey. First, talk to your healthcare provider about quitting smoking and voice any concerns you may have. Round up a support team that can help have your back on this journey. And look forward to your new healthy, smokefree future!