Weight and FertilityA significant deviation from your normal body weight, whether overweight or underweight, can cause infertility in both women and men. In fact, one study suggests that 12% of primary infertility is due to weight issues. Studies also show that abnormal weight can reduce the chances of success with assisted reproductive procedures.
Body fat is related to the amount of hormones your body produces. So if you have too much or too little body fat, your body may produce too much or too little hormones, which interferes with your ovulation and menstruation. Specifically, your body fat affects the production of , which is essential for regular ovulation in women and the production of sperm in men. GnRH in turn triggers the release of luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), both critical to the development of eggs and sperm.
For women, very low weight can decrease GnRH production, which can result in irregular ovulation or a complete stop to ovulation. Too little GnRH can affect the development of the uterine lining and its receptivity to the implanting embryo. For men, low weight could lead to decreased sperm count or function.
Being overweight can also lead to an abnormal hormonal signal, impacting ovulation and possibly sperm production. It can cause an overproduction of insulin, which may result in irregular ovulation. There is also a link between obesity, excess insulin production and the infertility condition known as . In fact, PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome), one of the more common causes of infertility, has been connected to trouble with gaining and subsequently losing weight. In other words, the very thing that is causing fertility problems may also be why you’re having trouble losing weight or maintaining a healthy BMI. If a PCOS diagnosis is made, treating the PCOS can help with the weight problem. Women with PCOS who have been treated with Glucophage (metformin), an insulin resistance medication used off label in the treatment of PCOS, may have an easier time losing weight while on the drug, than without.There are number of diseases associated with obesity and one of them is being infertile. Obesity has also been associated with an increased risk of early pregnancy loss. In order to judge overweight or obesity BMI [Body Mass Index] is measured. BMI is calculated with the formula. Weight [in kilos] divided by height [in meters] squared. A high BMI indicates obesity. BMA 25-29.9 indicates overweight, whereas BMI over 30 indicates obesity.
A healthy return to normal body weight will often reverse hormonal irregularities, thereby restoring fertility. Not only that, but normal body weight is also the healthy way to prepare for pregnancy. Whether you have to shed or gain some pounds, changes in weight should be made before getting pregnant, since drastic changes can be detrimental to your developing baby. If the cause of obesity is related to PCOS, the use of insulin sensitizing drugs may be needed in addition to dietary changes.
Following fertility issues and pregnancy complications are associated with obesity.
Fertility issues with obesity:
- Irregular or infrequent menstrual cycle
- Increased risk of infertility
- Increased risk during fertility surgery
- Increased risk of miscarriage
- Decreased success with fertility treatments.
Potential pregnancy complications with obesity:
- Increased risk of high blood pressure
- Increased risk of diabetes in pregnancy
- Increased risk of birth defects and high birth weight infant.
- Increase risk of cesarean section.
Benefits of weight loss includes:
- Weight loss of 5-10% may dramatically improve ovulation and pregnancy rates.
- Improved health including reduced diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease.If you are overweight (BMI over about 28) and having trouble getting pregnant, try to lose weight. If you have irregular menstrual cycles (anovulation or irregular ovulation) and you are overweight, weight loss might make your cycle regular - thereby making you more fertile.
If you are obese (BMI of 30 or higher) and need IVF, you might have a significantly improved chance for success if you reduce your weight before going through the procedure.