Weight and Fertility

Weight and Fertility


How Does Weight Affect Fertility in Women?


Many underweight, overweight and obese women have no problem getting pregnant, but some might have problems conceiving, most often due to ovulation problems (Failure to release eggs from the ovaries).

Being underweight often causes irregular menstrual cycles and may cause ovulation to stop altogether. Underweight women should work with their doctor to understand the cause of this situation, and develop strategies to correct it.

Obesity may also lead to irregular menstrual cycles and ovulation. However, even obese women with normal ovulation cycles have lower pregnancy rates than normal weight women, so ovulation isn’t the only issue. A visit to a health-care professional before becoming pregnant can help identify other disordersrelated to obesity that can impact pregnancy such as thyroid disease, insulin resistance and diabetes.


Does Obesity Affect the Chance of Getting Pregnant With Treatment And Having a Healthy Baby?


There is good evidence that obesity lowers the success rates of In Vitro Fertilization (IVF).  Studies have shown lower pregnancy rates and higher miscarriage rates in obese women. Obese women are at an increased risk for developing pregnancy – induced (Gestational) diabetes and high blood pressure (Pre – eclampsia).  Obese women also have a higher chance of delivering by cesarean section. Children of obese mothers are at increased risk of some birth defects and having high birth weight.


Are There Fertility Problems in Men With Obesity?


Obesity in men may be associated with changes in testosterone levels and other hormones important for reproduction. Low sperm counts and low sperm motility (movements) have been found more often in overweight and obese men than in normal-weight men.


Should I Try to Decrease My Weight If I Am Obese Before I Try To Get Pregnant?


You should first consult with a healthcare provider. He or she will consider all factors, including your age and any other infertility factors before making a recommendation about whether you should try to lose weight first.


I Have Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) And I Am Overweight, Will I Need To Do Anything Different?


PCOS is very common condition in young women. Not all women with PCOS are Overweight or obese, but many women with PCOS have signs of insulin resistance and/or obesity. A low-calorie diet and exercise may lead to weight loss, regular menstrual cycles and ovulation. However, women with PCOS may require additional treatment to get pregnant, including medications to decrease insulin resistance. These women should seek the assistance of an infertility specialist