Infertility and obesity

Obesity has been traditionally linked to several health conditions, including cardiovascular disease, hypertension, diabetes and infertility.

But how does obesity cause infertility? Does obesity raises risk of miscarriage? The issue of obesity and reproduction is complex, and fertility specialists are only beginning to understand it.

Multiple studies show that pregnant women who are overweight and given to greater change in body weight during the first trimester of pregnancy are more likely to have lengthier and more complicated deliveries.

In addition, according to a recent survey done in UK, more than a third of overweight and obese women had a miscarriage compared with one in five of normal weight women.

Obesity and infertility have been linked together by several studies. But what is the precise relationship between obesity and female infertility? And why do women who are obese have a greater risk of fertility and other pregnancy-related problems?

What is obesity and what it could lead to?

A person is defined as being obese if thirty per cent of her body weight is made up of fat tissue. Obesity results in an increased production of estrogen; this in turn interferes with ovulation, which of course, is the basis of successful conception.

obesity and fertility

Obesity and women’s fertility are strongly related. New study from the UK, suggests a linkage between women’s body weight and their ability to conceive and carry a pregnancy to term.

Overweight women undergoing fertility treatment have double the risk of miscarriage of normal weight women, a UK study says. Obesity poses a greater risk to both maternal and fetal health during pregnancy.

Studies show that obesity is associated with adverse consequences like malformation, still birth, gestational diabetes, and the need for a cesarean delivery.
Women who have had a miscarriage earlier are at a greater risk of having one again, if they are obese. Women who are overweight should be counseled regarding the benefits of weight loss.

They should lose weight before embarking on a pregnancy, to minimize risk of a miscarriage. This should be done under the guidance of a doctor or nutritionist. Women with BMI of over 35 have more than double the risk of a miscarriage.

Previous research has shown that women who conceive naturally are also at a higher risk if they are overweight. Obesity is a known risk factor for ovulation problems, but it also contributes to infertility in women who ovulate normally.

Treating Obesity:

There are many options available in treating obesity, such as:

  • Diet modification: Avoid foods that are high in saturated or trans-fats or that are high in sugar. Enrich your diet with whole grains, vegetables, fruits and lean sources of protein
  • Regular physical exercise: Even moderate forms of exercise, such as walking or low-impact aerobics, can lead to healthy weight loss
  • Gastric bypass surgery: Many people who are obese turn to surgery in order to reduce their appetites. However, this method is risky and highly expensive.