Effects of Obesity on Fertility

Effects of Obesity on Fertility

2nd June 2022

A vast proportion of people in modern times are obese. It is a rising epidemic impacting millions globally.

Overweight or obesity is defined by a high body mass. It is calculated by Body Mass Index (BMI), which is a reflection of body fat content.

An obese person can suffer from conditions that can harm his/her body and lifestyle.

Not only does it impact general health, but is also responsible for sexual health problems.

In addition, women who are undertaking reproductive therapy, have higher chances of conception, can have an adverse impact if they are obese.

In this article, we shall understand the link between obesity and fertility and how it can lay adverse effects on your ability to conceive.

What is considered obese?

As already mentioned, obesity is determined by BMI. To calculate your BMI, simply divide your weight in kg by your height in metres squared.

WHO Asian – BMI classification
BMI (kg/m^2) Nutritional status
Below 18.5 Underweight
18.5 – 22.9 Normal range
23.0 – 24.9 Overweight
25.0 – 29.9 Obese l
>30.0 Obese II
Effect of Obesity on Fertility

The link between fertility and obesity is complicated. Obesity can stimulate disturbance between the hormones that trigger ovulation and progesterone and estrogen levels.

Fat cells generally produce higher estrogen levels, which can work against your efforts when trying to ovulate.

This can cause you to experience less regular ovulation and menstrual cycles, making it harder for you to conceive.

Obesity in early adulthood seems to boost the odds of menstrual problems and infertility. Various changes in body weight are vital factors regulating pubertal development in young women.

Obesity around the abdomen (central obesity) is usually considered a higher risk factor for ovulation difficulties.

On the other hand, ladies who carry weight more proportionally or in their lower extremities are likely to have low risk. Those women may be genetically structured to have that body type, while central obesity is often the result of lifestyle and habits.

How obesity may affect your pregnancy?

A high BMI during pregnancy can increase the risk of several pregnancy complications, including:

  • Heart problems
  • Sleep apnea
  • Gestational diabetes
  • Stillbirth, miscarriage and recurrent miscarriage: Obesity can lead to poor quality of eggs or ovum, which can result in defective implantation. This increases the rate of miscarriages and thus, lowers successful pregnancy rates.
  • Obesity can augment the failure rates of successful pregnancy even after using artificial methods such as stimulation of ovulation and assisted conception.
  • A pregnancy complication characterized by high blood pressure and symptoms of damage to another organ system, most often the liver and kidneys (preeclampsia)
  • Risk of C-section complications, like wound infections
How to promote a healthy pregnancy?

If you are an obese woman, implement the following practices to limit the adverse impact on your pregnancy.

  • Exercise regularly: Discuss with your health care provider about the various possible ways to stay physically active during your pregnancy, such as swimming, jogging, walking or low-impact aerobics.
  • Consume a nutritious diet: Seek the help of a registered dietitian to work on a diet plan to maintain your health and prevent excessive weight gain. Remember, during pregnancy, you require more protein, folic acid, iron, calcium and other vital nutrients.
  • Avoid dangerous substances: If you smoke or drink, ask your health care provider to help you quit. Illicit drugs are off-limits, too. First, get approval from your health care provider before you start or stop taking any medications or supplements.
  • Seek consistent prenatal care: Prenatal visits can better aid your doctor to monitor your health. Convey your problems with your health care provider, like diabetes, high blood pressure or sleep apnea, and discuss what you can do to control them.
  • Book a preconception appointment: Before you consider pregnancy, consult your health care provider. Your doctor may recommend a daily prenatal vitamin and refer you to other specialists, such as a registered dietitian, who can help to achieve a healthy weight before you conceive.
Final words

Obesity is a global phenomenon hampering the reproductive health of many. It can seriously impact a woman’s ability to have children.

Having a BMI of 30 or higher can increase the risk of infertility complications for you. Work with your health care expert on how to achieve a healthy weight to lower the need for assisted reproductive techniques so that can you can conceive naturally.

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