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Weight and Obesity When Trying To Get Pregnant

Healthy Diet Fertility

a blog by Jane Frederick, M.D., HRC Fertility, March 25, 2014

Weight can seriously affect a couple’s chance of getting pregnant. Twelve percent of all infertility issues are weight related and being overweight or underweight has unique consequences for men and women. The goal of fertility specialists is to understand the relationship between weight and infertility with each fertility patient and then work to eliminate non-disease factors. Obesity impacts conceiving naturally and your IVF treatments.

Obesity has also and has been associated with the following:

  • Early pregnancy loss after IVF
  • Decreased pregnancy rate
  • Decreased fertilization
  • Higher gonadotropin requirements
  • Impaired response to gonadotropins.

When reviewing fertility issues, couples must factor in the length of time they have been trying to conceive, their age, weight and lifestyle. Many factors contribute uniquely to each patient and couple. There are a significant number of obese women who suffer from fertility issues. This could be because of irregular periods and frequently anovular (non-ovulatory) menstrual cycles. A large percentage of obese patients suffer from PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) a disorder commonly associated with obesity.

Fertility and pregnancy is different for each person, it’s important to know your options when working to conceive naturally or through treatment.

Below are some tips on what couples should look for when trying to conceive:

  • Maintaining a healthy body mass index (BMI) is one of the most helpful things you can do to enhance your fertility
  • Women with BMI's that were either above or below the normal range were more likely to produce immature eggs during cycles
  • Overweight men can have lower sperm counts or low sperm viability
  • Incorporate daily exercise into your routine. It can not only help you conceive, but prepare your body for pregnancy

Although the exact mechanisms of how obesity affects fertility are not well understood, there is an apparent insulin-mediated hyperstimulation of ovarian steroid production and decreased sex hormone-binding globulin.

If patients make lifestyle changes and cannot conceive they should visit a doctor. Physicians can then work to determine infertility diseases and the next steps with treatment. One partner may require weight loss and one may require fertility enhancing drugs. Finding the right balance is every specialist’s goal. It is important to remember that couple’s conceive at all weights and sizes, the most critical aspect is being healthy for your body size and working with a fertility specialist accustomed to various conception issues.


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