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Being Underweight Affects Fertility

Much research and attention is focused on how being overweight affects your fertility. Excess weight is linked to conditions such as polycystic ovarian syndrome and insulin resistance, which can cause problems when trying to conceive.

But being too thin can be just as damaging as being too fat. Underweight women often have irregular periods and produce low levels of estrogen. They are at risk for anovulation, which can affect their chances of conceiving naturally.

but a hormone deficiency is not the only problem involved with being underweight and a successful pregnancy. Being underweight can affect your chances of a successful in vitro fertilization (IVF), too, according to a 2011 study.

Researchers from the Advanced Fertility Center of Chicago conducted the study of 2,362 cycles of IVF involving women under age 40. They found that women who were underweight (body mass index of between 14 and 18) had a 34 chance of delivering a health baby, compared to healthy or slightly overweight women with a BMI of 19 to 28 (50 percent chance) and very overweightand obese women with a BMI of 29 to 43 (45 percent).

It is unclear why being too thin has this effect in IVF, as the woman uses fertility drugs to stimulate ovulation. However, Richard Sherbahn, M.D., who conducted the study, says that it is possible, in evolutionary terms, that being too thin may mean the body does not think it is the best time to reproduce. There may also be differences in the womb's receptiveness to an embryo depending on a woman's weight.

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