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Lose Weight for Fertility or IVF

In the fall of 2011 at the annual Canadian Fertility and Andrology Society meeting in Toronto, fertility doctors debated whether a woman's body mass index (BMI) should dictate whether she could receive in vitro fertilization (IVF). Several studies have shown that obese women face higher risks of medical complications — such as gestational diabetes, preeclampsia and miscarriage — while trying to become pregnant through IVF.

The Canadian fertility doctors called for a ban on women whose BMI is over 35 (a BMI of 30 is considered obese). The British Fertility Society and fertility societies in Sweden and New Zealand already recommend withholding IVF for obese women.

In addition, results from a study that was published in the journal Human Reproduction showed that even being slightly overweight decreased the chances of IVF success and increased the chances of miscarriage. British researchers found that women classified as "overweight" (a BMI between 25 and 29.9) had a 24 percent extra risk of miscarriage compared with a normal pregnancy and a 9 percent lower chance of having a baby. For "obese" women, the risk of miscarriage was increased by 40 percent and chance of a live birth cut by 20 percent.

What Is BMI?

BMI is your body mass index. The number is calculated from a person's height and weight. While it does not measure body fat directly, research has shown that it does correlate to direct measures of body fat, such as underwater weighing.

A BMI below 18.5 is considered underweight. From 18.5 to 24.9 is considered health weight. From 25.0 to 29.9 is considered overweight, and 30 and above is obese.

You can calculate your BMI by using the BMI calculate on the National Institutes of Health website.

Lose Weight to Improve Chances of Conception

According to this video of Laurence Jacobs, M.D., a fertility doctor with Fertility Centers of Illinois (FCI), women who are overweight or obese have higher insulin levels that interfere with hormone production and can contribute to miscarriages and ovulation disorders.

If you are overweight, try to lose weight before trying to get pregnant or undergoing a fertility treatment. Losing weight will help normalize hormone function, which can help regulate ovulation and reduce the risk of miscarriage. This is good for both spontaneous pregnancies and those created via IVF.


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