Overweight women are most likely to experience an underactive thyroid since the failure of the thyroid to function properly can lead to weight gain. Hashimoto's thyroiditis, the most common form of underactive thyroid, is five times more prevalent in women than in men.
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)
The NWHIC reports that between five and 10 percent of all women of childbearing age have PCOS, a complicated metabolism and hormone imbalance. Symptoms include infrequent or irregular cycles, acne, facial hair, high cholesterol, thinning hair, skin tags, and sleep apnea. PCOS is a leading cause of infertility in overweight women (and there is a higher incidence of it in overweight women), because the imbalance of male and female hormones makes it difficult to get pregnant.
Some women find they have both of these problems, creating a double whammy. Asking to be tested for both will offer you peace of mind about your own fertility.
Prenatal vitamins are an important start to a healthy pregnancy. Research lead by Dr. Martha M. Werler, DSc, an epidemiologist at Boston University, suggests that typical prenatal vitamins don't contain enough folic acid to provide protection against neural tube defects in the babies of overweight women. Dr. Werler discovered that at least 400 micrograms of folic acid a day (the government-recommended dose) reduced the risk of neural-tube defects by 40 percent for children of women weighing less than 154 pounds. However, this dose did not reduce the risk in heavier women. As a result, some physicians believe plus-size women should take additional folic acid supplements along with their prenatal vitamins to obtain full protection. Ask your physician whether a higher dose of folic acid is right for you.
Track Your Cycle
While trying to get pregnant can be a romantic and exciting proposition, there is a science to it, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Maximizing your cycles can mean getting pregnant more quickly. Start tracking your basal body temperature (BBT) each morning before you get up and learn how to read your chart results (essentially you're looking for a temperature drop, then an increase of at least .4 degrees, which indicates ovulation). Over-the-counter ovulation predictor kits are also valuable tools.