Q&A: What effect does obesity have on fertility?
I'm overweight. Will this make conception impossible, or dangerous?
According to research, being overweight can affect your ability to become pregnant. It could also lead to complications in your pregnancy and for your baby. Once pregnant, if you are overweight you are at risk for hypertension (high blood pressure), gestational diabetes, Cesarean section, and having a large baby.
As many as 10 percent of women have a condition known as polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), and most women with PCOS are overweight. PCOS is a major cause of infertility, in large part because an excess of male hormones disrupt the normal cycle. Women suffer varying degrees of PCOS, but typical symptoms besides obesity include a history of infrequent ovulations and prolonged cycles (greater than 35 days), excess hair growth or male-pattern hair loss, multiple ovarian cysts, and acne.
A study done at the University of Adelaide in Australia on body mass index (BMI) and infertility treatments reported that being underweight or overweight has an adverse effect on reproduction. Overweight women, however, have a higher incidence of menstrual dysfunction and anovulation. The study did find that fertility treatments could help.
If at all possible, getting your weight into a healthy range (lowering your BMI) will improve your overall health, increase your chances of getting pregnant without intervention, and provide you with a better chance of a healthy pregnancy with a positive outcome. Talk to your doctor about your concerns. Making changes in diet and lifestyle will help. Start a walking program; increase your intake of fruits vegetables and whole grains. If you are significantly overweight, talking with a nutritionist to help you formulate a plan will increase your chances of success!