Can Obesity Cause Infertility?

Can Obesity Cause Infertility?

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While obesity can cause a lot of problems before or during pregnancy, it should not be assumed that being overweight is the only reason for infertility. Read through to know more about the relationship between obesity and fertility.





Women have always been obsessed with weight loss, obese women even more so. A person who has more than 30% of the body tissue made of fat is considered obese. Most of us know that obesity causes heart diseases and health problems such as diabetes, but very few know that obesity in women can be a cause of infertility. The reason obese women have reduced chances of getting pregnant has to do with their ovulation, which is sometimes interrupted by excess fat. Here’s all that you should know about obesity leading to infertility in women.

Effect of Weight on Fertility

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), infertility is a common problem. 12% women between the age of 15 to 44 have trouble getting pregnant or carrying a pregnancy to term. There are various factors that contribute to infertility in women, like age, menstrual cycle, ovulation and even weight.




Fat Woman

Some of the effects of weight on the fertility of women are stated below.

  • Studies show that women with more than 29 BMI (Body Mass Index) unit are less likely to get pregnant. Women with BMI unit between 35 and 40 have a 23 to 43% less chance of conceiving as compared to those with BMI between 21 and 25.
  • Obesity causes hormonal imbalances in the body, which have a direct effect on the ovulation cycles in most women. Irregularity in menstruation and ovulation is a major cause of infertility in women.
  • Most women tend to accumulate fat in their abdominal area. Abdominal fat houses the androgenic hormones, which cause disruption in the ovulation process. Irregular ovulation makes it harder for women to conceive. While it is not yet proven that losing weight to achieve average BMI (18 to 25) can increase the chances of conception in women, the studies show that a moderate loss of even 5%-7% body fat can improve the chances of ovulation and regularize the menstruation.

The Link Between Obesity and Fertility

Excess weight can be linked to infertility in most, not all, women. But other than the inability to conceive, excessive weight can also cause problems such as:





1. Irregular Menstrual Cycles

Obesity affects the regularity of your menstrual cycle, as your body undergoes various hormonal changes that tag along with obesity. Once the menstrual cycle is disturbed, the ovulation period goes off track, increasing the chances of infertility in women. Thus, obesity is directly linked to infertility.

2. Little Success in Treatments

Obesity lowers the success rate of treatments such as IVF and further increases the complexities. It reduces the body’s response to IVF medication, thus reducing the number of eggs retrieved. Obese women face a higher risk of bleeding and injury during the process.




3. Increases Risk of Miscarriage

Before trying to conceive, obese women must lose weight to narrow their chances of miscarriage. Some studies that prove that obesity doubles the risk of women miscarrying.

4. Complexities and Health Issues

  • Obese women can get pregnant, but this pregnancy is often accompanied by many health issues, such as diabetes and high blood pressure. The occurrence of health issues during pregnancy poses a serious problem, both for the mother and the foetus, which often leads to complications in pregnancy and even at the time of childbirth.
  •  Fat cells store oestrogen and testosterone and produce sex hormones like estriol.
  •  High levels of hormones can cause infertility due to ovulatory and menstrual disturbances.
  • Losing 10% of weight also boosts fertility.
  • Once pregnant, obese women face health issues like missed abortions, miscarriage, preterm deliveries, pre-eclampsia, high blood pressure and the development of gestational diabetes mellitus.

WATCH: How Obesity Affects Chances of Pregnancy.





Key Takeaway: Weight is a factor that matters when it comes to fertility in men and women alike. Here’s what you should know about obesity and how it affects your chances of getting pregnant.

  • Fat cells store oestrogen and testosterone and produce sex hormones like estriol.
  • High levels of hormones can cause infertility due to ovulatory and menstrual disturbances.
  • Losing 10% of weight also boosts fertility.
  • Once pregnant, obese women face health issues like missed abortions, miscarriage, preterm deliveries, pre-eclampsia, high blood pressure and the development of gestational diabetes mellitus.

How to Get Pregnant When Obese

Pregnancy and obesity together are not a very healthy combination. As we now know that obesity causes various complications in pregnancy, it also has an impact on your child’s health and development. So here are a few ways that will help you get pregnant while obese.




1. Shed Abdominal Fat

Losing weight around the abdominal area is one way to get pregnant as the disruption in ovulation caused by the abdominal fat will reduce. This will help regularize your ovulation cycle, thus increasing your chances of conceiving.

2. Monitor your Menstrual Cycle

If your periods are regular and you’re under the age of 30, you can try conceiving on your own. Use kits at home to know when you’re ovulating and plan sex accordingly. In case of irregular menstrual cycles, it’s best to visit your fertility specialist at the earliest.





3. Test for PCOS

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is the most common reason behind irregular periods that lead to infertility in women. Obesity or consistent weight gain is also linked with PCOS. Women with this problem suffer from multiple cysts in their ovaries which produce large amounts of androgenic and oestrogenic hormones, preventing ovulation.

4. Lose Weight

Baby Supplies

If your weight is standing between you having a baby, you must take up weight loss seriously. Crash diets and hours of the gym are not the way to go about it. Simply switch to healthy food, avoid having junk from outside and start walking or jogging at least thrice a week. You’ll see the difference. Shedding just a few kilos is bound to increase your fertility.




5. Check Oestrogen Levels

Too much oestrogen in the body can cause a hormonal imbalance resulting in ovulation irregularities. Fat cells are known to produce oestrogen. So the more fat you have, the more oestrogen your body produces leading to infertility.

6. Test for LPD

Luteal Phase Defect (LPD) is largely associated with infertility and miscarriage. The ideal time between menstruation and ovulation is 14 days, making 12-16 days an average range. The luteal phase is the stage after ovulation when the lining of the uterus becomes thicker preparing for a possible pregnancy. With LPD, the lining does not grow which makes it difficult to conceive or sustain pregnancy in case one conceives.





7. Visit a fertility specialist

If you’ve been trying to conceive for a long time now and have had no luck, it’s best to get a fertility test. It’s advised to get your partner tested as well so that the specialist can point out to the problem area accurately. In such circumstances, seeking advice is always beneficial.

Being overweight doesn’t mean that you can’t get pregnant, but it does mean that your body will face difficulty in the process. It’s best to stick to a ‘healthy weight loss’ plan if you’re trying to conceive, visit your doctor and most importantly, stay positive. Good things eventually come along!