Before discussing weight and fertility, how do you determine whether you are underweight, normal weight, overweight, or obese? One of the easiest ways is to calculate your body mass index (BMI). Your BMI is an estimate of your body fat based on height and weight that applies to adult men and women. A BMI less than 19 is considered underweight while a BMI between 19 and 24 is considered normal. A BMI between 25 and 29 is considered overweight and a BMI greater than 30 places you in the obese category. There are a number of online calculators that will tell you your BMI; all you need to enter is your height and weight. Remember, the BMI is an estimate and it’s not perfect. It may overestimate body fat in athletes and others who have a muscular build and it may underestimate body fat in older persons and others who have lost muscle.
Can weight affect fertility in women?
Many underweight, overweight, and obese women have no problem getting pregnant, but if they are having a hard time conceiving, it can be related to weight. For example, women who are underweight can have irregular menstrual cycles and may not ovulate at all. The same is true for obese women and menstrual cycles. Interestingly, even obese women with normal ovulation cycles have lower pregnancy rates than normal weight women, so ovulation isn’t the only issue. There are also changes to hormone levels in the blood and changes to the lining of the uterus that can account for lower pregnancy rates in obese women.
How does obesity affect success rates with fertility treatments and having a healthy baby?
There is good evidence that obesity lowers the success rates of fertility treatments, especially with In Vitro Fertilization (IVF). Studies have shown lower pregnancy rates and higher miscarriage rates in obese women. Obese women also have increased risks of developing pregnancy-induced diabetes, high blood pressure in pregnancy, needing a cesarean section, and having a baby with high birth weight or birth defects.
What about men? Can obesity cause sperm issues?
Yes! Male obesity can cause changes in testosterone levels. Overweight and obese men can also have lower sperm counts and poorer sperm motility (movement).
I am having problems getting pregnant and I am obese or underweight. What should I do about my weight? Wait to get pregnant?
If you are having a hard time conceiving, you should make an appointment with a fertility doctor. They will be sure to consider all factors, including your age and any other infertility factors, before making a recommendation about whether you should try to lose weight first. They also can help identify other disorders related to weight issues including thyroid disease, insulin resistance, and diabetes.
Fertility Nutrition in Orange County
Reproductive Health and Wellness Center offers several fertility treatments to help couples and individuals get pregnant. Part of what makes us the best fertility center in Orange County, is our whole body approach to fertility care, by combining medical science with wellness solutions. Such as our custom tailored fertility diet plans by our in house registered dietician.