Weight Management for Fertility

Being a healthy weight is important not only for overall well being, but studies show that it is important for fertility, the outcome of fertility treatments and a healthy pregnancy.

Overweight and underweight patients may notice that the imbalance has a significant impact on the hormones and menstrual cycles.

When trying naturally, weight gain may be correlated  with insulin and other hormonal imbalances resulting in incomplete or unusually timed ovulation.

When undergoing IVF or IUI studies show that moderately to significantly overweight women may have a lower response to the medications, less eggs retrieved, increased anesthesia risk, difficult procedure visualization and transfer which lead to lowered implantation and IVF success rates.

Being overweight or underweight is not by itself a cause of infertility, but can contribute to existing imbalances, and can also affect libido and sexual function.

For women, weight can affect ovulation. Fat cells store estrogen, and many women in our busy, stressful society already have an estrogen imbalance. When estrogen levels are too high, ovulation may be delayed or impaired. This can also contribute to issues with the luteal phase (the second half of the menstrual cycle).

Women with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) may especially benefit from weight loss. This endocrine disorder commonly causes issues with ovulation.

A 2016 study from the National Institute of Health tracked 187 women with PCOS who were all being treated with clomiphene (Clomid), a drug that induces ovulation. Women who received clomiphene alone had an ovulation rate of 44.7% and a live birth rate of 10.2%. In contrast, women who lost weight through diet and exercise, in addition to treatment with clomiphene, had an ovulation rate of 62% and a live birth rate of 25%.

While it can be difficult to balance losing weight with the stress of infertility, even small amounts of weight loss can be beneficial. Some doctors believe that losing even 5% of body weight can restore normal ovulation and lessen the need for fertility medication. Losing moderate amounts of weight before pregnancy also reduces the chances of complications such as gestational diabetes and lowers the chances of C-section. )))

The impact of being overweight affects hormonal balance and can impact sperm production negatively in men as well.

Being overweight is associated with the complications during pregnancy such as:

There are some associated risks of complications with overweight patients once they get pregnant:

  1. Higher risk of early pregnancy loss (miscarriage)
  2. Higher risk of anesthesia related complications during surgery
  3. Increased risk of pregnancy related hypertension, gestational diabetes, preeclampsia
  4. Delivery complications that may result from larger babies

Studies indicate that a reduction in BMI results in a significant improvement in fertility treatment outcomes and lowers the risk of pregnancy complications.