Obesity and Fertility

April 25, 2018

When a person has a body mass index of 30 or higher, they’re said to be obese. It is a medical condition wherein the buildup of excess fat in the body negatively affects the individual’s health. Obesity is becoming more and more common nowadays, due to the kind of lifestyle people are living. It also depends on factors such as genes and less physical activity.

One of the most common ways to tell if you’re obese or overweight is by measuring your body mass index (BMI). This can be calculated by dividing your weight in kilograms by the square of your height, measured in metres. If your BMI falls between the range of 18.5 to 24.9, you are healthy whereas if it lies between 25 to 29.9, you are overweight. Obesity is when the BMI lies above 30.

With these lifestyle changes, many women are experiencing infertility, due to obesity. It is clear that being overweight has an effect on your chances of getting pregnant and having a healthy child. The link between obesity and fertility is quite direct. Research has been conducted on how male obesity, as well as female obesity, is associated with fertility.

Insulin resistance is the result of obesity, which can cause anovulation i.e. when the woman’s body does not produce eggs each month. Insulin resistance due to obesity can also cause hormonal imbalance. It is observed that infertility due to anovulation is higher in women who are obese as compared to those with a normal BMI. Anovulation in obese women is most likely due to PCOS (Polycystic ovarian syndrome), which is a condition where cysts are found in the ovary and the production of male hormones increases in the woman’s body.

Common complications of pregnancy such as preeclampsia and gestational diabetes can develop due to obesity. With obesity, the chances of a miscarriage increase and a successful pregnancy can become difficult to achieve. This is because of various reasons such as poor quality of eggs or a change in the level of hormones. If the egg gets implanted defectively in the womb, due to insulin resistance, then such a situation could also lead to a miscarriage.

If you’re using assisted reproductive technologies like in vitro fertilisation and you’re obese, the rate of failure of these techniques is very high.

In our body, the expenditure of energy and the intake of food is controlled by a protein called leptin, which is produced by the fatty tissue. It is also responsible for regulating reproductive function in our body. When the intake of food exceeds the energy expenditure, body weight increases, leading to obesity and hence, infertility.

Obesity in men can also affect fertility as it causes a decrease in the level of testosterone, estrogen and FSH (follicle stimulating hormone). This, in turn, leads to a decline in sperm count as well as its quality.

You can improve your chances of conceiving by losing excess weight. This will lead to a decline in hormonal imbalance and other effects of obesity. Maintaining a well-balanced, healthy diet and exercising regularly can help you lose weight and improve your fertility.

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