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How Being Overweight Affects Fertility

It’s no surprise that a mother’s general health influences the ease and success of her pregnancy, and physical condition can play a role even before conception. Whether you’re a woman or a man, being overweight can have a negative effect on fertility. If you’re planning to start a family, changing lifestyle habits toward healthy eating, increased physical activity, and ultimately achieving a healthy body mass will generally aid fertility, pregnancy, and the best start for your new baby. Let’s look at how high body mass can complicate your ability to conceive.  

Healthy body weight

The body mass index (BMI) is a convenient way to quickly assess the health of your body weight-to-height ratio, using the formula of your weight in kilograms divided by the square of your height in meters. There are many free BMI calculators available online and most work with pounds and feet/inches, automatically converting to give the correct results. You can also find BMI calculators that incorporate your age and gender into the equation.

An ideal BMI is typically considered between 18.5 and 24.9. Below that range, you’re underweight, and above it, you’re overweight. When your BMI exceeds 30, you enter the obese range. When it comes to fertility, this is where you may encounter the most trouble.

Polycystic ovary syndrome

Obesity complicates the processing of hormones in a woman’s body, which in turn may create problems with ovulation. Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is closely associated with both obesity and infertility. PCOS is a hormone disorder that frequently causes infertility, particularly for obese women trying to achieve their first pregnancy. Nearly one in five women of reproductive age can be affected by PCOS and being overweight increases your risk. Early diagnosis, treatment, and lifestyle adaptation can often resolve fertility issues brought on by PCOS.

Lower sperm counts

Male fertility also suffers if you’re carrying extra weight. A study of about 1,600 Danish men showed that those with a BMI of 25 or greater had both lower sperm concentrations and sperm counts. In addition, the overweight group showed a greater percentage of abnormal sperm, those unlikely to reach and fertilize an ovum.

Pregnancy and complications

If you’re overweight and you do conceive, there are still increased risks of challenges and complications ahead of you. Some of the pregnancy risks associated with obesity include:

High BMI and effects on your child

Babies born to mothers who are overweight or obese are more likely to have weight problems in their own lives. The risks of needing neonatal care are higher, as are the risks of congenital abnormalities. These children also face an increased risk of developing other health problems later in life.

What you can do

Losing weight can be difficult, but there’s no secret to the process. Even if you’re seeking fertility assistance through Innovation Fertility Preservation & IVF, you can help your chances with even modest weight loss. Adopt healthy eating habits and add physical activity to your routine, and you’ll not only become more likely to conceive, you’ll be better prepared for the rigors of pregnancy and chasing your future toddlers around.

Dr. Oktay

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