How being overweight impacts fertility

One of my coaching clients was told she needed to lose weight by her specialist to increase the chances of falling pregnant while doing IVF. She’d come to me to help her shift the extra weight and boost her chances of having a successful transfer.

During our recent session I asked her if she knew the reason behind why she had to release the weight? She didn’t know, only that it would help.

I know for me, when I’m aware of why I’m doing something, I’m more likely to follow through and stay motivated. So if you’re also in the same situation as my client, then read on.

When we look at couples who use IVF to conceive, it’s been shown women who are overweight or obese have a lower chance of a live birth and significantly higher miscarriage rate than women with a normal BMI.

But this applies to everybody however you conceive your baby.

So why does being overweight and obese such a weighty issue when it comes to FERTILITY?

Being overweight impacts a woman’s chance of conceiving a healthy baby because it:

  • Causes hormonal imbalances
  • Triggers problems with menstruation and ovulation
  • Increases risk of complications with pregnancy such as a miscarriage, diabetes or premature birth

How?

When we have excess fat, these fat cells produce a hormone called leptin that can disrupt the hormone balance and impacts the menstruation cycle.

Another reason, in a study of 726 Australian women aged 26-36 years old, they found the women who were considered obese were significantly associated with having irregular menstrual cycle which was influenced by the high amount of insulin in the blood and decrease levels of sex-hormone-binding globulin (a protein that is responsible for regulating androgen and estrogen).

In other words, insulin can disrupt the hormone balance and impacts the menstruation cycle.

When your menstruation cycle is impacted, this reduces fertility as it’s difficult to track or know if or when you’re ovulating.

Now get this, excess weight and obesity also increases the risk of anovulation which is when no egg is release by the ovaries and if this happens, fat chances of you getting pregnant (mind the pun.) Women with a BMI above 27 are three times more likely than women in the normal weight range to be unable to fall pregnant because they’re not ovulating.

Now if you’re overweight or obese and are ovulating, the truth of the matter is that the quality of your eggs are also reduced!

Which explains why being overweight impacts a woman’s chance of conceiving a healthy baby due to increased risk of complications with pregnancy such as a miscarriage, diabetes or premature birth.

so what can you do about it?

According to IVF Australia, a “healthy BMI range is between 18.5 to 24.9 for young and middle-aged adults. Under 18.5 is considered underweight and over 25 is overweight. If a woman’s BMI is greater than 35, the risk of problems become more significant.”

If you suspect your overweight or obese and is affecting your fertility, then let’s find out what your BMI is:

Click here to calculate your BMI

overweight or obese?

It can seem a bit overwhelming to hear some of the facts on how being overweight and obese impacts fertility but there is good news.

If you have clicked on the link above to checked your BMI and realised that you fall in the category of being overweight or obese, you have the power to change this, just like my client is doing right now.

The good news!

According to IVF Australia here are a few things you can start doing now:

  • Stopping smoking, as it reduces fertility by around 40%, and also increases the risk of miscarriage
  • Reducing alcohol and caffeine intake
  • Optimising weight by following a healthy diet and exercise routine
  • For a female, taking folic acid, ideally for three months prior to trying to conceive, as it is one of the few nutrients known to prevent neural tube birth defects such as spina bifida
  • Managing known conditions, such as diabetes. This improves the chances of a healthy baby, and reduces the risk of miscarriage
  • Reviewing current medications and any implications for pregnancy with a GP
  • Understanding your menstrual cycle

As an Integrative Health Coach, my role is to support my clients to make those diet and lifestyle changes so they can start balancing their hormones naturally and increase their chances of falling pregnant.

If you feel you need support, then apply to book in for a free hormonal health and fertility assessment.

Photo by Negative Space

References:

  • https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21885344/
  • https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12551775/
  • https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1038/oby.2008.641
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5265624/
  • https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8173001/
  • https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15140873/
  • https://www.ivf.com.au/planning-for-pregnancy

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