There is a direct relationship with body weight and fertility. The closer you are to your ideal body weight, more are the chances of normal fertility. You need to calculate your BMI – Body Mass Index based on your height and weight. If your BMI falls between 18.5 to 24.9, then it is in the normal range. Before planning pregnancy ensure that your body weight is in this normal range.
Does being overweight reduce my chance of conceiving naturally?
Yes. Frank obesity or being overweight impacts your body at a physiological level. Increased weight disturbs your hormonal balance in your body, that impacts the process of ovulation and the menstrual cycle. This eventually makes the menstrual cycle irregular hence impacting ability to conceive.
Other commonly affected issues like low level of thyroid hormone (Hypothyroidism), hypertension and diabetes also have a direct relationship with your body weight. Please visit your fertility doctor and get yourself tested for these common medical problems before you plan your pregnancy.
Does PCOS also cause weight gain ?
Obesity and PCOS usually exists together. There is a tendency to gain weight in PCOS and obesity makes PCOS worse, so it’s cyclic. It is important to know that PCOS needs to be approached from multiple angles, like improving ones diet, exercising regularly, taking some medication to regularize menstrual cycle. All of this when done together, usually improves the PCOS condition and eventually results in weight loss and a positive body image.
Will my IVF cycle success rate be low if I am overweight?
Yes. More the body weight, lesser the response of ovulation inducing medication that is commonly used for IUI or IVF Cycles as compared to a woman who has normal healthy body weight. This means that the quality as well as quantity of eggs retrieved during IVF could be impacted.
There have been many studies that is done to confirm the impact of body weight on ovarian stimulation, and most of the studies have confirmed that the IVF Success Rates are comparatively lower in women who are overweight.
This is the reason why your IVF Doctor will advise you to reduce your weight before starting your treatment.
I have heard that IVF drugs and injections make patients gain weight? Is it true?
No, absolutely not. This is one of the most common myths relating to IVF. Injections or medications that one uses for stimulation of ovaries (Ovarian Stimulation)do not cause weight gain. One logical reason behind a general tendency to gain weight during Infertility treatment could be the lack of exercise and physical activity and lack of controlled healthy diet by the patient. Patients usually think that they should rest and stop exercising during treatment without even consulting their doctor. This is never advised by most doctors. Except for very heavy duty weight training, which most patients do not do anyway, there is no reason to stop exercising.
Please ask your fertility specialist about permitted exercises and diet while undergoing treatment.
Does risk of miscarriage increase if you are overweight?
Yes. Many retrospective studies have shown that the risk of miscarriage during early pregnancy is higher in obese patients. Being overweight also causes more complications during the pregnancy. Some of the common issues usually seen in pregnancy of obese women are pregnancy induced hypertension,preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, preterm labouretc
Hence it is very important that you should try and ensure that your BMI is within normal range before planning pregnancy.
Does obesity in men also cause Male infertility? Does being overweight reduce sperm quality?
Yes. Obesity impacts men and women equally. Impact of obesity is seen in men in terms of low sperm count (Oligozoospermia) and low motility (Asthenozoospermia). Such abnormal semen parameters will have direct impact on fertility.
Obesity may also impact male reproductive hormones like testosterone which may result in disorder of sexual function as well as libido. This may have a direct role in causing infertility.
Obesity and poor lifestyle also has direct impact of sperm quality. One should try and maintain a healthy body weight if planning to start a family.
The views expresses above are by Dr. Gajendra Singh Tomar (MD, MRCOG) who is a leading Infertility Specialist from Indore (Indore Infertility Clinic). He has been practicing in Indore since last 18 years and has seen a steady increase in weight related fertility issues over the past decade.