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A Weighty Issue – Infertility and Weight

Understanding the link between infertility and weight

Among the things that a woman can do to optimize her chances of getting pregnant – either naturally or with help – is to maintain a healthy body weight.  Women who are either underweight or overweight have a lower fertility rate than normal weight women. This is the truth about infertility and weight.

A look at infertility and weight in the U.S.

The United States is currently experiencing an obesity epidemic. Over 60% of women are overweight. 33% are obese.  A patient with a body mass index (BMI) over 25 is overweight. A patient with a BMI over 30 is obese.  The association between infertility and weight appears to due to a hormonal imbalance. Having a higher insulin level can cause elevations in the male hormones. This disrupts the normal ovulation process.  However, even women who ovulate regularly and who have a higher BMI seem to experience a lower fertility rate.

Being underweight has an effect too

Conversely, having a low BMI (i.e. <18.5) is also associated with a lower fertility rate.  Though it is clear that underweight women who do not experience ovulation are at risk for infertility, even women who do experience more regular menstrual cycles may still have problems. This is another fact about infertility and weight.

It is important to be honest with yourself regarding your weight.  A BMI calculator can be easily found on the internet and can help you to assess your current weight status.  An optimal BMI for fertility (and health) appears to be between 18.5 and 25.  If you do not fall within this range, consider talking further with your physician about strategies to safely change your weight.  Even if you are not able to modify your weight to this range, even small changes in the right direction can make a major impact on your health and fertility! Contact us to learn more.

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