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Eating Disorders and Infertility

Eating disorders and infertility often go hand in hand

Eating disorders and infertility both affect millions of people, but that’s not the only link they share. Having an eating disorder, such as anorexia or bulimia, can make it more difficult to conceive. Unfortunately, patients can still experience fertility issues, even after receiving treatment for an eating disorder.

There is hope though. The Austin fertility doctors at Texas Fertility Center (TFC) offer treatments that can make parenthood possible.

Exploring the link between eating disorders and infertility

It might seem strange that anorexia and bulimia can make it more difficult to conceive. However, everything in the human body is connected. As such, a person’s caloric intake influences other bodily systems, including the reproductive system and the brain.

It’s common knowledge that eating fewer calories causes a patient’s body weight to decrease. When a woman loses too much weight, she will often stop having menstrual periods and ovulating. Without ovulation, a woman cannot conceive. This helps explain the link between eating disorders and infertility.

When a patient receives treatment for an eating disorder, her period will often return as she gains weight. However, having a period doesn’t necessarily mean that ovulation is occurring. In fact, a woman might not begin ovulating after reaching a normal body mass index (BMI). This is because the brain may not be releasing the hormones needed for ovulation. When this occurs, our Austin fertility doctors recommend pursuing treatment.

Exploring fertility treatment options for eating disorders

If you’re having trouble getting pregnant, an experienced fertility doctor can review your medical history and perform diagnostic testing. This information can help you and your doctor create a customized treatment plan to help you bring home a healthy baby.

When it comes to eating disorders and infertility, our Austin fertility doctors often recommend one or more of the following fertility treatments.

  • Fertility medications, in conjunction with timed intercourse or another treatment, can help women who aren’t ovulating regularly or at all.
  • Intrauterine insemination (IUI) can bypass several barriers to conception by placing sperm directly into a woman’s uterus.
  • In vitro fertilization (IVF) involves multiple steps to fertilize eggs in the laboratory before transferring a resulting embryo to the woman’s uterus.

Our goal at TFC is to start with the basics whenever possible. However, a patient’s situation will sometimes require our doctors to begin with an advanced treatment like IVF. For example, this may occur when a woman is older or has a diminished ovarian reserve (egg supply).

Get started on the path to parenthood with TFC

If you’d like more information about overcoming infertility after having an eating disorder, contact us for an appointment. Our team can help you explore the treatment options that can help you welcome a baby into your family.