Obesity is a disorder that involves excessive body fat, it not just increases your weight but also increases the risk of other underlying conditions. Obesity tends to give rise to several other health conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular issues, high blood pressure, sleep apnea and even infertility. Infertility can be defined as the inability or failure to conceive children due to reproductive issues faced by a male or female. Where this reproductive condition affects people around the globe, the cause of this condition could be different for every individual. It is important to know that obesity plays a very significant role when it comes to infertility and it affects both the genders. Let us get right into this article and learn more about what obesity is, how it affects fertility in men and women along with ways to overcome this condition with our expert Dr. Indira Hinduja, Honorary Gynecologist, IVF and Infertility specialist, P.D Hinduja Hospital & MRC, Mahim, Mumbai.
What is Obesity?
Obesity is measured in the form of BMI, the Body Mass Index. This BMI is calculated with the help of weight and height of a person. Anything upto the BMI 25 is considered to be normal but the BMI that ranges between 25 to 30 is considered to be overweight whereas beyond 30 it is termed as obesity. Obesity is a much bigger problem in developed countries instead of the developing and underdeveloped nations. This happens due to lack of physical activities due to technological advancements and easy access to transportation. A person's diet and lifestyle has a major role to play in causing this condition of obesity.
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Also Read: 7 Tips To Deal With Childhood Obesity
According to WHO report, almost 1 billion people are overweight globally whereas 320 million people are obese worldwide. This condition is so serious that about 3-4 million people lose their lives due to several health issues related to obesity. This is a grave issue but can be treated and tackled without any medication or surgery. Apart from infertility, obesity is also associated with diabetes, blood pressures, heart disease, heart attack and malignancy as well. Uterus cancer is another severe condition that can be associated with obesity.
Relationship Between Obesity & Infertility
Most importantly there are social problem that obese people face. In some cases, it may even impact psychological well being, leading to stress. This eventually results in infertility as stress tends to disturb the body system along with the hormonal levels that contribute to blood pressure issues and heart diseases.
As far as female infertility is concerned, it mainly depends upon the menstrual cycle. The menstrual cycle indicates the development and quality of the eggs which are under the control of hormones. These hormones are mainly controlled by three major organs in the body:
- Pituitary gland
Where hypothalamus manages the pituitary gland, the pituitary tends to manage the ovaries that are responsible for release of the eggs which are important for fertility.
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In men the hypothalamus, pituitary, testis, development of the sperm and release of sperms is also known as ejaculation. This cycle does get disturbed due to obesity. The condition of obesity is related to the release of hormones from the pituitary gland. This hormone, known as gonadotropic, helps in the growth of follicle, brings it to the maturity of the egg and then allows it to burst. As the follicle is released, it gets collapsed and tends to form a corpus uti. This collapsed follicle releases another hormone that provides nutrition to the egg, sperm and the embryo. Accurate cycle of hypothalamus, pituitary and ovaries is required for the growth and rupture of the follicle along with the release of egg and hormonal secretion to act on the uterus in order to provide a cozy bed for the embryo and the required nutrition.
All the necessary hormones tend to get affected due to obesity and hence the cycle gets disturbed. This disturbance in the reproductive cycle due to obesity can lead into many complications such as -
- Disturbed ovulation that impacts the quality of egg.
- Uterus doesn’t prepares a proper bed for the embryo
- The implantation of the embryo is not adequate.
- The baby might not get adequate nutrition
- Baby does not grows very effectively
- Might result into early abortion
- Increased chances of miscarrage
- The child born might not be normal
Almost every stage of pregnancy and childbirth gets affected due to obesity starting from irregular periods, to disturbed ovulation and distubed fertilization to disturbed implantation, growth of the baby and it might also result in premature delivery and miscarreage. The treatment for this is to lead a healthy and active lifestyle.
(With inputs from Dr. Indira Hinduja, Honorary Gynecologist, IVF and Infertility specialist, P.D Hinduja Hospital & MRC, Mahim, Mumbai)