How Obesity Affects Women's Fertility: 5 Points

An obese woman has a much lesser chance of getting pregnant than someone of normal weight.

Shubhangi Shah
Written by: Shubhangi ShahPublished at: Mar 04, 2022Updated at: Mar 04, 2022
How Obesity Affects Women's Fertility: 5 Points

Obesity is a condition in which your body stores excess fat. It deteriorates the quality of life of the individual on one hand and makes him/her prone to multiple health issues on the other. Heart diseases, stroke, type-2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, breathing problems, body pain, osteoarthritis, and even depression, are some of the conditions he gets prone to. As of 2016, there were 650 million obese adults in the world, as per the World Health Organisation. The world health body had previously said that obesity has reached epidemic proportions globally. Hence, to raise awareness on it, March 4 is observed as World Obesity Day every year. As you saw, obesity affects different aspects of your overall health. So, does it have an impact on a woman’s reproductive health also? To understand that, Onlymyhealth spoke to Dr. Rachita Munjal, Consultant, Birla Fertility and IVF.

Obesity & Women’s Reproductive Health: What Is The Link?

Obesity is generally measured according to the body mass index (BMI). It is the ratio of a person’s weight (in kilogram) to his height (in metre square). A normal BMI lies in the range of 18.5 and 24.9, which is ideal for getting pregnant. As per studies, women with BMIs above 29 are less likely to get pregnant. As the number rises, her chances dip of conceiving. Notably:

  • BMI of 30 and above: Obese
  • BMI of 40 and above: Morbidly obese

It clearly shows that obesity has a detrimental impact on a woman’s fertility, such as:

1. Prevents Ovulation

Obesity decreases chance of getting pregnant

(Photo Credit: Unsplash)

Obesity causes hormonal imbalance, which affects ovulation. It happens because when you are obese, your body has more fat stores. These fat stores release estrogen, which is the female sex hormone. Your body confuses excessive estrogen with pregnancy and thus stops ovulation.

Also read: How Being Overweight Hurts Your Knees

2. Irregular Menstrual Cycle

Weight gain or loss can have both positive and negative effects on your menstrual cycle. For example, it can make your irregular cycle regular and vice versa. It depends on where you started and how much weight you gained or lost.

3. Increases Chances Of Miscarriage

Overweight women have a 29% higher chance of miscarriage than women with normal BMI. The risk for obese women stands at a staggering 73%.

4. Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)

Obesity has an established connection with PCOS, which is a condition affecting women’s reproductive health. PCOS is characterised by irregular periods, excessive secretion of male sex hormones, excessive growth of facial hair, weight gain, and even infertility.

5. Decreases Efficacy Of Fertility Treatments

Dr. Munjal says that obesity can even lower your chance of getting pregnant with fertility treatments like in-vitro fertilisation (IVF).

Also read: World Obesity Day 2022: Ayurvedic Remedies To Control Childhood Obesity

Weight Management When Planning Pregnancy

Lose weight before trying to get pregnant

(Photo Credit: Freepik)

A healthy weight is crucial for a healthy pregnancy. Bringing your BMI down by even 1 to 2 points can make a difference, said Dr. Munjal. Here is what you should do:

  • Talk To Doctor: About weight loss plan that suits your body and pregnancy goals.
  • Lose Weight Before Planning Pregnancy: If you are overweight or obese, lose weight before planning pregnancy. Weight loss of even 10-15% can improve fertility increasing your chances of getting pregnant without any medication or treatment.
  • Have A Balanced Diet: Prepare your meals so that they have enough vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other nutrients. Avoid foods that are high in fat and sugar. Consume enough green leafy vegetables, salads, and good quality protein.
  • Consult A Fertility Specialist: To access your health status and chances of conceiving.
  • Check On Your Partner’s Health: Not just your health, obesity can affect your partner’s fertility too. It can lower the quality and quantity of his sperm, affecting pregnancy. Hence, his health is as important as yours when trying to get pregnant.

Hence, have a balanced diet and exercise regularly to bring your BMI to an ideal level. Reduce your intake of processed and packaged foods. Also, do yoga as it has shown to have a positive impact on the menstrual cycle. 

(With inputs from Dr. Rachita Munjal, Consultant, Birla Fertility and IVF)

Photo Credit: Freepik