How does weight affect fertility?

June 26, 2019 by  
Filed under The Fitness Bug

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), infertility is a common problem. While in most cases, you have no control over the causes of infertility, certain factors can play a significant role when trying to conceive. For instance, research shows that a healthy weight is valuable when it comes to getting pregnant. 

However, it is essential to know that being overweight/underweight is not a dependable mode of contraception, and a healthy weight doesn’t guarantee fertility, but weight can impact your ability to make babies. Having a normal BMI absolutely gives you better chances of conceiving as compared to those who are considerably underweight or overweight. It’s essential to understand how weight can affect your fertility and improve your chances of getting pregnant. 

What is Body mass index (BMI)?

Body mass index (BMI) is an individual weight divided by the square of height. A high body mass index is an indicator of the amount of body fat you possess. It can be used to screen for weight categories, which may lead to health issues, but it is not diagnostic of an individual’s health or body fatness. Generation’s fertility care follows these body mass index guidelines: 

  • Underweight: BMI of less than 18
  • Standard: BMI of 18 to 24.9
  • Overweight: BMI of 25 to 30
  • Obesity: BMI of 30 or greater

Overweight and fertility

Excess weight can affect a woman’s fertility by causing issues with ovulation and hormonal imbalances. Though the primary female hormone, Estrogen is mainly produced by your ovaries, about 30 percent is also provided by your body fat cells. When you have healthy body weight, you have a higher probability of producing the right amount of Estrogen, but when an individual is obese or overweight, their adipose tissues produce more than necessary Estrogen – this can prevent regular ovulation. 

Your body needs hormone balance to ovulate properly, and having a little too much can throw your body off that balance it requires. Plus, a study shows that a higher level of Estrogen can prevent you from ovulating at all, which means you have no chance of getting pregnant. While the irregular period is a sign of ovulation issues, even if you have normal periods, you may have a hard time conceiving if you are overweight or obsess. 

Moreover, besides obesity lowering your chances of getting pregnant, it can also impair the chance of IVF medication and also increases the risk of congenital disabilities in babies and miscarriages according to American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM).

Underweight and fertility

Being underweight can reduce your fertility by causing hormone imbalances, which affect your ovulation and the chance of conceiving. Your ovaries make less Estrogen when you are underweight, which can also influence ovulation (you need your level of Estrogen to increase at ovulation as it helps with the release of the egg from the follicle). Being excessively underweight can inhibit normal ovulation and affect hormone production according to Mayo Clinic. Also, your menstruation can stop altogether as a result of underweight. 

Compared to healthy weight women, underweight people are more than likely going to take more than a year to conceive. Besides, having a healthy body is crucial to carry a pregnancy. So, if you are underweight, your body will not be ready for pregnancy, and even with fertility treatments, conception will be difficult. So, if you have hard training sessions and light periods, now may be the time to cut down on those fat burning practices and add more fats to your diet. 

The impact of weight on fertility for men

Just like the impact weight has on women’s fertility, men can also experience similar challenges. If a man is overweight, it can affect his sperm motility and sperm count. As a result of overweight, male hormones increases, and this can lead to your inability to make sperm regularly. 

The natural balance of Estrogen and testosterone can also be affected, and this can affect the ability to produce sperm. Also, obese men can experience scrotum warming – if the temperature of the scrotal increases by one to two percent, it can impact the production of sperm. 

If you achieve a healthy weight, it can significantly improve your production of sperm. Every day, men produce millions of sperm, which makes it highly beneficial to those who want to change their lifestyle. It takes about 74 days for sperm to mature, which means that you only need to wait about three months to start seeing improvements in the quality of sperm when you make a positive lifestyle change.

Can losing weight improve your fertility?

Conditions like insulin resistance and Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) are usually as a result of overweight or obesity, and losing weight can help get rid of these hormonal issues. A recent study from the Stanford School of Medicine shows that a considerable weight loss can increase the rate at which a woman can get pregnant.

Fortunately, you can turn around weight-related infertility by losing weight. However, we recommend you discuss with your fertility specialist to know if your fertility problems are as a result of your body weight. Also, age is a vital factor to infertility, so you could not delay fertility treatments in the hope of achieving a healthy weight. If you are having trouble with getting pregnant, some standard fertility tests can give you an idea of the underlying problems and sometimes certain lifestyle changes are all you need to conceive.

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