Obesity & Infertility

Obesity

Research shows that obese women with a Body mass Index (BMI) greater than 35 are at high risk for complicated pregnancies. They tend to have serious effects on the health of mother and baby.

Obesity is usually associated with serious health problems like, diabetes, hypertension, hardening of the wall of arteries, metabolic syndrome X, pulmonary diseases, strokes, fatty liver and most importantly gynaecological problems like poly cystic ovaries disease (PCOD), irregular periods and more which may affect the success of pregnancy.

Due to its effect on the reproductive system, there are higher risks of still birth, miscarriage or other complications both to the mother and the baby. It may also cause complications before and during pregnancy like pre-eclampsia (hypertension), or diabetes related problems, cesarean etc. in the mother.

In fact the adverse effects of obesity are not only restricted to the mother. Obesity or overweight lowers the sperm count in men, and can also reduce the chances of their spouse conceiving successfully.

Obesity is a term to denote excess body weight as compared to the height of the person, and is usually due to excessive adipose tissue (fat) deposits in the superficial and visceral layers of the body.

A cause of obesity may be hyper or hypo secretion of hormones from the Thyroid gland, which needs to be checked for during the check-up. Since this can be treated and managed by medication.

Obesity can also set in a vicious cycle, where obesity disturbs the production of the hormone ‘Leptin’ (which signals satiety, to the brain and causes us to feel full and stop eating), which in turn worsens the condition, and hampers the reproductive system in the body!

Excess weight affects the process of ovulation by disturbing the menstrual cycle. The adipose cells indirectly through their effect on the adrenal hormones cause over production of estrogens, thereby leading to hormonal imbalance and fluctuation, which affects the ovulation process and increases the chances of birth defects. This additional level of estrogens also increases the risk of cancerous changes in the uterus.

Even before opting for pregnancy, a thorough check up needs to be done in case you are obese, and experience irregular menstrual cycles or excessive bleeding during menstruation. Also, restricting activities like smoking, use of alcohol, tobacco can be useful to not aggravate obesity and its effects.

The fortunate part is that the negative effect of obesity on fertility can be reversed, by introducing a regular exercise routine into your lifestyle.

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Five to ten percent decrease in body weight has been shown to affect the process of ovulation, exponentially.

Not only does it have a positive effect on the reproductive system, but exercise also helps reduce the chances of other health problems to the mother like diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular problems and more.

Needless to say, that a well-balanced and nutritious diet will only act as a catalyst in the process of getting the reproductive system back on track!