Obesity and Fertility

photo courtesy of shreehospital.com

photo courtesy of shreehospital.com

According to a March 2014 article in the Journal of Perinatal and Neonatal Nursing, in 2010, 31.9 percent of women ages 20 to 39 years old in the United States met the definition of obesity.  Obesity is defined as an adult with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 30 or higher, which translates roughly to a woman of 5’9 who weighs 203 pounds or more.  However, ill effects to your health can be felt long before you reach the stage of obesity; they can be found in the overweight stage as well.  A 5’9 woman is considered overweight with a BMI of 25 to 29.9, which is approximately 169 to 202 pounds.

If you are overweight or obese, it is important to know that this can greatly impact your ability to become pregnant, as well as to have a healthy pregnancy.  First, having a high amount of body fat contributes to altering the normal hormonal patterns in your body, and this directly impact your ovaries.  The result is irregular and/or infrequent menstrual cycles.  Additionally, increased abdominal fat is linked the production of male hormones, which also decreases your ovulation.

If you are able to become pregnant, being overweight or obese can actually triple your likelihood of miscarriage or stillbirth.  Furthermore, a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in February 2009 found that a mother being overweight or obese can be directly linked to a variety of birth defects in their children, such as cardiovascular issues, cleft lips, neural tube defects, and Spina Bifida.

If you are currently overweight or obese and would like to have a baby, it is highly recommended you visit your physician to establish a healthy diet and exercise plan that is right for you.  Researchers have found that a 15% weight loss can aid your ability to conceive without any additional medical intervention.  It is a worthwhile endeavor for your own health as well as the health of your future child.

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