How Weight Affects Fertility

Many women having trouble getting pregnant may overlook how their weight affects getting pregnant.

How Weight Affects Fertility

Weight can make getting pregnant more difficult for many women, whether it's being overweight or underweight. Some of the weight related fertility issues can be addressed by weight changes. If you continue to have issues with getting pregnant after making these changes, it should be addressed by a doctor who specializes in fertility problems.

Women who are underweight

Women who are underweight will have a hard time getting pregnant if they are not having a monthly cycle. A certain percentage of body fat is healthy, and will allow your body to ovulate. Some underweight women may be able to get pregnant but have an increased risk of early miscarriage. These risks can be reduced by eating fresh fruits and veggies daily, taking a prenatal vitamin, and even eating chocolate. Being at a healthy weight before pregnancy ensures that the necessary nutrients and energy stores are already available in the body.

How being overweight affects fertility

As weight increases, so does insulin and other hormones which block female sex hormones, causing ovulation to be erratic or not occur at all. Similarly to women who are underweight, these women also have an increased risk of miscarriage. Some health issues can cause weight gain and obesity. If you struggle to lose weight, ask your doctor if you could have a health condition such as thyroid disease or PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome) as some medications may be available to treat these conditions and increase your chances of getting pregnant.

How losing weight affects fertility

For women who are overweight, losing between 5 and 10 percent of their body weight can significantly increase their odds of getting pregnant and reduce their risk of miscarriage. However, losing more than this while trying to get pregnant may make conceiving more difficult. If you have a significant amount to lose, you may need to wait until you have stayed at about the same weight for a couple of months to get pregnant. Also, women at a healthy to low weight may suffer from infertility if they lose weight. Dramatic weight loss tells your body to go into famine mode, which blocks the reproductive system temporarily.

How gaining weight can affect fertility

For women who are underweight, gaining some weight slowly and healthfully will help with getting pregnant. During pregnancy, a woman who was underweight before pregnancy is expected to gain more weight than her healthy sized counterpart.

Weight gain in already overweight women will lower their fertility rates, and increase other health risks if they do become pregnant.

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