Weight & Fertility Health
Weight can affect fertility. Research shows that your chance of falling pregnant for every point over a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 29 decreases by 4 per cent.
If your BMI is above 45, you have 60% fewer chances of becoming pregnant. The same goes for if you are overweight who undergo IVF, the risk of miscarriages increases. Use this online calculator to work out your BMI.
Based on my experience with the clients I have seen in my practice, BMI may not be an accurate representation at the individual level. Someone who has a healthy BMI can also have a high percentage of body fat. And hence, I often get my clients to have their body composition measured during the initial consultation to get a closer look at their body fat percentage, visceral fat and body muscle mass level.
If body fat is too high, we can then discuss how to reduce this body fat with a targeted weight loss plan. It also allows us to track the changes in muscle mass. You know you’re losing weight and mainly burn off the body fat, not just from the muscle and water, that do nothing to improve your fertility.
Why Can Too Much Body Fat Impact On Your Fertility?
Excess body fat is one of the most common causes of ovulatory dysfunction.
If you’re overweight (defined by the BMI of over 25), your risk of inability to conceive, risk of miscarriage, implantation issues, egg quality and sperm quality issues increased. What you eat, the quality of your diet and supplement, stress level, as well as your exposure to an environmental toxin like Bisphenol A (BPA) can all affect your eggs quality and overall reproductive health.
The Quality Of Your Eggs
Studies show that overweight women have a higher risk of inflammation, affecting the potential development of eggs and are up to three times more likely to experience irregular periods and less regular ovulation, making it much more difficult to conceive.
It is recommended that women achieve a BMI <29 before the Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) commencement like the IVF.
Release Of Your Eggs
Five essential reproductive hormones that regulate your monthly menstrual cycle and the ability to ovulate, which are:
- Luteinizing hormone (LH)
- Follicle stimulation hormone (FSH)
- Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH)
During menstruation, estrogen level drops and at their lowest. This signals the brain to produce FSH hormone to begin maturing more eggs in preparation for ovulation. But suppose your estrogen level is chronically higher. In that case, the hormone production becomes out of balance, and your body isn’t getting enough signal to release the eggs and hence affect your ability to ovulate. We know so far that about 30% of infertility can be caused by estrogen imbalance.
If your partner carries excess weight, it affects the quality and health of the sperm, too and increased sperm DNA damage. Research suggests that a man who is just 10 kg overweight has a 10% reduction in fertility. Excess weight can decrease sperm count, affecting the quality of sperm and decreasing sex drive.
Being underweight (BMI <20) can also decrease your fertility as much as being overweight. Because if you have a low percentage of body fat, it can affect fertility hormones’ production, making ovulation more challenging.
I often see female athletes or someone who has had or suffers from eating disorders with a low level of body fat and struggle to get pregnant. Trying to conceive can be extremely challenging for this group of women, as the thought of putting on more body fat can be confronting, and one can take as long as 12 months to restore menstruation and ovulation.
Watch The Fertility Nutrition TV - How Weight Affects Your Fertility?
The Bottom Line
Consider talking to your GP or a fertility specialist if you’ve had trouble falling pregnant for 6 months or more if you’re above 35 years old, or more than 12 months if you’re under 35 years.
In the comments below, let me know one biggest fertility struggle you’re facing right now. Is it about your weight?
I offer a 15 minutes free nutrition chat, where I take time first to understand your current condition, the root cause of your problem and suggest the best step to help you get started.
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Remember, it may seem impossible right now, but all it matters is that you get started to create that change in your life and be better every day.
All my love ❤️,