Asking any reproductive endocrinologist or OBGYN about the link between weight and fertility should result in the same answer: there is a strong correlation between these two. This is reflected in the fact that women who are underweight or overweight have more problems in conceiving a child. At the same time, this idea is accurate for men as well. Many people fail to realize this connection and often struggle with fertility without knowing why it occurs. Help to make sense of it all, and there are several important facts about how body weight impacts the fertility levels in women and men.
Why does weight have an Effect on the Ability to Getting Pregnant?
For those who wonder what weight has to do with fertility, the simple answered is hormones. As the keyway how the human body communicates with its different parts and organs, hormones are the information highways of the entire body. But, fat impacts the ability of these highways to transmit and receive information. A significant presence of fat in the body will trigger an overproduction of reproductive hormones. On the other hand, the inadequate presence of fat can drop the production of the same hormones, making conception highly unlikely. Both cases make an imbalance in the hormonal outlook of a person and thus reduce their ability to conceive a child.
How does a Person know they are Overweight?
Determining if a person is overweight or even obese is done mostly through the use of BMI, or Body Mass Index mathematical formula. The result comes in the form of a BMI score, and the ideal range for conceiving a child for women is located between 18.5 and 25. This simple formula represents a weight-to-height ratio, and while it is not the most accurate measurement in the world, it does provide a concise picture of a person’s status in this regard.
The Impact of Body Weight on Fertility Levels
When a woman is overweight, with a BMI of 25 or above, the fertility issues might arise from an imbalance of the hormone called estrogen. This occurs because fat cells can make estrogen, and because of this, women with more fat will have elevated levels of the same hormone. When this happens, the hormone can stop ovulation from taking place or impact their cycle in some other way. Another effect is PCOS or Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. As a very regular cause of infertility, PCOS is linked to weight gain but also leads to problems with losing weight. On the opposite side of the same phenomenon are the women who are underweight (having a BMI of less than 18) and who have an irregular menstruation cycle. This also drops down their chance of getting pregnant in normal circumstances.
Men suffer from a mostly unified problem regarding body weight and infertility. With them, both occurrences of being overweight and underweight will lead to a drop in sperm count and lower their mobility.
When it comes to issues of fertility and body weight, the most important fact is being informed about all these facts. With the right information, both women and men who suffer from the same issue can find the best possible way to overcome it and become parents.
Millie Behera is the Founder & Medical Director at Bloom Reproductive Institute, Scottsdale, Arizona. She is board certified in Obstetrics & Gynecology and Reproductive Endocrinology. Dr.Behera has published several research papers and international presentations in the field of in-vitro fertilization, non-invasive treatment of fibroids, fertility preservation therapies, and advanced robotic surgery.
Updated: 14 July 2020