Weight and Fertility

weight management strategies optimize chances for conception

When a patient seeks our advice at Dallas-Fort Worth Fertility Associates, we perform comprehensive evaluations to explore the potential causes of pregnancy difficulty. One of the factors we consider is weight. Of all of the cases of infertility treated in the U.S., 12 percent are caused by abnormal weight. This means that if a woman’s Body Mass Index (BMI) is either above or below her ideal weight, she could have trouble getting pregnant.

Understanding weight and fertility

Having too much or too little fat doesn’t directly cause infertility, but being over or underweight can disrupt a body’s natural cycles. Though ‘fat’ has negative connotations, a healthy proportion of fat is essential for regulating hormones. Estrogen, for example, is produced within fat cells; a balanced reproductive system depends on just the right amount of estrogen production in the body.

Underweight women: Women without enough fat cells sometimes don’t produce sufficient estrogen to keep their reproductive cycles healthy and active. Because of this, underweight women can have irregular menstrual cycles and even stop ovulating. If an egg isn’t released through ovulation, natural pregnancy cannot occur.

Overweight and obese women: If a woman has too many fat cells, she often creates too much estrogen. Women with larger BMIs can have irregular menstrual cycles and disrupted ovulation. In fact, the body often reacts to excess estrogen as if the woman is using a hormonal birth control method.

Obesity and the path to motherhood

Many women in the obese range of BMI are able to get pregnant and have healthy pregnancies. However, research suggests that obese women are at a higher risk for fertility and pregnancy complications than women of normal weight.

Some of these issues include:

  • Lower success rates for in vitro fertilization (IVF)
  • Higher rate of pregnancy loss (spontaneous miscarriage)
  • Increased chance of riskier pregnancy conditions like gestational diabetes or preeclampsia
  • Increased chance of a cesarean section for delivery
  • Increased risk of birth defects

In addition to the hormone-disruption, obese women might have other health conditions that can potentially disrupt their hormonal systems and make pregnancy difficult, including polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), thyroid disease, insulin resistance or Type 2 diabetes.

Weight and fertility are problems for men, as well

Current research indicates that both partner’s weight can contribute to fertility challenges in the couple’s path to parenthood. Fat levels affect hormone balance and reproductive health in both men and women. Male obesity can cause fluctuations in testosterone levels that can interfere with sperm quantity and quality. Studies have shown that low sperm count and motility (how well the sperm can swim) may be found more often in overweight and obese men than those with normal BMIs.

Managing your weight to increase your fertility

The connection between weight and fertility can often be overcome with careful attention to improved diet and exercise. Once your BMI gets closer to your ideal, hormone production often falls back in line.

Couples that have been trying to get pregnant without success can often feel powerless. Make an appointment with one of our expert fertility specialists to evaluate whether setting weight gain or weight loss goals will help your chances for getting pregnant.

Through comprehensive diagnosis and testing, our fertility clinic can address female and male infertility, providing leading-edge infertility treatment.

Find the Answers You Need!

As a client at our Dallas, TX fertility clinic, expect to experience clinical excellence and compassionate care as we work to discover what stands between you and a healthy baby.

Frequent issues that contribute to female infertility include:

Cover All the Bases
Because male factor infertility accounts for about 40 percent of cases, we will complete a semen analysis and look for any known fertility risk factors like congenital defects, impotence or previous cancer treatment.

Usually, infertility treatments such as intrauterine insemination (IUI), intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) or in-vitro fertilization (IVF) can remedy the problem and produce successful results.

If you have put your dreams of parenthood on hold, we can help. Schedule a consultation to learn more about the causes of infertility and explore treatment options.

BMI Chart: Weight and Fertility

Your weight affects fertility; so find out where you fall on the spectrum.

Calculate your body mass index (BMI) to determine if you’re underweight, overweight or normal weight.

A normal BMI is between 19 and 24, according to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM).
A BMI between 25 and 29 is considered overweight.
A BMI of more than 30 is considered obese.

Strive for a normal BMI to increase your chances for becoming pregnant.