FEMALE OBESITY AND FERTILITY

HOME >> FEMALE OBESITY AND FERTILITY

The abnormal accumulation in body fat, 20% or above the normal weight of body is defined as obesity. Obesity occurs, mainly when the excess calories consumed from food is not spent by activities or exercises. It is linked to heredity and can occur as a result of hormonal imbalance as well. Obesity is known to increase the probability of infertility and is a main cause for the same in men and women.

One of the common measures undertaken to determine obesity is by calculating BMI (Body Mass Index). BMI is a globally used standard to measure the nutritional status of people. It is calculated by diving the weight in kilogram by the square of the height in metres. The normal BMI of a healthy person is in the range of 18.5 and 24.9. An index between 25 and 29.9 is categorised as overweight and anything above 30 is considered obese.

Being obese creates hurdles for female fertility. The main issue of weight gain, beyond a limit is irregularities in menstrual cycle, lack of ovulation or reduction in its rate, a dip in oocyte quality, increase in miscarriage rate and inability to conceive. The main risk factor associated with obesity is PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome), a main villain in the case of infertility. Increased obesity can lead to other physical disorders such as diabetes, back and joint problems, heart disease and so on.

Obesity intrudes the production of reproductive hormones like GnRH (Gonadotrophin releasing hormone), effectively decreasing the chances to conceive. The hormonal imbalances in obese people leads to insulin resistance in some cases. In addition to increasing the risk of diabetes, this leads to irregularity of periods and anovulation. This hindrance to production of egg affects fertility to a great extent.

Obesity not only affects natural pregnancy; it proves to be a deterrent in assisted pregnancies too. The success rate of assisted fertility treatments like IVF (In-Vitro Fertilisation) are comparatively less in overweight and obese people. This is because of repeated miscarriages due to some imbalance of hormones or due to the poor quality of egg produced. The babies born to obese women are known to need neonatal care on birth and in some cases suffer from congenital abnormality.

Obese women are first treated to bring their weight under control before being subjected to fertility treatments. It can be treated by following a regular diet and routinely exercise to burn the extra calories. In severe cases where it is not manageable by diet or exercise, advanced treatment options are available. Obesity is curable with a high level of success rate. Rather than availing medical options, it would be better to watch what you eat.