How Being Underweight or Overweight Can Affect Your Fertility

You may think of weight as mainly a cosmetic issue, something that affects how you look. But if you’re having trouble getting pregnant, you may not realize that weight can have an impact on your fertility as well as your appearance. In fact, being overweight or underweight could prevent you from becoming a parent.

According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, 12% of all cases of infertility are linked to women having body weight that’s higher or lower than recommended.

Lauren Rubal MD, our fellowship-trained reproductive endocrinology and infertility specialist, explains how your weight can affect your fertility and what you can do to improve your chances of conceiving.

About infertility

Infertility is a condition in which a couple can’t conceive a baby. It affects about 1 in 8 couples. Roughly one-third of infertility cases are due to female causes, one-third are due to male causes, and the remaining third are unexplained or because of problems in both partners, according to RESOLVE, the National Infertility Association.

Infertility has many causes, including abnormal sperm production in a man, ovulation problems or hormone imbalances in a woman, or conditions that affect the female reproductive system, including endometriosis, uterine polyps, and polycystic ovary syndrome.

The impact of weight

Your weight could affect your ability to get pregnant because of the link between weight and hormones such as estrogen. If your estrogen levels are not within a certain range, pregnancy may not happen.

Some of the estrogen in your body is produced by your body fat. If you’re overweight or obese, you may have too much estrogen. If you’re underweight, you may have too little estrogen. Both of these situations can interfere with pregnancy.

Boosting your fertility

The good news is that if your infertility is related to your weight, you may be able to get pregnant if you can attain a healthier body weight. This means losing weight if you’re overweight or obese, and gaining weight if you’re underweight.

The best way to bring your weight to a better place is through healthy eating and moderate exercise.

Attaining a healthier weight can help you in several ways. Not only might it improve your odds of getting pregnant, but it could help you have a healthier pregnancy once you conceive.

Being overweight or obese during pregnancy can raise your chances of experiencing several pregnancy complications, including high blood pressure, gestational diabetes, premature birth, miscarriage, stillbirth, delivery by cesarean section, and birth defects, according to the March of Dimes.

And being underweight during pregnancy can also lead to complications during pregnancy, such as premature birth and having a low-birthweight baby.

In addition, if you opt to undergo in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatment, being at or close to a healthy weight could improve your odds of having a successful IVF.

Personalized care for your infertility

If you’re having trouble getting pregnant, Dr. Rubal can help. Our team provides a full range of infertility services, including lifestyle-based treatment. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Rubal at our office in Newport Beach, California, call 949-415-6704 or use our online scheduling tool to make an appointment.

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