As someone who is a bit on the heavy side, and according to the BMI chart classified as obese at 35.7 (so depressing), I have searched high and low to find some kind of information that tells those of us who are overweight the impact it has on our fertility. After my second embryo transfer failed my IVF doctor kindly said that the only thing that we hadn’t done was for me to lose weight, and if I wanted to try again that would be what she recommended. I did ask her what effect weight had on my fertility but she couldn’t give me any numbers.
But does your weight affect your fertility? You see lots of obese+ women who don’t exercise, eat junk food, and yet still get pregnant, it feels unfair to me that for someone who eats pretty well and exercises daily it impacts it. Let’s face it losing weight is NOT easy, even with the motivation of a baby. For me personally, I had to give myself a BIG kick up the bum and say do you really want to be in this same weight situation in 6 months’ time? If you really want a baby then you don’t want to be an ancient Mum so you need to get losing – that seems to be the only thing that is getting through to my brain. I’ve already spent $000s on IVF and not had a result, and you know what they say you can’t keep doing the same thing and expect a different result.
This post is for all those lovely ladies who are a bit tubby and could use losing a few kgs, lets find out the real impact of weight on fertility.
Weight and fertility
According to VIC health “Getting closer to a healthy weight before conception increases the chance of the baby being healthy at birth and into adulthood. Obesity and excess weight gain during pregnancy is also linked with a number of pregnancy complications. These include increased risk of miscarriage, high blood pressure, pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes, cesarean birth, and stillbirth“
Weight affects the fertility of not just you but also your male partner, if they are overweight it can affect their fertility. According to research on women quoted on the Jenny Craig website “research shows for every point higher on the BMI scale, your chance of falling pregnant decreases by 4% (over a BMI of 29).” Calculating that on my BMI it means that my chance of falling pregnant has decreased by 24% due to my weight. For me at my age that is huge, because being older my chances are already lower.
I found this interesting Infographic on Smartparents which shows the effects of bodyweight on fertility for both men and women depending on if they are under or overweight. There are some rather scary numbers on here, that might give you the motivation you need to get your weight loss happening. Unfortunately, in the infographic article, they quote a recent US health study, but there is no link to it anywhere in the article, which is annoying as it would be great to read the actual research.
However, I did find this research that links obesity to poorer outcomes in fertility treatments and also that obese women take a longer time to get pregnant. This same study found that for women who had IUI with donor sperm the “pregnancy rate was 42% among women with BMI 20-24, 33% for women with BMI 25-27, and 21% for women with BMI 28-36.”
The same researchers found that “most authors agree that there is an increased risk of miscarriage in overweight and obese women after spontaneous conception; however, any further increase in risk after IVF or ICSI is debatable.” The authors concluded that “Obese women undergoing IVF require higher doses of gonadotrophins, respond poorly to ovarian stimulation and have fewer oocytes harvested. Obesity is associated with lower fertilization rates, poor quality embryos, and higher miscarriage rates.” So if you are using your own eggs then being obese does not help you, and if you are getting a donor embryo by being obese may increase the chance of miscarriage.
It seems pretty conclusive that losing weight will help you get pregnant and more importantly stay pregnant, plus of course, there are all the other benefits such as feeling healthier, reducing your chance of diabetes, high blood pressure, and more. I think that there are always going to be those anomalies in women who are overweight or on drugs, or alcoholics who just get pregnant and have a pretty healthy baby, but in my opinion, we can’t use that as an excuse not to lose weight. If you really want a baby then you need to do everything possible to make it happen after all you are spending time and money on it.
I have never been so honest about my BMI, but now that I have put it out there I have to do something about it, I will report back at the end of January and let you know where I am. I’d love to see if anyone wants to join me in losing the weight to help their fertility, please comment below!