Can obesity hamper fertility? An expert decodes with all the answers

Updated on Jul 01, 2021 05:09 PM IST  |  160.5K
   
Can obesity hamper fertility?
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Obesity is a real problem that has an impact on one’s general and overall health. While it is okay to be of different body shapes, it is imperative that one remains healthy at every size and maintain a good Body Mass Index (BMI). 

There are a lot of reasons why women and men undergo fertility issues. One of the main reasons being overweight. Obesity adversely impacts the reproductive health of a woman and one’s ability to conceive. This also elevates chances of miscarriage and complications in pregnancy. 

Women who are obese have greater levels of leptin, which is produced in fatty tissue which can cause disruption and imbalance in the hormonal milieu. Thus, hampering fertility. This also impacts the menstrual cycle and causes a range of hormonal disruptions.

What is a normal BMI?

The number is your weight over height squared. The normal BMI is 18.5 – 26 kg/m2. Index of 30 and above is considered obese. 40 and above is considered morbidly obese.

Excess weight affects female fertility

When obesity is discussed, we hear risks and repercussions in basic medical terms like higher risk of arthritis, heart diseases or more. Obesity has very specific impacts on women. One of the things that can be seen in women who carry extra weight is abnormal bleeding and abnormal menstrual cycles from the extra estrogen that is being created by the fat cells and this leads to a condition called endometrial hyperplasia, which can in turn progress and develop into cancer. 

Obesity causes the body to have hormonal imbalances that lead to irregular periods and other abnormalities which down the road lead to problems in ovulation. This eventually leads to Polycystic Ovarian Disorder (PCOD) which can turn into serious issues like infertility in women. Obesity causes various things like miscarriage, birth defects, gestational diabetes, and pregnancy-induced hypertension.

Excess weight affects male fertility

What is less known is that men also face fertility issues. Obesity not only affects the body processes of women but men alike. It has been seen that men who are of normal weight have more normal semen parameters than men who are overweight or obese. It has also been learnt that when men are obese, there is a protein in fat cells that turns a man’s testosterone into estrogen. Although it is normal for men to have a certain level of estrogen, high levels of estrogen is not good for men. Excess fat in men increases the temperature of their scrotum which in turn impacts the quantity, quality, and motility of the sperm. Men might even suffer from erectile dysfunction.

Tips to stay healthy for better chances of conceiving

The solution to increasing your chances of conceiving is reducing weight. One must start exercising right away. Any kind of exercise that reduces weight and that you can do should be practised regularly.

One should start a healthier diet with increased amounts of greens. Reduce the intake of processed and packaged foods as they are high in salts and not good for health.

Yoga has been known to be very beneficial for women who have irregular periods. It can also help in regularising ovulation.

Excessive smoking habits should be discontinued immediately.

If your doctor has recommended you any kind of pills or supplements, take them religiously without fail.

If you are a person who has an excessive intake of coffee and or alcohol, reduce it. Alcoholic drinks like beer start storing fat in the abdomen region which is not healthy for either males or females.

Those couples who are looking forward to conceiving should have a body mass index (BMI) between 19 and 23.

About the author: Dr Pallavi Prasad, Fertility Consultant at NOVA IVF Fertility, Bengaluru.

Also Read:  EXCLUSIVE: How does stress affect fertility and quality of life? An expert opines

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Comments
Anonymous : Lets go back to the age old practice of marrying in early 20s , having at least one child ASAP . that way stress and other life style related problems ( which are bound to seep in ) will not hamper fertility.
REPLY 0 2 months ago