Obesity & Reproduction

RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN OBESITY AND REPRODUCTION

Envision PT Services
Mark Nairn

In 2010 I decided to go solo and became a self employed personal trainer, my first two clients, both young ladies, were referred to me by a doctor to lose weight to help them with pregnancy. They were clinically overweight but otherwise healthy.  After following my nutrition plan accompanied by daily personal training sessions, they successfully lost weight and became pregnant.

Being obese or overweight both means having excess body fat than what is considered healthy. However, the term “obese” means a much higher body fat than “overweight.” Relationship between obesity and production has been known for many years, and obesity on reproduction leads to adverse effects. Many mechanisms are involved when it comes to the relationship between fertility and obesity. Leptin levels and insulin resistance are increased, and hyperandrogenemia occurs in overweight women. Obesity may impair reproductive functions by affecting ovaries and endometrium. The levels of insulin, estrone, triglycerides, and very-low-density lipoprotein are increased.

Body weight plays a vital role in modulating reproductive performance and development. Obesity is related to adverse outcomes for both baby and the mother across the course of perinatal and pregnancy period; it is mostly associated with high birth weight, pregnancy loss-miscarriage-, stillbirth, menstrual disorders, and lots of diseases during pregnancy. And when it comes to inter-generational follow-up, not only will overweight leads to troubled reproductive functioning in the offspring, but it also causes an increase in risks of getting metabolic diseases. Being underweight is risky in pregnancy; it’s commonly associated with high pregnancy loss and poor embryo growth.

Effects of overweight on female reproduction

  • Increases the amount of estrogen 

Ovaries produce estrogen, and fat cells also produce some estrogen. Your body requires a delicate balance of hormones to ovulate properly, and too much estrogen will throw off that balance. When you’re obese or overweight, your fat cells produce more estrogen than those needed by the body preventing regular ovulation.

Also, being underweight makes ovaries reduce less estrogen than required, which impacts ovulation since, during ovulation, you need your estrogen levels to rise to help along with the release of the egg. Being underweight can also cause amenorrhea-stopping of menstruation.

  • Increases insulin resistance

Not only can insulin resistance leads to diabetes mellitus, but it also have a negative impact on fertility. Insulin’s function is to move glucose bloodstream to the cells. Insulin resistance is associated with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), which may lead to fertility issues. PCOS’s exact cause is unclear, but excess insulin might result in increased androgen production, which can be a problem for ovulation.

  • Impacts assisted pregnancy rates and pregnancy-related complications

According to the 2010 Meta-analysis journal on Human reproduction, women with a higher BMI miscarry chromosomally normal fetuses at a higher rate than other women. “Babies born to obese women have an increased risk of having birth defects, such as heart defects and neural tube defects” American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists(ACOG). ACOG warns that obesity increases the risk of pregnancy-related complications-diabetes, preterm birth, and high blood pressure.

Can obesity impact male fertility?

The infertility issue is not on women only, as most of us assume. In men, obesity is associated with lower testosterone, a higher erectile dysfunction(ED), and impaired sperm quality. In 2007 a research was conducted where 1667 men ages 40 plus found that increased BMI was linked with a decrease in testosterone. Besides, a study shows that men with a waist size of more than 40″ were more likely to have erectile dysfunction.

How much weight is ideal for getting pregnant?

As every woman’s body is different, there is no objective amount of weight a woman should weigh to have a baby. Physicians look at the Body Mass Index (BMI)-measurement of an individual’s height to weight ratio. When it comes to reproductive effects, the average woman tends to be peak fertility health then her BMI is considered normal. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), a normal BMI range is 18.5-24.9 kg/m2, overweight is 25-29.9 kg/m2, and obese is 30 kg/m2 +. You can get many BMI calculators online, but you can also calculate yourself by dividing your weight in Kgs by the square of your height in meters. We can have an example; If your height is 1.68m and your value is 68kgs, then 68/1.682= 24.1, meaning you are in the normal BMI range.

Can I get pregnant when I am overweight?

Being obese rather than overweight decreases the chances of getting pregnant; this is because the weight affects your hormones, preventing your ovaries from releasing an egg-ovulation. Obesity can cause complications during pregnancy and even pregnancy loss.

How to lose weight for reproduction and methods used for weight loss 

Losing weight for reproduction varies with every woman, but it is commonly achieved through having a healthy diet and exercising / training. Eating clean and balanced meals, exercising at least 30 minutes a day, and cutting trans fats are highly recommended. It’s advisable to talk to your doctor first about weight loss goals. We should note that excessive exercise places more stress on the body and can interrupt ovulation

In conclusion, obese and overweight persons should be informed of the importance of pre-pregnancy weight reduction and encouraged to lose weight. And having a healthy weight increases your chances of having a baby. You can make some changes from now,by eating clean and doing exercises regularly; you can improve your chance of conceiving and having a healthy baby. Study shows getting more beneficial with your partner increases the chances of success. Men who practice a healthy lifestyle increase the quality of sperm.

CALCULATE YOUR BMI

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BMI Weight Status
Below 18.5 Underweight
18.5 - 24.9 Normal
25 - 29.9 Overweight
30 and Above Obese
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