The Risk of Obesity On Infertility

Obesity is a known risk factor for ovulation issues but according to new research, obesity is also a common risk factor for infertility in women who ovulate normally.  A study at Amsterdam’s Academic Medical Center found that women who were severely obese but ovulating were 43 percent less likely to conceive when compared to women of a healthy weight and even those who were considered overweight but not obese that were also ovulating. This study is one of the first to research the connection between obesity and infertility in those women who ovulate on a regular basis.  Researcher Jan Willem van der Steeg, MD, of Amsterdam’s Academic Medical Center, stated that obesity is a risk for infertility in women even if they have a regular menstrual cycle.

Van der Steeg and his fellow researchers observed 3,029 couples that were having trouble conceiving on their own. Many of these couples had been trying to conceive for over a year with no obvious reason for fertility problems. All of the women were ovulating normally and had fallopian tubes that were functioning normally.  The men all had normal semen analyses.  The couples were followed until pregnancy was achieved or until they began the process of fertility treatments.  The women’s height, weight, fertility status and smoking status were taken and measured at the beginning of the study. The women were grouped together by underweight, normal weight, overweight or obese based on their body mass index (BMI). The research stated the following:

  • Around 10 percent of the women were classified as obese having a BMI of more than 30.  These were the couples that had the most trouble conceiving during the yearlong research study.
  • A woman with a BMI of around 35 was 26 percent more likely to have problems in conception when compared to those who were of normal weight or who were overweight but not obese.
  • A woman with BMI of 40 or above was 43 percent less likely to become pregnant.

The researchers are not quite sure why women who are obese but ovulating have a harder time becoming pregnant.  They speculate that certain hormones may be to blame.  But one thing they now know for sure is that the role of obesity on fertility is certain and more complex then once thought.  If you are obese or even overweight and are ready to conceive the best recommendation is to see your OB/GYN for a complete physical and to speak with them concerning any risks you may have.


Obesity Linked To Infertility In Women: : http://www.webmd.com/infertility-and-reproduction/news/20071211/obesity-linked-to-infertility-in-women

Obesity Could Mean Infertility For Future Generations: http://news.yale.edu/2011/03/23/obesity-could-mean-infertility-future-generations

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