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Obesity and Infertility

“People who are suffering from obesity or are overweight have an increased risk of developing more than 40 diseases.” Some of these diseases include Type 2 diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, sleep apnea, and stroke.

But one health complication that many do not typically associate with obesity is infertility. Infertility is defined as “not being able to get pregnant despite having frequent, unprotected sex for at least a year for most people and six months in certain circumstances.”

Infertility affects both men and women equally. While there can be one or many causes of infertility, being overweight or obese is a major risk factor for both sexes that can be avoided.

In a 2007 fertility study, women who were obese had the most difficulty conceiving. “A woman with a BMI of 35 was found to be 26% less likely to achieve a spontaneous pregnancy than women who were normal weight or overweight but not obese. A woman with a BMI of 40 or more was 43% less likely to get pregnant.”

Another study concluded that women who were overweight or obese who underwent infertility treatments also needed higher doses of infertility treatments.

For both men and women, eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly will help to keep hormone levels in check to reduce risk. For men, obesity is directly related to testosterone levels, which is the key sperm-producing hormone.

For women, exercise is important, but overdoing it can cause hormone levels to alter and cause infrequent or absent menstrual cycles. Extreme dieting can also affect hormone levels and cause irregularities.

In addition to having complications conceiving, women who are overweight or obese and are pregnant have additional health concerns.

Some of these include the risk of preeclampsia, gestational diabetes (twice as likely if overweight, 8 times if obese), miscarriage (twice as likely), and/or infants born with a congenital abnormality or need neonatal intensive care.

The good news is that weight loss through surgery or through a customized diet and exercise plan with a physician can increase ovulation for women and sperm count for men.

In fact, women who lose just 10% of their total body weight have seen a decrease in infertility and avoided the need for expensive infertility treatments.

If you and your partner or someone you know is overweight or obese and are having difficulty conceiving, we urge you to attend one our free informational classes to learn more about our weight loss programs.


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