Infertility and Obesity…is there a link?
If you’re like millions of Americans, your weight is something you often think about and try to manage in a healthful, smart way. If you’ve been diagnosed with infertility, it should be noted that there is an ever-increasing understanding of the correlation between obesity and infertility.
It has been shown that obesity is a risk factor for ovulatory problems. There have also been studies examining the relationship between body weight and infertility in women who regularly ovulate.
Severely obese study participants were 43% less likely to conceive than their normal-weight or not-severely-obese counterparts. (The referenced study was conducted by researcher Jan Willem van der Steeg, MD, of Amsterdam’s Academic Medical Center. He followed 3029 couples who were experiencing difficulty conceiving.)
As measured by the BMI, a 5-foot 6-inch woman who weighs 115 to 154 pounds is considered normal weight (BMI of 18.5 to 24.9). If she weighs between 155 to 185 pounds she is considered overweight (BMI of 25 to 29.9), and she would be considered obese at a weight of 186 or more (BMI of 30+).
Reproductive endocrinologist William Dodson, MD, says that it is increasingly clear that the role of obesity in reproduction is more complex than was once thought. “We thought that if a woman’s obesity was not affecting her ovulatory function, her fertility would be similar to a normal-weight woman’s. But this does not appear to be true.”
Dodson’s own recent research at the Penn State Hershey College of Medicine confirmed that obese women undergoing infertility treatments needed higher doses of infertility drugs than normal-weight or overweight women.
Like the published van der Steeg study, all the women in the Penn State study had normal ovarian function. It can be concluded that obesity is a risk factor for infertility in women with regular menstrual cycles, much like smoking, advanced age and alcohol use. A thorough health history and medical evaluation will be performed prior to any treatment recommendations by our staff at RRC. Any concerns about weight and infertility will be addressed at this time!
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RRC has over 200 years of combined experience. As a leading reproductive health, infertility, and in-vitro fertilization (or IVF) center based in Kansas City, we're proud to have the highest level of expertise available to our patients.