The Link Between Infertility And Obesity
A person is defined as obese when 30 percent of their body tissue is made up of fat. With the numbers of overweight and obese people growing annually, more research is being conducted to explore the impact it has on general health. Obesity is linked to several health problems, including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension and infertility. In recent years, the connection between lifestyle, weight, nutrition and fertility is gaining more public exposure.
How Does Weight Affect Fertility?
Estrogen is found in two sources in the body: the ovary and the adrenal gland. The ovary makes estrogen in quantities depending on the phase of the menstrual cycle. The adrenal glands make something called 'androstenedione'. These hormones are connected to cholesterol and in the case of androstenedione; fat cells convert it into an estrogen called estrone. If you are significantly overweight, the oversupply of estrogen from this conversion will affect how the ovary's function. This causes disruption to the natural ovulation cycle and often leads to infertility.
How Can You Tell If Your Fertility Is Being Affected By Your Weight?
If you are having regular periods, then you are probably ovulating. If, however, your periods are sporadic then your ovulation will also be irregular. The most common cause of irregular periods is polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Obesity or persistent weight gain is a common feature of PCOS and it remains the most common cause of infertility in women. Sufferers of PCOS have multiple cysts in their ovaries which then produce large amounts of androgen and estrogenic hormones. This prevents ovulation, causing infertility.
What Fertility Issues Are Caused By Excessive Weight Gain?
-Irregular or infrequent menstrual cycles
-Increased risk of infertility
-Less success with fertility treatments
-Increased risk of miscarriage.
In addition to these problems, obesity also increases the risks of high blood pressure and diabetes during the pregnancy.
What Can Be Done To Increase Fertility In Overweight Women?
Studies have shown that women who are overweight or obese are less likely to respond to fertility drugs. This occurs because the excessive weight obstructs the proper absorption of the fertility drugs used during treatments. Some IVF clinics refuse to treat obese patients unless they reduce their BMI (body mass index).
It is not as simple as telling obese women they 'just' need to lose weight to increase their fertility. Obesity and Infertility are issues that people do not choose to suffer from. A multidisciplinary approach to weight management is more likely to be a successful treatment option. The emphasis should be on lifestyle change, education about proper diet, exercise and behavior modification. A more holistic approach to obesity and reproductive health can help increase the chances of conception in obese women. In doing so, it would also have a positive impact on their general health.
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